While Jägermeister may be synonymous with shots and partying in the U.S., in its home country of Germany, the herbal liqueur is actually enjoyed much more conservatively, oftentimes quietly sipped to aid digestion after a heavy meal. Made with 56 different herbs, fruits, roots and spices—including anise, saffron, ginger, juniper berries and ginseng—Jägermeister’s unique, bitter-sweet, viscous flavor isn’t for everybody. But that hasn’t stopped the German spirit from cultivating its own cultish fandom here in the States, which exists apart from the college students who merely bomb it into a cup of Red Bull. If you fancy yourself one of these devout Jägermeister lovers who truly appreciates the German liqueur and would like to expand your herbal horizons, here are five tasty alternatives to look out for.
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Produced in Rheinberg, Germany, this herbal digestif is made by infusing herbs and botanicals from over 43 different countries into neutral spirits. Rested in Slovenian oak barrels, the elixir has a deep amber hue, a rich, almost vegetal flavor, and tannic bitterness. While its strong, almost medicinal flavor is akin to Jägermeister’s, Underberg serves as a thicker and slightly less sweet alternative to the popular German brand.
This herbal drink from Art in the Age is a robust and aromatic liqueur infused with birch bark, smoked black tea, orange and lemon oils, sassafras essence, and baking spices. Sweeter than Jägermeister, Root liqueur has a similar licorice-tasting base flavor, but with a root beer-like twist. It’s delicious as a shot and shares Jägermeister’s versatility in cocktails—especially tiki drinks and amaro-heavy libations.
If you love the rich, birch bark soda and cola flavors of Jägermeister, but can’t get past its harsher syrupy notes, try this Italian amaro. Made in Milan, Italy, since 1815, Ramazzotti amaro is a digestif made from neutral spirits infused with over 33 different herbs, barks and oils. A perfect balance of sweet and bitter, this Italian spirit has a higher proof than most amari—making it the perfect Jäger-shot replacement.
Gammel Dansk, which translates to “old Danish,” was developed by Danish Distiller master blender Jørgen Ketil Asmund in the 1960s as a Danish competitor to Jägermeister and Fernet Branca. Flavored with over 29 different types of herbs and spices, including star anise, nutmeg, ginger, laurel, gentian, cinnamon and tree bark, Gammel Dansk is intensely bitter on the palate. Traditionally served after breakfast or as a digestif, Gammel Dansk is less sweet and more aromatic than Jägermeister, but equally as pleasing to fans of the German spirit who might be looking for something with even more kick.
Fernet Branca not only has the same cultish fandom as Jäger does, but the two spirits also induce the same polarizing reactions among first-time tasters: They either love it or they hate it. The boldest, most bitter spirit on the list, Fernet Branca is a go-to alternative for any die-hard Jägermeister fan. With an almost menthol-like flavor and strong notes of anise, Fernet Branca is best reserved for someone who savors everything bitter, herbal and medicinal about the German spirit.