City Cellars has a large and eclectic collection of spirits, but one of our more unique products is the Bittermens Bäska Snaps Med Malørt. If your reaction to hearing a name like that is “Bless you,” we’ve got the low-down on this uniquely international spirit with origins in Sweden, production in France and Iceland, and history in Chicago.
First up, snaps or “schnapps”, is what Scandinavians call aquavit and similar spirits. In Swedish, “Bäska” means bitter, Med is “with,” and “Malørt” is “wormwood'”. Wormwood is the main flavouring agent, which gives it deep, rich bitterness.
Malørt is a traditional Scandinavian digestif, where families would take high proof aquavit or other spirits and infuse them with bitter herbs to create a real winter warmer, meant for drinking during the holidays and their lengthy winter. These “besk snaps” were served cold to family and visitors who needed a bracing eye-opener.