Chicago Boulevardier

Jeppson’s Malört stands in for Campari in the Chicago Boulevardier. Photo by Susan Whitney.

Chicago Boulevardier


1.25 oz Four Roses Bourbon Yellow Label
1.25 oz Dolin Vermouth Rouge
0.5 oz Jeppson’s Malört
0.25 oz Cointreau

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass over a large ice cube.

Garnish with an orange twist.

My kind of town, Chicago is.
My kind of people, too.

Sinatra’s song ran through my head as I roamed the sprawling, soaring city of Chicago last week. The combination of boat rides on the Chicago River and lakefront runs was reason enough to visit, but throwing in great friends and spring temperatures sealed the deal. Add to that the fact that the city is basically a museum of skyscrapers that kick breathtaking light into unexpected corners, and you have a photographer’s dream. Don’t even get me started on Lou Mitchell’s Restaurant.

Still, it takes fortitude to withstand Chicago’s long winters. It’s a huge cycling town, and many folks don’t put their bikes away in November. They layer up, grit their teeth and lean into the frigid gales barreling down the city’s boulevards. Perhaps it’s fitting, then, that Jeppson’s Malört is the city’s native spirit. Malört is Chicago’s take on beskbrännvin, a wormwood-based Swedish schnapps. It has a ferociously bitter aftertaste that lingers and leads to the phenomenon known as Malört Face. Chicago has embraced it, perhaps knowing that, like their bitterly cold winters, everything else is sweeter by comparison.

Artwork over the urinal in Quenchers Saloon in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. Photo by John Wilkerson.

In honor of Chicago’s bike-friendly boulevards, this week’s cocktail is a Chicago Boulevardier. I’ve substituted half an ounce of Malört and a quarter ounce of Cointreau for the traditional Campari and mix that with 1.25 ounces each of Four Roses Yellow Label bourbon and Dolin Vermouth Rouge. The result is a smooth cocktail that maintains a touch of that bitter Malört finish but ends with a smile instead of a grimace. True Malört fans will no doubt shame me for mellowing their beloved liqueur, but I’m simply not cut of the same sturdy midwestern cloth as they. If I were, I’d be living in Chicago instead of just visiting because Chicago is

One town that won’t let you down
It’s my kind of town

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