Most of us are most familiar with Jägermeister as a slightly sweet and particularly potent shot that's easy to drink and fun to say. It’s eminent slammability is what has made Jäger the seventh largest selling premium spirit across the globe. But before you slam your next shot, take just a moment to sniff and sip. You’ll get hits of cinnamon, star anise, ginger and cardamom. There’s a lot going on in that glass — the spirit is a closely guarded recipe of 56 herbs, roots, blossoms and fruits, first developed in 1934 by German hunting enthusiast Kurt Mast developed the bittersweet liqueur as a way to stay warm while tracking elk in the Alps. As you do.
The herbal aspects of the blend have made an increasingly popular cocktail ingredient as of late, but the Jägermeister team recently launched a campaign to try to get us to think of the spirit as a culinary ingredient with Charred BBQ, a summer long contest which challenged Jägermeister fans and foodies to create a unique BBQ recipe highlighting the liqueur.
Which is how we found ourselves at a late summer lunch, sipping some Jägermeister cocktails designed by mixologist Todd Richman and sitting on a panel with fellow judges Chopped regular Chris Santos, chef and owner of Beauty & Essex and The Stanton Social; Jose Mangin, Director of Heavy Metal & Rock at Sirius XM Radio; Daniel Delaney, chef of BrisketTown and Smokeline, and Cliff Rigano, Director of Music Marketing at Jägermeister to taste the finalists, one in each category — Cow, Fowl and Hog — and crown an ultimate “Charred BBQ” winner. The judging categories, were overall deliciousness, which all three dishes — Screamin’ Jäger Burger
, Jägermeister Thai Curried Pork Ribs
, and Jägermeister-Scented BBQ Chicken
— excelled at, use of Jägermeister, creativity and the way the dish paired with “A deer and a beer”, in this case, a shot of Jager and a Sam Adams Cherry Wheat.
The chicken got high marks for innovation for using maltodextrine to transform the liquid Jägermeister into a superfine powder which became the base of a rub. The burger called for the Jägermeister to be mixed in with the ground beef and also in a Jager jalapeno aioli and paired particularly well with both the deer and the beer. But the overall winner was the sweet and spicy ribs which were succulent and well caramelized, in part due to the sugar content of the spirit in the glaze. Check out the recipes for all of the finalists and the cocktails here