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Malört battle: Five Champaign bars go head-to-head in a cocktail competition

For Malört Fest 2023, there are five Champaign bars competing in a Malört cocktail competition. Pictured is Pour Bros Taproom's entry for the Malört Fest cocktail competition with fresh herbs. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Alyssa Buckley

On Saturday, May 6th before heading to Toast to Taylor Street‘s awesome line-up of live music, help decide which Downtown Champaign bar wins bragging rights in Malört Fest’s cocktail competition. From 3 to 7 p.m., five bars: Punch! Bar, Pour Bros Taproom, Quality, The Space, and Watson’s Shack & Rail will compete for the best Malört-inspired drink.

Malört Fest begins outside Brass Rail, which is still temporarily closed as new ownership takes over. Participants will check in with the organizers and then move as a group to the participating bars of the cocktail competition. I was lucky to get a sneak peek at the drink entries. Here’s a look at what Malört cocktails five Downtown Champaign bars will be stirring up for Malört Fest this Saturday.

Alyssa Buckley

The first drink of the Malört Fest pub crawl is Quality Bar’s cocktail: Elder-lört ($8), garnished with a slice of lemon and made with Malört, Sprite, and raspberry liqueur.

Alyssa Buckley

The next drink in the competition is Mint-lört Julep ($6) by Pour Bros Taproom. Inspired by the Kentucky Derby which occurs on the same day, the drink has Malört, fresh chopped mint, and vanilla rum.

Watson’s Shack & Rail

The third drink in the line-up is a Malört slush by Watson’s Shack & Rail. It’s called S.M.D. (somuchdrama) for $12, and it’s a grapefruit-y Negroni tonic slushie.

Alyssa Buckley

Fourth in the contest is Punch! Bar & Lounge with a Chicago dog inspired drink called Get Glizzy with It ($10). With a celery salt rim, the cocktail has mustard seed and sport pepper-infused Malört and a relish ice cube.

Alyssa Buckley

Lastly, the Malört pub-crawl will end at The Space. The new restaurant’s cocktail When Will This Nightmare End ($8) has Malört, hot honey, and a grapefruit slice.

All pub-crawlers who make it to the last bar will get to vote on the winner, and the winning cocktail will be announced sometime around 7 p.m. at The Space.

Sign up here so organizers know how many pub-crawlers to expect on Saturday.

Malört Fest Pub Crawl
Saturday, May 6th
3:30 p.m. Brass Rail
4:15 p.m. Quality
5 p.m. Pour Bros Craft Taproom
5:45 p.m. Watson’s Shack & Rail
6:15 p.m. Punch! Bar & Lounge
6:45 p.m. The Space

Food + Drink Editor / / instagram

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