Randi Schnider makes drinking Jagermeister an art form. She’s a bartender at Diamond’s Ice Bar in Kihei, and she serves the spicy brown drink in thick, icy cold glasses. In fact, I was ready to write off Jagermeister as the quintessential German liqueur you drink after a giant Oktoberfest bratwurst binge, until she taught me otherwise.
“Jager goes down so easy,” says Schnider. “It’s all I like to drink. The taste of it is delicious to me. Our Jager is ice cold–that’s what makes it so good here.”
At the bar’s Happy Hour, Jager is just $5. In fact, Schnider sells so much Jager–they’re the top-selling Jager bar in the entire State of Hawaii–that she celebrates her top Hawaii figures with an honorary Jager party every year.
“They send me hundreds and hundreds of pounds of items for this party,” said Schnider. “We are really excited about all the prize giveaways, like our grand prize the Jager barbecues. We are known for our shot ski, but this year we have a shot hockey stick. It’s a group shot, like the ski. Laura Mendolia will hold one end and I will have the other side. You line up the shots and then you all pick up the hockey stick and drink at once.”
Curt Mast first developed Jagermeister in Wolfenbuttel, Germany in 1935. Running the family wine business wasn’t enough for him, so he dabbled in creating distilled beverages and liqueurs. Once he got the 56 herbs, fruits, blossoms, roots and spices just right, he thought his spirit would be especially good for hunting enthusiasts like himself. That’s why he named it Jagermeister, which means “master of hunters,” and put the St. Hubertus stag, a patron saint of hunters, on the label. Jager hasn’t changed much through the years, beyond becoming the seventh largest liquor brand in the world.
“In 1974, Mast-Jagermeister of Germany appointed The Sidney Frank Importing Company as its exclusive importer for the United States,” Kate Laufer, the VP of public relations at Sidney Frank, told me. “Sidney Frank pursued new and creative ways to promote Jagermeister, and through the introduction of ground breaking initiatives such as The Jagerettes, bar parties, the Jagermeister Tap Machine and brand-sponsored bands, the company fueled sales and turned the little known brand from a few hundred-case brand to over two million cases per year and the number one selling imported liqueur in the United States.”
At this year’s New Orleans cocktail convention known as Tales of the Cocktail, bartender of year Sean Kenyon served the “Master Hunter,” a Jager, cognac and apple brandy drink meant to show that Jager can go beyond the bomb. This year also marked the first year the brand released a new liqueur, Jager Spice, a light cinnamon sister to the dark brown stuff.
“Jagermeister Spice is the iconic brand’s first-ever product extension in the United States,” says Laufer. “It uniquely combines vanilla and cinnamon spices with the legendary ingredients found in the original Jagermeister recipe. Jagermeister Spice specifically highlights cinnamon and vanilla to create a rich and complex blend of flavors. [It offers] a warmer taste profile; albeit one that is unmistakably Jagermeister.”
Whether you love the new Jager or are a traditionalist sticking with the original, there’s no doubt that Maui loves this aperitif. Don Barfield, the Hawaii manager for Sidney Frank, gave me a breakdown for the 10,000 cases sold in the islands. Oahu beats Maui with 60 percent of those sales, but the Valley Isle accounts for 30 percent of the total with a much smaller population and the greatest sales coming from a single bar.
“Diamond’s has been our number one Jagermeister on-premise account in the state of Hawaii for several years now,” he says. “Randi, Chris and Laura are a delight to work with. In fact, five out of the top 10 Jagermeister on-premise accounts in the state are on Maui. All are based in either Kihei or Lahaina. Per capita, Maui consumes the most Jagermeister in all of Hawaii. We love Maui!”
Hence the celebration. This Saturday, the Jagermeister party starts at 10pm with no cover. Jager giveaways will be drawn every half hour, and some lucky Jager fans will go home with a Jager barbecue. Dancing goes all night with DJ Illz, and Jager or Jager Spice will be just $5, with $6 Jagerbombs.
Everyone who walks through the door will get Jager goodies, and Schnider says that everyone should try the hockey stick group shot at least once. For Schnider’s daytime Jager fans who won’t be there that night, every time you get a shot this week your name gets dropped in a special ticket bucket for drawings that night.
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At home, try this Jager recipe…
2 parts Jagermeister
1.5 parts Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac
1 part Laird’s bonded apple brandy
Combine ingredients in a glass and stir over ice.