Jägermeister is the liqueur everyone loves to hate. Blame the Jägerbomb—or college, in general. But the German amaro’s fortunes have improved. Over the last several years, “Jäger,” as it’s better known, has graduated to find its place in a host of grown-up cocktails. While some iterations elevate the liqueur, finessing it into established formulas like the Old-Fashioned or Negroni, others fully embrace its down-market appeal.
Consider the Jägerita. As Jäger is often served ice-cold in shot form, incorporating it into a frozen drink seems only natural. David Cordoba did just that, subbing tequila with the herbal liqueur for a more biting take on the frozen Margarita. But by contrast, the typically chilled Jägermeister turns steaming hot in Dave Arnold’s Flaming Jäger, in which the process of caramelizing sugar yields an amaro caldo–like drink that’s warm in both temperature and flavor.
Meanwhile, Sother Teague, partner at Overthrow Hospitality, draws parallels between Jäger’s strong-bitter-sweet profile and the core components of an Old-Fashioned. His Black Apple Old-Fashioned builds off of the liqueur as a base, simply upping the spirit and bitters quotient by adding apple brandy and apple bitters to the mix. Similarly, Gaz Regan’s Negroni calls for Jäger in place of the regular Campari, retaining the drink’s signature bitter flair, but with darker, more intense herbal notes.
In an unexpected pairing, bittersweet Jäger teams up with funky aged cachaça in the Rio Grande Sour, where the two ingredients face off within the context of a traditional sour. Perhaps even more unconventional, the modern classic Death Flip comprises a daunting combination of the amaro, tequila, yellow Chartreuse and a whole egg. But while several recipes creatively incorporate Jäger, the late Brother Cleve’s Loser—named for the song by Seattle grunge band Tad—may be the most unorthodox. The liqueur is backed up by Pepsi, beef broth, espresso liqueur and spicy habanero bitters. It’s a bold lineup, made only more so by the finishing touch, which comes in the form of a Slim Jim. It’s meant to drink like a distant relative of the Jack and Coke, and it’s just the kind of recipe that manages to pay homage to Jäger’s past and present.