Pre-prohibition cocktails and modern twists on classics

From A to B

From A to B


.75oz Malort

.75 Campari

.5oz Gin

.5oz Rye

.5oz Fernet-Branca

.5oz Absinthe

3 droppers Hopped Grapefruit Bitter

Orange Twist


Add the malort, Campari, gin, rye, Fernet-Branca, absinthe and 3 full droppers of Bittermens Hopped Grapefruit Bitters to a chilled mixing glass. Add ice and stir until well chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the orange twist.


Complex nose, intense grapefruit citrus and sugar upfront, chased by bitter orange, herbs and anise. The tastes is intricate yet explosive. The flavors come on strong and sequential and then fade fast with a lingering bitter (for most) finish. Accents include allspice, anise, orange, grapefruit, with floral and herbal notes, mild spice and a touch of hops.

From A to B 3


You know you are addicted to bitters when you find yourself adding more and more to your drinks. Quarter ounce here, 20 or so dashes there, hell some times I just drink bitters. Can’t get enough of the stuff. That being said, some of the more bitter experiments haven’t made their way to The Straight Up; however, this Mixology Monday: Anise seemed like the perfect opportunity to “bust one out.”

In case you are just tuning in, I’m hosting this month and have been playing with adding anise flavor to a variety of different styles of cocktails. The first was The Handy Bird, a Cognac and Rye forward cocktail with an absinthe rinse, similar to a Sazerac. The second, A Nise One, was an all out anise assault with an emphasis on other herbal flavors. I toned things down a bit with The Fixer, originally a “challenge” cocktail, this one favors the Martini/Martinez, using only a few dashes of Elixir Vegetal to add light anise notes. This time it’s all about going bitter.

One of my favorite bitter things to mix with is Malort. Unless you are from Sweden (or Chicago), let me guess what you are thinking: “WTF is Malort?!?

Good question… Malort is a bitter liqueur from  Sweden, made from wormwood, that has accents of anise and citrus. In fact if my Swedish is up to date, I believe Malort is the Swedish word for wormwood (yup… I totally speak Swedish). It’s definitely one of the more bitter spirits I’ve tasted. It has strong ties to Chicago, as a Swedish dude named Jepson started making the stuff there in the 1930s and until recently, Chicago was essentially the only place to get it in the states. It has sort of a Fernet like following in the windy city and is often consumed on “dares” etc, as outside of the “craft” cocktail community, it’s considered more of a “disgusting” shot to “challenge” your bros to.

Malort makes this one pretty bitter, but I figured why not add some friends. I pumped up the anise flavor with some absinthe and dropped in a few of my buddies, Campari and Fernet-Branca to amp up the bitterness. The Hopped Grapfruit bitters from Bittermens adds to the bitterness, but also provides awesome citrus and hopped flavor. Between it and the orange twist, you would swear by the nose that this one has juice in it.

I originally used Gin as the base of this one, but I liked the added punch of the gin/rye combination. This base adds flavor for sure but mainly serves to accent the more dominant spirits.

From A to B 2

I really….really enjoy this one as I tend to be diving even more off the bitter end lately (but sparing you all from most of it). That being said I’ve made this for friends who are not into BDSM (Bitter Dominated Stirred Madness…. what did you think I meant?) and they’ve still really enjoyed From A to B. While strongly anise, this one is citrus and sweet up front and bitter and potent at the finish.

Give it a shot sometime, especially if you have a bottle of Malort laying around that is just aching to be used for something other than trying to make your homies puke.

6 Responses to “From A to B”

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