I grew up in a small town outside of Chicago with German traditions that included leaving my snow boots on the window sill on St. Nickolaus Day (December 6) and finding them filled with goodies, Hansel & Gretel’s Gingerbread house (twirling under the Christmas tree on an old record player), Oktoberfest (green Beer and Accordian bands), Apfel Strudel and yes …..Jägermeister.
There in the front of the china cabinet, with all the fragile crystal glasses and antique beer steins, stood a bottle of Jägermeister. My parents did not drink much except an occasional glass of wine at dinner on holidays so I never thought anything about that stoic dark green bottle with the deer and antlers on it. Until one day, I noticed my mom pouring some Jägermeister into a shot glass and downing it in one gulp. WHAT? Then she loosely wrapped a thin scarf around her neck and wore it inside the house all day. When I asked her about it, she told me that she felt herself coming down with a cold and this was her herbal tonic to ward it away …. and it did! I don’t remember my mom ever having a cold! Imagine my surprise when I saw a chilled bottle of Jägermeister sitting upside down on the bar at a restaurant in Chicago when I was in my 20’s!
Chicago has always been known as the frigid, windy city in winter. A year didn’t go by without catching a cold or a flu or bronchitis. And then I remembered the Jägermeister in the china cabinet. It’s a secret recipe, made with 56 herbs and spices, which the newer label now advertises. I have turned many friends onto this “herbal tonic” over the past 4 decades. It does taste somewhat like a medicine (which is probably why it is served chilled and iced at the bar), and it really works as a tonic! Recently I had a friend in North Carolina who had been struggling with an upper respiratory infection for weeks that just would not go away. I brought her a small bottle of Jägermeister and within 3 days, it had totally cleared up. I have a bottle in my refrigerator and use it the same way my mom did and I cannot remember the last time I suffered with a cold.
My mom was healthy, physically and mentally, until she passed away at age 94 in July of 2013 of “old age”. Every year on our birthdays and Christmas, we would always toast to our health with a shot of Jägermeister. It has now become a tradition in our family on Christmas Eve (and when we feel a cold coming on).
Keep in mind that Jägermeister is a liqueur, 70 proof alcohol. Use it sparsely and wisely… as an Herbal Tonic just before retiring to bed at night. And please heed the warning labels for pregnant or nursing women. Do not drink and drive. Too much alcohol is NOT healthy! You know the scoop…..
According to Wikipedia, Jägermeister is a type of liqueur called Kräuterlikör (herbal liqueur). Jägermeister’s ingredients include 56 herbs, fruits, roots, and spices, including citrus peel, licorice, anise, poppy seeds, saffron, ginger, juniper berries, and ginseng. These ingredients are ground, then steeped in water and alcohol for 2–3 days. Afterwards, this mixture is filtered and stored in oak barrels for about a year. When a year has passed, the liqueur is filtered again, then mixed with sugar, caramel, and alcohol.
Jägermeister originated in 1935 and is still the flagship product of Mast-Jägermeister SE, headquartered in Wolfenbüttel, Germany. Curt Mast, the original distiller of Jägermeister and son of the founder Wilhelm, was an enthusiastic hunter. The label on Jägermeister bottles features a glowing Christian cross seen between the antlers of a stag. The label also contains the following verse from the poem Weidmannsheil, by the forester, hunter, and ornithologist Oskar von Riesenthal (1830–1898):
Das ist des Jägers Ehrenschild,
daß er beschützt und hegt sein Wild,
weidmännisch jagt, wie sich’s gehört,
den Schöpfer im Geschöpfe ehrt.
According to Mast-Jägermeister SE, the translation is:
It is the hunter’s honour that he
Protects and preserves his game,
Hunts sportsmanlike, honours the
Creator in His creatures.