The herbal spirit isn’t just for Jägerbombs

By Rebecca Firkser
June 06, 2018
Photo courtesy Star Bar

Try to think of the last time you knowingly drank Jägermeister. Was it in a frat house, dumped into a shot glass and taken with a beer or Red Bull? Odds are more than likely yes. While Jägerbombs may remind you of gross parties and painful hangovers, Jägermeister shouldn’t be relegated to bros and off-brand energy drinks. A smooth, herbal spirit, Jägermeister is actually incredibly versatile. Technically, the spirit is a spiced schnapps, but is often used in the same vein as an amaro (a bittersweet Italian liqueur). Its bold flavor plays well with dark liquors like rye or Irish whisky, and it's also excellent with coffee. To learn more, I consulted a number of bartenders around the country to scope out their favorite ways to give Jägermeister the brunch treatment, and was surprised to discover just how exciting the spirit can become.

“The beauty of Jäger is it retains its prominence in a cocktail and will not be outshined, but it also plays nicely with others,” says Jace Sheehan of Citizen Public House in Boston. Sheehan notes that since the spirit’s flavor is so herbal, it works well when paired with sweeter flavors like citrus, vanilla, and coconut.

Les Baker of Star Bar in Denver, who describes drinking Jägermeister as “like riding a unicorn stag through a field of anise during a thunderstorm of orange and deliciousness,” likes a splash of the spirit with a bit of dark rum in coffee during a leisurely brunch.

A few of the bartenders I spoke with also noted that Jägermeister shines in lower ABV cocktails like spritzes, both of which are a boozy brunch-dream. A Jäger spritz could be as simple as an ounce of the spirit topped with sparkling wine and soda water, garnished with a slice of orange. However, you could get more creative, like Matt Prezzato of Firehouse Lounge in Austin, who makes a his low-ABV “Bold Italic” cocktail with equal parts Jägermeister and Italicus (a floral Italian liqueur), lemon juice, orgeat and a few raspberries for “a lighter, fruity beverage, ideal for an easy drink with full flavor for a relaxing morning.”

Jacki Schromm of Lion’sTail Boston makes her low-ABV Jägermeister-based cocktail with Amaro Montenegro, cold brew concentrate, and tops the drink with orange bitters and tonic water.

“Forget everything your friend told you about Jäger from their college days,” Schromm told me in an email. “It’s all a lie!” After hearing about drinks like these, I’m inclined to agree. Further, I’ve decided to make it my personal mission to remove all Jägermeister bottles from a frat party-fate. Who’s with me?