Jägerbombs certainly have their time and place—namely college. But the bittersweet German spirit the drink incorporates is actually mixology friendly, and the artisanal-cocktail community is starting to embrace the complex ingredient. In a funny way, Jägermeister’s low-rent reputation in America is the source of its success. In the 1970s, legendary liquor marketer Sidney Frank (who would go on to create Grey Goose vodka) began importing the spirit into the U.S. Ignoring its reputation in its native land as a digestif enjoyed by grandmothers, he hired an army of attractive young women to sell shots to 20- and 30-something guys, and an empire was born.
If your snooty cocktail-loving friends give you grief for ordering a drink mixed with Jägermeister, point out that the spirit is flavored with 56 different herbs and botanicals and as such is essentially an amaro, just like Campari, Fernet-Branca and similar mixologist favorites.
“I’ve always liked Jägermeister, so when bartenders started to use bitter herbal liqueurs in cocktails, I naturally reached for it,” says Mary Bartlett, bartender and assistant general manager at Honeycut in Los Angeles. “I find it to be a lot drier than some of the others I’ve worked with, so it’s easy to balance.” In fact, she uses it as the base for a full-on tiki cocktail: Her feisty meister (see recipe below) combines Jäger with rum, fruit juices and, of course, a flaming garnish. Both Bartlett and Willy Shine, official “brand meister” for Jägermeister, cite the spirit’s relatively high alcohol content (35 percent ABV) as the chief reason it makes a good cocktail ingredient, and its complexity renders it mixable with all sorts of flavors. Among its many botanical ingredients that complement popular cocktail components, juniper plays perfectly with gin, and citrus matches well with fresh juices. If you want to get fancy with food pairings, Bartlett’s favorite flavors to combine with Jäger include chocolate and pineapple, while Shine recommends cucumber, ginger, coconut and grapefruit. But if you just want a drink, try one of the recipes below: an absinthe-rinsed tequila old fashioned, Bartlett’s tiki creation and a sophisticated twist on the old Jäger shot.
Mexikaner Old Fashioned
Created by Willy Shine, Jägermeister brand meister
• 1 oz. Jägermeister
• 1 oz. añejo tequila
• ¼ oz. agave nectar
• Orange Peel
• Star anise
Rinse an old fashioned glass with absinthe. Add a large ice cube and pour remaining liquid ingredients into the glass. Stir. Garnish with strip of orange peel and star-anise pod.
Created by Mary Bartlett, Honeycut, Los Angeles
• 1 oz. Jägermeister
• ½ oz. blended Jamaican rum
• ½ oz. five-year-old Barbados rum
• ½ oz. orange juice
• ½ oz. lime juice
• ½ oz. passion-fruit syrup
• ½ oz. orgeat (almond syrup)
• For garnish: juiced lime half, 151-proof rum, ground cinnamon
Add all main ingredients to a shaker and shake vigorously. Pour into a collins glass filled with crushed ice; mound more crushed ice on top. Place juiced lime half atop the ice, rind down, and into it pour half an ounce of 151-proof rum. Carefully set rum alight and sprinkle grated cinnamon over flame.
Created by Jane Danger, Mother of Pearl, New York
• ¼ oz. poire Williams (pear
• ¾ oz. Jägermeister
Pour poire Williams into a shot glass and top with Jägermeister. To serve chilled, add ingredients to a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir and strain into a shot glass.