Jägerita Is The Margarita That Swaps Tequila For The German Liqueur

Bartenders love him. Fans ... also love him (although, not always at first). He is the Jägerita: A fusion of the best Cinco de Mayo party and the worst frat party you've ever attended. In fact, fittingly, the cocktail was first publicized at a party. As Portland-based bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler revealed to Small Screen Cocktails, it was 2008. He was flown out to London at the request of a gin company and asked to bartend a party, but the guests weren't just normal fun lovers. This was a gathering of some of the most highly acclaimed bartenders in London — and it was held at Simon Difford's house (a la "Difford's Guide"). But the star of the party wasn't any of these guys — it was Jägermeister, which, it turns out, isn't just for shots.

Morgenthaler himself sets the scene: While taking a break from his mixology duties, he overheard somebody ask world-class London bartender and former Bacardi brand ambassador David Cordoba to make his signature "Jägerita." Sounds wicked gross, does it not? Morgenthaler thought so, too — until he tried it.

Bartenders say yay for Jägeritas

Upon his return to the states, Morgenthaler immediately started spreading the Jägerita gospel via his self-titled cocktail blog and monthly "Playboy" column. In 2014, both Morgenthaler and Cordoba opened separate restaurants (in Portland and in Singapore) and made the Jägerita a regular menu item. Suddenly, the Jägerita had two well-known mixologists championing it to an unwitting global fanbase, which didn't take long to catch on. So, what's all the hype about?

A normal margarita combines tequila, lime juice, (sometimes) simple syrup, and triple sec. The Jägerita, by contrast, is exactly what it sounds like: A standard margarita with Jägermeister instead of tequila. It's a beautiful, horrifying, impossible-to-look-away-from masterpiece reminiscent of Frankenstein's monster or a double rainbow. Some recipes swap the triple sec for Cointreau, but they're both bitter orange liqueurs, so the change is more nuanced.

Nothing says "don't knock it 'till you try it" like a Jägerita. Indeed, this repulsion-to-bliss baptism seems to be the shared universal experience of most first-time Jägerita drinkers (or, as we call them in the biz, "new fans"). So, what does the cocktail taste like, exactly?

A citrusy, herbal cocktail from your dreams (or nightmares)

Forget everything you know and love about the bright, refreshing, citrusy profile of a classic marg. The star of the show here is Jägermeister, and it tastes like Jägermeister. The German liqueur is made from 56 top-secret botanicals and presents a strong herbal flavor. Perhaps surprisingly, it's comparable to an Italian amaro (think Aperol, Campari, Cynar, etc.), and flavor-wise, Jäger isn't that dissimilar from strong, herbaceous Fernet.

Jägermeister was created in Wolfenbüttel, Germany by Curt Mast, and fans have been enjoying it since 1878. In a lot of ways, the Jägerita is the product of the culminated genius of at least three different mixology masters — a "supergroup sipper," if you will. It's no wonder why Jäger and similar liqueur Fernet are bartender favorites today. (Take a closer look behind the bar, whether at a dive or a luxury lounge, and you're almost sure to spy your bartenders partaking in a "safety meeting" with Jäger or Fernet in hand).

The Jägerita combines the best parts of citrusy margs with the best parts of dark herbal liqueur. Plus, the cocktail is 41.74 proof, or an ABV of 20.87%, roughly the same as a classic marg. As Morgenthaler himself puts it, via Small Screen Cocktails, "[It's] super herbal, super tart, I can't say enough about it I mean — it's a Jägerita."