Think you know Chicago?
What are all nine ingredients of a Chicago-Style hot dog? Or, what do each of the four stars on the Chicago Flag represent?
Better yet, what if the reward for flaunting your Windy City trivia knowledge was raised from mere bragging rights to being spared from the most ruthless of Chicago punishments out there — a hefty shot of Jeppson’s Malört?
A quirky new trivia drinking game, The Chicago Handshake, arrives in area stores on Thursday, and it’s designed to test your Chicago knowledge while throwing the book at friends and family who lack the Chi-town gusto to hold their own when it comes to all things Chicago. The loser of each game has to down a Chicago Handshake — the nickname for a Chicago tallboy-style beer and a shot of Malört, the infamous liqueur that has been “weeding out the weak since 1933,” the company’s tagline says.
“There are some people who know they like the taste of Malört more than others, and for some, you’ll get that ‘Malört face,’” said Kyle John Hollings, the game’s art director. “The endgame is the funniest, because we all have our opinions of ‘Malört,’ and it’s always a great way to welcome people to the city.”
Considered a beskbrännvin — a style of bitter, wormwood-based Swedish schnapps — Malört was originally sold in Chicago as medicinal alcohol during prohibition. Now the storied hooch is distilled in Pilsen and owned by CH Distillery, who will be selling the Chicago Handshake game on its website.
“This is a game that you can actually play together and remember the good times in Chicago,” said Tim Gillengerten, the founder of Transit Tees, the group producing the game. “I think the stories that come out of it are the most important thing.”
The game features a “bartender” who serves as a judge during the game and can dole out drinks to players of their choosing. When a player can’t remember the answer to a trivia question, which can range on everything from Chicago architecture to old Chicagoland commercial jingles, they receive a “fine” of one or two tokens. The first player to reach seven tokens must drink a Chicago Handshake.
The game also features various other times players must drink, and includes challenges like putting on your best Chicago “super fan” accent or pontificating about your favorite slice of deep dish pizza.
Transit Tees, located in Wicker Park, produces a slew of Chicago-inspired products, including a CTA-themed board game and various city-themed puzzles.
Gillengerten said each game lasts about half an hour, but that’s enough to get “a little toasty,” especially if “everyone gangs up on you or the bartender gives you a hard time.”
Despite partnering with Malört for the game’s creation, Gillengerten says somehow he’s still never tasted it.
“I will be tasting it soon,” said Gillengerten, who uses cranberry juice during test-rounds of the game. “We have bottles of it here that we use for our research and development sessions, and I smell it; it smells good. But the staff informed me that the taste is quite different.”
Hollings says he’s mustered the gall to scarf down a few shots, with a caveat.
“[In] my head, I’m looking for a chaser — the nearest one,” Hollings said he thinks about whenever tasting the liqueur.
The public launch event for the Chicago Handshake game takes place from 6-10:30 p.m. Nov. 8 at CH Distillery, 564 W. Randolph Street. Free tickets can be reserved here, and guests can also order $4 special Chicago Handshakes during the event.