Oct. 31 2014 05:38 PM

German herbal liqueur makes its way into craft cocktails


"Fernet is like Jägermeister for adults," a friend told me recently.

Surely you know what Jägermeister is. You probably know what Fernet is. One's German, one's Italian. Both are herb-based liqueurs with long, strange lists of ingredients and an up-front black-licorice flavor. But while Fernet's the preferred shot of cultured hipsters and makes frequent appearances on reputable craft-cocktail menus, Jägermeister remains that thing you got wasted on when you were 22 and didn't know any better.

Coin-Op's Ryan Andrews wants to change that. Back in April, I blurbed about the North Park bar's then-new menu's inclusion of Andrews' Jägermeister-based tiki cocktail, the Mick Jäger. 

"I'm trying to wrap my mind around that one," I responded when he emailed me about it. 

The drink's made with pineapple juice, lime, Giffard vanilla liqueur, cinnamon syrup and Angostura and Rx sarsaparilla bitters. Since Jägermeister leans sweet, Andrews figured it wasn't too far-fetched to go the tiki-cocktail route.

"And it worked," Andrews says. Indeed it does. It's tough to describe why it works so well. The best I can say is that Jägermeister provides an unexpected backdrop for the rest of the ingredients. I like cocktails that make you think about how the flavors work together, and this one does just that. If you weren't aware that the drink included Jäger, you honestly wouldn't know it was there. 

"People have all these preconceived notions of what it is they like," Andrews says. "Half the time, that's just ingrained from clever marketing."

Or, Jäger babes and Shotmeisters. 

The Mick Jäger's coming off the menu soon (though it will be available by request), to be replaced by the German Swizzle, made with mint-infused Jägermeister Spice, rye whiskey, lemon and sugar. If you happen to be at Coin-Op (3926 30th St.) when it's not too busy, ask your bartender to make it with fresh mint, if possible. The Jägermeister Spice does amazing things to the mint. 

Yep—Jägermeister Spice. Released a little more than a year ago, it is, as the blog Serious Eats puts it, "a kinder, gentler Jäger." The licorice-flavor's toned down a bit, and the notes of cinnamon and vanilla make it kind of a nice sipping liqueur.

"It's a lot more approachable," Andrews says, "a little easier to work with."

To give you a better sense of how Jägermeister might be used in a cocktail: a month or so ago, Andrews and a few other local bartenders got together to create five Jäger-based cocktails for a pairing dinner. Lion's Share's Has Mahmood came up with Jäger is the New Black, made with Jägermeister Spice, Nocello Walnut Liqueur and cold-brew coffee, topped with black-porter whipped cream. Andrews' contribution was the Mexikaner, made with classic Jägermeister, Casamigos Reposado tequila, Oleo Saccharum (a lemon-based syrup) and Rx Aromatic bitters, garnished with candied lemon peel. 

Intrigued? BevMo's currently got Jägermeister Spice on special—$16 for a bottle. For a try-at-home cocktail, Andrews suggests a Spiced Old Fashioned, made with equal parts rye whiskey and Jägermeister Spice.

Email kellyd@sdcitybeat.com or follow her on Twitter at @citybeatkelly.


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