What is Jagermeister? This German liqueur is not just for shots or college parties. Here’s more about it and the best cocktails to make!
The word Jägermeister might conjure up the chaos of a college frat party, but here’s the thing: this German liqueur is working on its reputation. Jagermeister is a legit herbal digestif liqueur that’s ready for a comeback. Honestly, it’s got more in common with an Italian amaro than a crappy party drink. It’s great as a shot, but even more interesting mixed into cocktails like the Negroni or Old Fashioned. Here’s what you need to know!
What is Jagermeister?
Jägermeister is a German digestif liqueur made with 56 different herbs and botanicals, invented in 1934. It’s 35% ABV, which is relatively high alcohol for a liqueur. It was invented by the son of a vinegar manufacturer, Curt Mast, who was passionate about hunting. He aptly named his creation “Hunting Master,” the term for a German official in charge of hunting and gaming.
So how did it go from German liqueur to college party drink of choice? An American marketing genius. A man named Sidney Frank ran the liquor importing company that imported Jagermeister. In the 1980’s, he promoted the drink to students as a party drink and it caught on. So without Frank, Jager would still be a drink for middle-aged Germans.
Popularity of the drink in the US has slowed lately, probably due to its retro college partier status. But try it anew, and it has a complex, intriguing flavor that’s much more than its reputation would suggest.
How to pronounce Jagermeister? It’s German, so say it “YAY-gurr-mai-ster.”
What does Jagermeister taste like?
Jagermeister tastes herbal and complex: it’s thick and syrupy, with strong anise or black licorice notes on the finish. It’s most similar to an Italian amaro (bitter liqueur) like Amaro Nonino.
To get a sense of what Jägermeister tastes like, imagine a half-empty bottle of NyQuil that’s been rattling around on the floor of a rusted-out Buick Skylark for so long that the label has completely faded in the sun.
Put that half-used bottle of NyQuil into a blender. Add a cup of what hellfire and damnation would taste like, if hellfire and damnation had a flavor.
Now throw in a handful of stale licorice candies you found in a baggie underneath a metal shelf when you were helping a friend steal all the fixtures from a bankrupt candy store in a dilapidated old strip mall that closed for good in 2007 or so.
Blend on High for five minutes. Strain through an unwashed dish towel that you last used to clean up cat pee, drink, and enjoy!
Jägermeister tastes like despair and bitter regret. It tastes like reaching the end of your life and realizing that you accomplished nothing. It tastes like ruin and the jagged shards of your shattered dreams.
And there’s a hint of toothpaste flavor in there, too.
How much alcohol is in Jagermeister? It is 35% ABV (alcohol by volume), so it has a high alcohol content for a liqueur.
Why we like it
Jager is for so much more than a Jagerbomb (aka Jagermeister and Red Bull). Treat it like a German version of an Italian amaro. It’s fun to sip on chilled after a meal, or add to drinks like a Spritzer, Negroni, Mule or Old Fashioned.
What is the price of Jagermeister?
Compared to other liquors, Jagermeister is mid-priced. A 750 ml bottle costs about $18 to 20.
Best Jagermeister cocktails
Jagermeister is traditionally consumed as a shot, but it works in cocktails too! It’s best known for mixing with Red Bull as the popular party drink, a Jagerbomb. But this liqueur is much more interesting than that! Here are a few great Jagermeister cocktails:
First up, a cocktail that’s better with Jager: the Jagermeister Negroni! The German liqueur adds an intriguing anise flavor to this bold cocktail, pairing it with gin and sweet vermouth. It’s complex and even more interesting than the classic. (Sub it for Cynar in the linked recipe.)
Ingredients: Jagermeister, gin, sweet vermouth
Jagermeister Old Fashioned
This unique Jagermeister drink is a sophisticated spin on everyone’s favorite: the Old Fashioned. Mix it with rye whiskey and add ice: you’ll notice the black licorice essence on the finish.
Ingredients: Jagermeister, rye whiskey, bitters, sugar
Cousin of the ubiquitous Aperol Spritz, the Jagermeister Spritz is the perfect way to drink this liqueur! It’s got a nuance in flavor that’s much more intriguing than the sweet, citrusy orange standard. (Sub it for Cynar in the linked recipe.)
Ingredients: Jagermeister, sparkling wine, club soda
Jagermeister Paper Plane
Here’s one of our top modern cocktails, redone: the Paper Plane! This one is a brilliant study in balance and contrast. It’s bitter, sweet and tangy all at once, hitting a magical synergy between the bourbon and amaro. Because Jagermeister tastes a lot like Amaro Nonino, it’s a perfect swap here. (Sub it for Amaro Nonino in the linked recipe.)
Ingredients: Bourbon whiskey, Aperol, Jagermeister, lemon juice
Jagermeister is surprisingly good in a Moscow Mule! The bold flavor of Jager melds well into the assertive ginger beer. It’s oddly refreshing and a great use for this German liqueur. (Sub it for vodka in the linked recipe.)
Ingredients: Jagermeister, ginger beer, lime
A favorite way to drink Jagermeister around here? With club soda! Just add bubbles and it tastes beautifully effervescent: almost like cola! It’s a quick and easy way to make it sippable. (Sub it for whiskey in the linked recipe.)
Ingredients: Jagermeister, club soda
Jagermeister and Ginger Ale
Another great mixer for Jagermeister? Ginger ale! The sweet, bubbly ale melds seamlessly with the bitter, herbal liqueur. This one’s a little smoother than the Mule above. (Sub it for tequila in the linked recipe.)
Ingredients: Jagermeister, ginger ale
Last up in our Jagermeister cocktails: the Screwdriver! Also known as Jagermeister and orange juice, it’s a seamless pairing: bitter, herbal liqueur and sweet tart juice. (Sub it for vodka in the linked recipe.)
Ingredients: Jagermeister, orange juice