In 2008 I had the good fortune to travel to London to guest bartend at Simon Difford’s home bar, The Cabinet Room. The guests in attendance were the bartending glitterati of the London bar scene. I focused on making drinks as I tried not to think about the big names that were mingling before me.
As the night progressed, the bartenders would pop behind the bar and whip up their signature cocktails. And at one point, the outstanding David Cordoba was urged by the crowd to make his infamous classic, the Jägerita.
Now, I don’t know about you, but like many Americans I had a pretty bad experience with Jägermeister in college. So I had no difficulty voicing my objection to the idea of a Jägermeister Margarita. I mean, right? But my protest was quickly hushed by the other bartenders. “Just try it,” they told me. “You won’t believe how good it is.”
And I remember my mind being blown as I took that first sip. It seemed so simple, the combination of licorice, orange, lime, herbs, sweetness, and sourness. Yet it made perfect sense, as I had recently discovered the joy of an amaro sour (bittersweet Italian liqueur mixed with citrus) and Jägermeister is, at its core, German amaro.
I had the good fortune to visit the Jägermeister distillery last year, was able to watch firsthand how it is produced. Made from a grain or sugar beet base, it is flavored with ginger, sweet and bitter orange, bitter herbs, cloves, and star anise. It is then sweetened with invert sugar, a sugar molecularly similar to honey. The liqueur is then aged in oak barrels for up to a year. It’s a painstaking process for a liqueur that, quite frankly, is looked down on by many Americans (my former self included) as a college party shot of their youth.
But this German party shot certainly had new life breathed into it for me that fateful night at The Cabinet Room, and I’ve stocked it at home and in my bar ever since. You’re just going to have to trust me on this one and try it for yourself.
• 1½ oz. Jägermeister
• ¾ oz. Cointreau
• ¾ oz. fresh lime juice
• 2 tsp. 2:1 simple syrup
Combine ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and shake until well chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
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Jeffrey Morgenthaler is the bar manager at Pépé le Moko and Clyde Common, the acclaimed gastropub at the Ace Hotel in Portland, Oregon. He is also author of The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique.