‘A little less nasty’: Lombard brewpub serving up cicada-infused Malört shots

The worst part about drinking cicada-infused Malört is picking pieces of bug legs out of your teeth for the next hour.

There’s a sentence you probably thought you’d never read. But thanks to Noon Whistle Brewing in Lombard, cicada-infused Malört is a thing, and it’s having a moment in the suburbs.

The brewpub at 800 E. Roosevelt Road started selling it Tuesday for $5 a shot, calling it a “once-in-a-lifetime experience” on their social media posts.

It is the first year since 1803 that the 13-year Brood XIX and 17-year Brood XIII cicadas are co-emerging, so they’re not wrong. Since Malört wasn’t invented until the 1920s, it’s a chance to try something few people have.

Bartender Evan Ebbole said he poured about a bottle’s worth in the first day and a half. In between pours, he’s spent much of his time answering the phone and telling people that yes, it’s a real thing.

  Cicadas are cleaned and sanitized then boiled before being infused in to Malört at Noon Whistle Brewing. Rick West/

Erin Cady of Naperville was one of those callers. She said she heard about the concoction Tuesday and called immediately. Once she confirmed it was legit, it was added to her bucket list, she said.

A day later, she crossed it off.

“I texted a bunch of friends to see if they wanted to come, but they all said they were busy,” she said.

Hmm, wonder why?

With one friend who agreed to come (but not drink it) to shoot the video, Cady threw back her shot, including the cicada husk added to the drink by request. Her face immediately told the bitter story that Malört drinkers know all too well.

After a few seconds to reflect, she realized that the cicadas must have had a mellowing influence.

“It didn’t burn as much as other Malörts I’ve had,” she said. “I think the cicadas take the edge off a little bit. It actually tastes better than regular Malört.”

Turns out it’s two bad tastes that actually taste a little less bad together.

  Noon Whistle Brewing is serving a cicada-infused Malört at their Lombard brewpub, for a limited time of course. Rick West/

It’s not Noon Whistle’s first foray into flavored Malört. They’ve also done pizza-lort and shamrock shake flavored in the past, among others.

Bartender Marc Taulquist said the cicadas are frozen, cleaned, sanitized in vodka and boiled before being dropped in the Malört. The bottle served at the bar on Wednesday had seven cicadas, all of the 17-year variety. He said they bring a flavor reminiscent of lobster.

“Most people’s reactions have been the same,” he said. “It tastes like Malört, which nobody really likes, but they seem to like this just a little bit more.”

Michael Lonigro of Oak Lawn, who had graduated just an hour earlier from medical school at nearby Midwestern University, came in to try a shot.

He said he saw it online Tuesday and thought it would be a perfect way to celebrate his graduation.

  Noon Whistle Brewing has a history of serving infused Malört at their Lombard brewpub, with previous iterations including shamrock shake flavored and pizza-lort. Rick West/

“I mean, cicada Malört, my hands were tied,” he joked. “I honestly thought it was slightly better than the original. A little less nasty at the end.”

Since the shot will only be around for a few weeks, it seemed like a good idea for me to try it. You know, for journalism and stuff.

I decided to leave the whole husk floating on top that had been added for my photos. If you’re going to go in, go all in.

Taste-wise, I had hoped it would be worse just for the experience, but it wasn’t. Fortunately, eating the exoskeleton of a bug provides that certain je ne sais quoi that I’ll remember long after the taste of the shot.

You know how when you pick up a cicada shell, it sticks to your fingers? Now imagine that inside your mouth. Yeah, that’s the memory I’ll have — finding little pieces of bug body in my mouth for over an hour. It was worth five bucks.

  Yep, that’s a bug in that bottle of Malört. Noon Whistle Brewing is serving a cicada-infused Malört for a limited time. Rick West/
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