Just reading the word will no doubt conjure up images of dive bars, messy shots and not a few painful mornings-after. These, of course, are why you no longer partake. But while you were off advancing your palate beyond watery beer and shots, a growing league of craft bartenders has figured out ways to build complex cocktails with Jäger.
Strip away the frat-boy connotations and Jägermeister (which means “game hunter”) is one of the world’s oldest mass-produced digestifs (created in 1935 from a 500-year-old recipe), boasting more than 50 herbs, fruits, spices and roots, placing it on the same shelf as Italian amaros, like Fernet Branca and Ramazzotti.
“It adds bitterness and sweetness to a cocktail like any quality amaro, but affects the weight of a drink like nothing else,” says Sean Hoard, bar manager of Teardrop Lounge in Portland, Oregon. “That combination makes it particularly fun to work with.”
With notes of orange, cinnamon, star anise, ginger and cardamom, it’s born to be mixed, says Bartender Sean Kenyon of Williams & Graham in Denver, who urges those who swore off the stuff to give it another, er, shot—in a cocktail.
“It can be the drink’s main base. And as a complementary ingredient, it adds complexity, aromatics and a subtle sweetness,” says Kenyon. “Despite its recent party pedigree, Jäger really is ideal for the mature palate.”
The New Jäger Bomb: Sean Kenyon’s Früsch and Grün cocktail
Combine 1½ ounces Jägermeister, ¾ ounce lime juice, ¾ ounce cucumber juice and a basil leaf in a shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a basil leaf.