LOGAN SQUARE — Looking for a Chicago-themed stocking stuffer?
Kyle Janis, founder and CEO of Soothsayer Hot Sauce, is gearing up to debut his latest creation, which he said is the first of its kind: Hot sauce made with Chicago's most notorious liqueur, Jeppson's Malört.
The Logan Square resident partnered with members of local instrumental rock band Space Blood on a limited edition Malört hot sauce for $8.
Janis will be offering tastings and selling the new hot sauce before, during and after a Space Blood show at Cole's Bar, 2338 N. Milwaukee Ave., on Dec. 17. Local bands Yeesh and Evasive Backflip are also scheduled to perform.
A big fan of Malört, Janis has wanted to use the liqueur as an ingredient in one of his hot sauces since he founded Soothsayer last year.
"Like anyone else, you have it enough times and you end up falling in love with it," he said of Malört.
It ended up taking months and 14 test batches to concoct the perfect recipe, which is a far cry from the two or three test batches it usually takes Janis to get a hot sauce recipe right.
"Malört is such a unique and overpowering flavor. It was a flavor that was really delicate to work with," he said.
That's putting it nicely. Most people who have tried the Swedish wormwood liqueur describe it as disgusting. Vice summed it up well: "It is Chicago’s greatest inside joke with itself: a liqueur that no one likes but everyone loves, thanks to being both a good way to prank out-of-towners and an excellent measure of one’s mettle. It is so inherently vile that, in a modern-day capitalist society, it does not belong on the market."
With that in mind, Janis said he tried to work with the flavor and mask it at the same time.
The finished product contains grapefruit and yellow ghost peppers and ranks about a six out of 10 on the hotness scale. Janis said the flavor "transforms as it sits on your tongue."
"At first you get a really good hit of sweet grapefruit, then it falls back on the bitterness that is Malört, and then the heat picks up from the ghost peppers," he said.
Janis only made 50 bottles to start. But he's hoping to partner with Jeppson's on an official launch in the coming weeks.
Any leftover bottles from the release party/show will be sold at future Space Blood shows. The band members are also big fans of the liqueur and previously partnered with Jeppson's on a customized bottle for an Indiegogo giveaway.
"Since we started, this is always something I kept in my back pocket," Janis said. "We're very excited to be the first ones to do it."
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here.