Jagermeister, the very name itself haunts the recessed and dusty darkened cellars of my mind. It lurks there behind doors permanently slammed shut decades ago and held tight by rusting locks and smoldering psychosis. False, evil, vile hurtful and hateful rumors abound about me and my old friend propagated by those I may have slighted, possibly wronged and even unintentionally harmed. I repeat that they are surely just rumors and more than likely lies as I have no recollection of most of the accusations and cannot verify many of the alleged atrocities with the few people who are still talking to me.
My friendship with Jagermeister started the day I turned 21 and, to the best of my knowledge ended the day I turned 30 in one final blaze of glory. Does anyone over the age of 29 actually drink this stuff anymore? Jagermeister seems to be a fountain for the young to drink from and a fountain of youth for those that seek to return to their glory days. As I indicate it’s been a while so I guess it might be time to take my more mature palate and what’s left of my brain and liver and open this bottle and visit with my old friend once again.
The green bottle with the red, white and green label beckons as it always did, friendly and familiar. The menacing stag with the glowing cross above his head still a dire and ominous warning of things that might go bump in the night. Actually, it’s way more friendly and holier than thou! Jagermeister actually means hunt master or gameskeeper hence the deer. The cross is in deference to the patron saints of hunters; St. Hubertus and St. Eustace. Many mornings, after all nighters engaged in lively debate with both St. Hubertus and St. Eustace, (who by the way cheats at solitaire) I would gaze half-blindly upon the bottle convinced that all the German words that danced around the label were some form of evil gypsy curse or dire ominous warning. Even though today I still have no idea what they mean, in the light of a clear and sober day, I’m certain they don’t refer to Lucy in The Sky With Diamonds, werewolves or bloodletting.
Jägermeister’s ingredients of 56 herbs, fruits, roots, citrus peel, licorice, anise, poppy seeds, saffron, ginger, juniper berries, ginseng, radioactive nuclear waste and God only knows what the hell else they cram in there on top of all that certainly must have Colonel Sanders rolling in his grave since he only used 12 herbs and spices for his recipe. And unlike vodka that distills one ingredient until there is no taste, color or odor, this stuff goes completely in the other direction.
Versatile thing that it is, Jagermeister at 70 proof is also an aperitif and a digestif. An apéritif is a liquor served before a meal to stimulate the appetite, while a digestif is served at the end of a meal to aid digestion. It seems a crying shame to let food interfere in the middle of all that stimulation. It is also a potent social lubricant which reminds me of a story I’ll have to share with you after I’m dead and buried. In a pinch it can be used to substitute for 10/40 oil in your car.
It gives nose like no other fermented or distilled product on this planet. Depending on its mood, temperature and ambience combined with your state of mind or lack thereof you can get 56 different takes on this and if you’re really lucky a whiff of fried chicken. I certainly perceived the anise, ginger and juniper. As it sat it in the glass it changed, like an olfactory chameleon, surprising me each time I picked it up. I know that no one under the age of 30 has ever smelled this stuff because they are too quick to slam it frozen down their throats. However, some day after your 30th birthday, you will have to try and slow down a bit and stop and smell the Jager.
It tastes much like it smells changing with the temperature and humidity and your attitude. It’s warm and thick in the mouth with anise singing the lead and a chorus of other flavors backing it up.
It’s surprisingly smooth and gentle with no sting or tingle and lays docile upon the tongue like a warm blanket on a frosty night in anticipation of the bogeyman striking from underneath the bed.
BEWARE because 56 herbs and spices and 70 proof alcohol, a handful of shots, a rampaging stag, two saints, a gypsy curse and a full moon will take control of you and drive you into the night howling wildly and madly and delighting in the moment and not caring what tomorrow will bring.
BEWARE tomorrow can be a vicious bitch.
By George Brozowski
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