What do I know about Jägermeister? Very little if I’m being honest, which is why I jumped at the chance when I was recently invited along to a rather special dinner at Mjølner to find out more about this iconic liqueur.
Like the vast majority of people, up until this point my experience with Jägermeister has been limited to two very specific drinking scenarios. Shots, or the Jagerbomb (Jägermeister + Red Bull). They both have their time and place and I’m sure these serving methods won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. But as a liqueur, it turns out that Jägermeister is a whole lot more versatile than you might originally think.
What is Jägermeister exactly?
Jägermeister is essentially a bitter herbal liquer (think of the Amaro category of liqueurs), one that’s been around since 1935. It’s made up of 56 different aromatics that are ground and steeped, then stored in oak for a year; a process that’s done not so much to age them, but more to marry the flavours together.Other familiar names in the category include Chartreuse, Benedictine and Unicum, but unlike its counterparts, Jägermeister is slightly sweeter.
An evening with Nils Boese
Unofficial Jägermeister ambassador and all-round cool guy Nils Boese was in town to open our eyes to its versatility, and school us he did. Nils, the owner/ operator of Manhattan Bar in Hildesheim, Germany, is based less than an hour away from the very home of Jägermeister in Wolfenbüttel.
He’s the kind of guy that does things to perfection and is hands on in every respect, so when he’s not at home, Manhattan isn’t open. So it was a genuine privilege to have him here in Sydney doing his thing.
The evening unfolded with multiple courses coming out of the Mjølner kitchen, each featuring Jägermeister and each matched with one of Nils’ signature Jägermeister cocktails. The premise was simple, but I can assure you the that the complex flavours in the moreish food and the amazing drinks were anything but.
First up was a dish of Jägermeister-cured ocean trout paired with a ‘Pretty Amber’. If no-one told you, you’d never know there was Jägermeister in the mix, but at the same time if it wasn’t there this drink would’ve just been, well, a Gimlet!
Adding a couple of barspoons-worth of the herbal liqueur to the gin and lime mix lifted the drink with a delicious, refeshing floral note. This one is definitely going into a spring/ summer cocktail rotation for me.
Course two showed off Jägermeister’s versatility as the bitter agent in a Negroni, mixed with sweet vermouth and London dry as a ‘Count Mast’. We were asked to try the drink as-is, but before taking a second sip we were invited to express a lemon peel over the drink (I went the whole hog and dropped it it there). Sans-lemon the drink was great, albeit a tad on the sweet-side for me, but the addition of the lemon brought a whole new level of balance to it. A seriously tasty reinterpretation of the Negroni, this time paired with perfectly blushing duck breast.
Course three paired a super moreish 14 hour Jägermeister-infused short rib with the ‘Jagerrye Old Fashioned’ – a concoction of Jägermeister, Old Forester Bourbon, Cointreau and lemon zest – which worked incredibly well in cutting through the richness of that meat.
No epic dinner is complete without dessert and this particular one was absolutely cracking. Jägermeister and cherry truffle topped with mascarpone, macadamia and a touch of chocolate paired with the ‘Wake Up Call’, a combination of cold brew coffee and Jägermeister siphoned into a glass.
This dessert and cocktail pairing was part black forest gateau, part tiramisu and 100% decadent.
I’m not sure about you, but next time I see that iconic squat green bottle on a back bar, I definitely won’t be pigeon-holing it as a shooter. It’s so much more versatile than that. Big thanks to Nils and Jägermeister team for the eye-opening experience!