Best Locally Made Malort

R. Franklin's Original Recipe Malort

Critics' Picks

Various retail locations, letherbee.com

Jeppson's Malort—originally made in Chicago, but now produced in Florida—is still more (in)famous here, but since January there's been a truly local Malort in town: R. Franklin's, created by the Violet Hour's Robby Haynes in conjunction with Brent Engel of Letherbee Distillers. Made with grapefruit peel, juniper, elderflower, and star anise in addition to the requisite wormwood, it's citrusy, floral, and sweet, but has every bit of the herbal, bitter finish that Jeppson's lovers (and haters) expect. And at 100 proof (compared to Jeppson's 70 proof), it'll make shots of Malort that much more dangerous. Trying to sell a spirit that's known for tasting terrible may seem counterintuitive, but Haynes thinks that people's palates have evolved over the last five years and that the public is ready for it. "People are more adventurous when they drink, and bitter as a flavor profile is no longer a dirty word," he says. "That's what's happening next. Someone's just going to say, well, fuck it. The whole potable thing, out the window. Just straight up, here's a shot of bitters."