Jäger. The mere mention of this spirit can turn the most macho of drinker away or put the screeching brakes on any party. Why do people fear this secret recipe of 56 herbs, blossoms and roots? Perhaps they heard the stories of deers blood in the bottle. I mean, hey, there is a deer underneath a cross on the label, was this some sort of ancient sacrifice, a right of passage where we must drink the blood of the kill? Of course not. We'll dispel that rumor right off the bad – there is no blood in Jägermeister, deer or otherwise – the animal on the label is just a reference to the German translation of the name. Jägermeister means master hunter (or hunt-master, literally) and the deer is a prized game animal. The cross? Well that's in reference to St. Hubertus, the Patron Saint of Hunts, a man who learned in his youth to respect and conserve game and honor the lord through the hunt.
Enough history though, how about we get to drinking it? Packaged in the same distinct green bottle since it first hit shelves in 1935, Jägermeister smells and tastes strongly of black licorice, a trait that seems at odds with its reputation as a frat-boy slayer. After all, could anything that tastes like candy really be that harmful? I for one was never keen on Jägermeister simply because I disliked the taste of licorice, but being older, wiser, and willing to try pretty much anything, I decided to do the Jäger dance for real.
Several friends, one bottle, five different Jäger inspired drinks. Would we survive? Would we find something worth drinking? Well, duh.
The first drink is the simplest of course – a shot of Jägermeister, served ice cold. The company recommends that Jägermeister be kept in the refrigerator at 0° F which, as you scientists know, is well below the freezing point of water and damn chilly. A cool trick I picked up that can help cool the drink a little more, maybe — but at least look cool while pouring, is to strain the Jäger through a funnel or strainer of ice. Style points. The Jäger shots were easy to drink. I'm still no fan of the licorice taste, but the bite of most other alcohols is missing. If you can handle the taste you can handle the drink, as everyone from my guy friends to my lady friends to my mom can attest to. It was an interesting first sample, though Mom wasn't present for the rest of the test – thankfully. For the rest of the drinks we came up with a grading scale out of 5, which is explained below.
One Out of Five: I wouldn't drink this if it were free.
Two Out of Five: I'd drink it if someone else was buying.
Three Out of Five: I'd buy this at a bar.
Four Out of Five: I will definitely drink this again.
Five Out of Five: Hot damn this is delicious! A new favorite!
The Jägerbomb (or the Jägerbull). To create the most infamous Jäger inspired drink, all you need is a half-can of Red Bull poured into a glass and a shot of Jägermeister on the side. Drop the shotglass into your cup of Red Bull and then responsibly drink it as fast as possible. Another method a few of the group tried was to settle down, pour the shot into the Red Bull, give it a little stir and sip. Several amongst us thought it was tastier than a vodka-Red Bull, though the somewhat bitter taste of the energy drink coupled with the licorice sweetness of the Jäger didn't win my heart. Two Out of Five.
Dr. Jäger. This was the drink I was most excited to try — five or so ounces of cherry soda mixed with about 3 ounces of Jägermeister, stirred and served on the rocks. I found that the cherry soda diluted much of the punch of the Jäger, both in terms of licorice flavor and alcoholic sting, to the point that the drink was pretty refreshing and ultimately pretty tasty. If Jäger is on the menu, make sure some cherry soda (not cherry cola) is nearby and you'll always have a good standby drink. Three Out of Five.
Diesel Fuel. In engineering this night of testing, I tucked away the “diesel fuel” recipe in slot number three knowing that there would be some resistance to drinking this one. Hell, if the name references a flammable fossil fuel it's probably not going to taste great. Served over one ice cube Diesel Fuel combines one shot of spiced rum with one shot of Jägermeister, a match most definitely not created in heaven. The rum seemingly magnified the Jäger rather than mixing with it, creating an experience that would better be shot down in the future quickly or avoided. That said, I'll drink anything and I'll drink it twice. Two Out of Five.
Jäger Monster. If names were anything to go by, this drink seems like it should be a real killer. But just like you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, you shouldn't judge a drink by its name as this mixture of Jäger, orange juice, and grenadine was the most drinkable of all the cocktails we mixed up. It was a light and refreshing way to finish a night, and a bottle. To make it, pour two ounces of Jägermeister into a glass, top that off with four ounces of orange juice (I prefer no pulp when mixing), hit it with 2 teaspoons of grenadine, stir, add ice, garnish with a slice of orange and enjoy. The sweetness of the Jäger created a flavor with the orange juice that tasted somewhat reminescent of an orange creamsicle, aka, delicious. Four Out of Five.
It should be readily apparent by this point in our story that we all survived the night — sober — despite each consuming a hefty amount of Jägermeister, in fact among us there wasn't a single headache or nauseous feeling. You may have also gleaned from the tone of this article that we weren't doing kegstands in between drinks or smacking each other on the ass with a paddle. Jägermeister can be enjoyed responsibly like adults in a variety of ways, none of which have to end in shenanigans or gastro-evacuations. Perhaps Jäger's sweetness is also its curse. I began thinking that perhaps the reason why so many people thought of Jägermeister as the devil drink back in college was that after pounding down beers or a half dozens shots, capping that off with a sweet liquor is probably not the greatest idea in the world.
Without a doubt, Jägermeister is unfairly demonized as some sort of potent witches brew of blood when really it belongs on your liquor shelf (err, in your freezer) just as much as any alcohol. If you're afraid of this drink or even not a huge fan of the taste, live a little and be bold – buy a bottle and mix up some Dr. Jägers (he's a doctor, you can trust him) or the nicest monster you'll ever meet.