Wrigleyville can be kind of awful (see?), but one of the great holdovers from a less bro-infested era remains the Nisei Lounge. It’s the kind of unpretentious dive where the staff serves up a good craft beer or a cheap domestic and doesn’t suffer fools. It’s also earned its reputation as something of a shrine to Chicago’s favorite foul spirit, the mighty Malort. Now, it appears they’ve outdone themselves.
Earlier this month, the bar created a monument to the notoriously bitter, but locally-cherished wormwood liqueur unlike any we’ve encountered before: a massive collection, 100 bottles strong, that all but overtakes the back bar. Dubbed “One Hundred Bottles of Malort on the Wall” it was crowned the “official art installation” of the month.
“It’s a little awkward running a busy dive bar after Cubs games with half the back bar dedicated to Malort—though it is a beautiful, beautiful sight,” Patrick Odon, Director of Beer and Baseball Operations (his real, glorious title), told Chicagoist via email.
Apparently others are feeling their emotions stirred as well, as some patrons have taken to jotting down “Malort Deep Thoughts,” which staff has wisely chosen to add to the “installation.” Think of them as tasting notes, but instead of isolating, say, hints of leather or toffee, drinkers lament, “Malort tastes like a bowling shoe” and “Malort tastes like fertilizer except it doesn’t grow on you.”
As much as Chicagoans love the so-bad-it’s-good stuff, Nisei—which in the past has celebrated dedicated holidays such like the beloved Malortsgiving and Malortmas and experimented with all manner of Malort infusions—decided to give their overflowing stock a little push, encouraging folks to “climb Mount Malort.” As of Thursday afternoon, the 100-bottle fortress was already down to 10. Odon said he figures “we’ll deplete the whole thing by Mid-July.”
The bar won’t rule out another 100-bottle wall, according to Odon, but there’s no guarantee. So we recommend you go down before it diminishes down to something of a Malort fence. Because this is one “build a wall” chant we’ll happily join in on.