‘Deer season’ is ‘beer season’ to many. I’m not a big drinker, even during hunting season. But if I do, a nice shot of Jägermeister does the trick. It comes in a square green bottle, tastes like rich black licorice, and you look like a badass drinker when you ask for a shot of it (especially if you’re a female).
The original distiller was a hunter
Curt Mast, the original distiller of Jägermeister, was an avid hunter. The name Jägermeister literally means “master of hunters” or “master hunter” in German. It was also the name given to senior foresters, gamekeepers and authorities in charge of the local hunting regulations in Germany.
This fancy liquid is made of 56 ground-up herbs and spices, including licorice, anise, saffron, ginger, ginseng, and citrus peel that are soaked in water and alcohol for a number of days. It’s filtered and then stored for 365 days, filtered again, and then mixed with alcohol, sugar, caramel and water. Filter this bad boy again and it’s finally ready to be bottled.
Deer blood in a bottle
Urban legend says this 70-proof German delicacy is made with deer or elk blood. Sorry to bust your camo pack, but this isn’t Red Dawn and it doesn’t contain deer or elk blood. Although I think it would be cool if it did.
But there is something badass about it, even if it isn’t made with real deer blood. The green bottle has a 12-point buck brazen on its glass belly.
I can only imagine the number of people, especially hunters, who sit on their barstool wondering what the hell it means.
“Is ‘Jägermeister’ ‘deer’ in German? Is Jägermeister even German? What’s with the glowing cross between the antlers? Is this God’s way of telling me He owns the 12-point on my property? Is it made of deer blood?” The more you drink, the weirder it gets so let’s clear up a few things while we’re sober.
So what’s with the deer head and scripture on the bottle?
The Jägermeister label is known to many, but the meaning behind it is a mystery—a glowing Christian cross between the antlers of a deer and a verse from a particular poem, albeit related to hunting. For the cross and antlers, we can thank two hunters from 700 AD, Saint Hubert and Saint Eustace. Hubert was born and raised near Brussels in Belgium. He was an enthusiastic hunter for most of his life, but his passion for the hunt intensified after his wife died during childbirth. After that tragedy, he escaped to the woods and immersed himself in the hunt for everything from wild boars to roe deer.
Legend has it that Hubert was one day greeted by a large roe buck showcasing an illuminated cross between his antlers. Some accounts state that he also heard a message from God, telling him to become a hunter of men so that they, too, could be saved by Christianity.
Hubert obeyed, setting up chapels in the massive Ardennes and Toxandria forests, where hunters could attend church services before hunting on Sundays. He later became a bishop with the Roman Catholic Church. He died in 727. Even today, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of St. Hubert on, fittingly for hunters, Nov. 3.
As for Eustace, legend says he had the same vision and conversion to Christianity. I would reckon they both must have had pretty tight belts on those camo britches at the time of these sightings.
‘It’s the hunter’s honor that he protects and preserves his game’
For the verse, we need to look back to a man from the 1800s named Oskar von Riesenthal, who was both a hunter and forester. Turns out he was also a bit fancy with words when he wrote Weidmannsheil, even though he doesn’t get any credit on the bottle for his limericks.
Here is the verse:
Das ist des Jägers Ehrenschild,
daß er beschützt und hegt sein Wild,
weidmännisch jagt, wie sich’s gehört,
den Schöpfer im Geschöpfe ehrt.
Here’s what the hell it means:
Looking like a badass who knows about hunting and history
So the next time you’re hanging out with your hunting buddies, you can pretend you don’t know the ‘deer’ skinny on the Jägermeister bottle and then ‘wow’ them with your uncanny forte to know all-things-deer more than they do. Or the next time some fancy two-legged creature sits down next to you, buy her a shot of Jäger and tell her the story behind the bottle.
By the way, if she already knows the story behind the bottle, you just landed the holy grail of humans. Now don’t go screwing up everything I’ve taught you by drinking it the wrong way…
Don’t screw it up by drinking Jägermeister the wrong way
Humorously referred to as “liver glue,” this black-licorice flavored liqueur should be kept on ice and served cold – I store mine in the freezer at 0 °F (−18 °C for all you across-the-Atlantic readers). If a bartender or camping buddy offers you this drink as anything less than ice cold, consider him/her a newbie and demand in the name of Hubertus for it to be chilled.
And when you’re looking all badass like Gladiator for your vast array of knowledge, make a mental note to thank me later.