Making Jägermeister may seem daunting and the ingredient list too long to fathom, but the process is a year long adventure that is worth embarking on.
By Nina Jesih
Shutterstock: Africa Studio
Last winter my boyfriend and I had a bad cold and it really annoyed us, because we were planning a big party with our friends. Not even ginger helped our runny noses and when the day of the party came, we were actually considering staying at home. Nevertheless (un)fortunately we have very persuasive friends and we had to go. The evening started with dozens of used paper tissues and coughing, but it ended with a lot of dancing and the irritating pain was gone. So what happened?
We decided to drink only tea and nothing else. Until the moment a friend brought Jägermaister on the table and we poured it into our tea. It worked like a miracle, we were cured almost instantly. It was then that we decided this alcoholic beverage could be a remedy for us, if used moderately of course. So why not make our own take on Jägermeister, especially since it is so simple to make? And we started the long process of picking the flowers, stirring them and waiting for the end result.
During the process, that lasted from March till December, we came to know a lot about flowers and herbs that we weren’t familiar with before. It was a nice experience, because we bonded quite a lot on our long walks through the woods and fields, searching for the right ingredients to pluck. This was our little project, which we will definitely repeat again this year. And many more years to come.
- 2,5 kg (5.5 pounds) sugar
- 5 liters (1.3 gallons) apple spirit (or fruit brandy)
- coltsfoot / tussilago farfara (flower, March)
- primrose / primula vulgaris (flower, April)
- primrose / primula vulgaris (leaves, April)
- spruce tree / picea (spruce tips, April-May)
- blackberry / rubus (leaves, April-June, September-October)
- narrowleaf plantain / plantago lanceolata (leaves, April-September)
- common daisy / bellis perennis (flower, May-September)
- coltsfoot / tussilago farfara (leaves, May-June)
- chamomile / matricaria chamomilla (flower, May-June)
- wild strawberry / fragaria (leaves, May-June)
- juniper / juniperus communis (green berries, May)
- absinthe wormwood / artemisia absinthium (leaves, May-June)
- elder tree / sambucus (flower, May-June)
- yarrow / achillea millefolium (flower, May-June)
- sage / salvia officinalis (leaves, May-June)
- common marshmallow / althaea officinalis (flower, May-June)
- mint / mentha longifolia (leaves, May-August)
- thyme / thymus vulgaris (May-September)
- herb of grace / ruta graveolens (May)
- thorntree / acacia (flower, June)
- blueberry / vaccinium (leaves, June)
- white clover / trifolium repens (flower, June-July)
- fennel / foeniculum vulgare (green, June-July)
- cumin / cuminum cyminum (June-August)
- marjoram / origanum majorana (June)
- lime tree / tilia (flower, June)
- greater plantain / plantago major (leaves, June-August)
- St. John’s wort / hypericum perforatum (flower, June-August)
- walnut / juglans (green, chopped, June)
- rosemary / rosmarinus officinalis (June-August)
- tormentil / potentilla erecta (flower, June-August)
- chestnut / castanea (flower, July)
- arnica / arnica montana (flower, July-August)
- field horsetail / equisetum arvense (July-October)
- common centaury / centaurium erythraea (July-August)
- balm / Melissa (July-August)
- juniper / juniperus communis (ripe berries, October-November)
- Pour 5 liters of apple spirit in a big glass container.
- Place it in a cool and dark environment.
- When you pluck a plant, wash it with water and let it dry a bit. Fistful of leaves, 17 flowers (blossoms), 7 fruits (and also use your feeling).
- Put each plant in the spirit and stir with a wooden spoon.
- Repeat every time you put in another plant.
- Remember to keep your glass covered, so the liquid does not evaporate.
- When you put in the last flower, let it stand for at least two more weeks before you start making the real deal.
- Strain the spirit through a sieve and then again through gauze.
- Take ½ kg (1.1 pounds) of sugar for 1 liter (33 ounces) of spirit. So for 5 liters you need 2,5 kg of sugar, but for me it was too sweet, so use less if you really want the bitters to come out.
- Caramelize the sugar and take your time. Be prepared to mix for at least an hour and a half.
- When it gets nicely brown, pour the boiling water over. ½ liters of boiling water for ½ kg of sugar.
- Leave it on the stove so it starts boiling and mix till the sugar dissolves.
- Let it cool down.
- Pour into the spirit, stir it and leave to rest for an hour.
- Try it.
- If you think there is not enough alcohol for your taste, add ½ liter of spirit.
- Pour the Jägermeister into fresh bottles. And remember, this is not the one you buy in the store, so the taste is a little bit different. But you know it is made from the heart and much better.
I remember when we picked our first flower and we were not sure if it really is the right one. We were a bit scared, because we put it directly into the spirit and did not consider checking it again. However, it turned out to be the right one and I can say no one got poisoned so far, so it means we became quite good herbalists through the months of making our booze. Be sure to be safe and check with an expert if you are foraging for your own wild plants to make your drink. Many of these plants may be ordered, rather than hand picked.
I admit it, we couldn’t get some of the herbs, so we did not put them in. Last year’s spring and summer were a mess and many plants blossomed a few months before their time. We learn by experience and for this year, we know we have to start going outside a little bit sooner. But do not worry if you don’t get all the herbs, you can easily use the dried ones. And here is a little trick: pick up the plants between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., due to more produced honey at those hours.
You can use whatever amount of the spirit you want. This recipe is for 5 liters, so calculate how many plants you need depending on how much you want to make. It was funny, because I wanted to start with a small amount, so if something goes wrong there would be no consequences. But my friends said maybe we will have a beginners luck and we have to start with 20 liters. Now I am hitting my head for not listening to them, as the end result was awesome.