What do woodland frolics, Oompah bands, card-wielding magicians, sprigs of heather, and boozy cupcakes all have in common? Well, they were all markers on the map that was this year’s Jäger Road Trip, taking in five cities on consecutive days and making the most of the innovative talents of members of the Hubertus Circle. For the uninitiated, this elite group of bartenders has been chosen by Jägermeister for their outside-the-box thinking and prowess with cocktail creations, and is a community for likeminded industry experts to share their love of the herbaceous German tipple.
The aim of the Road Trip? To bring Jägermeister to the masses, and show just how versatile the liquid can be. “This year we really stripped everything back,” says UK Brand Ambassador Florian Beuren. “We wanted to put the cocktails at the forefront and make them the star of the show.”
So although each night was themed, the drinks were the focus. This meant on one evening guests might be sipping a ‘Madhatten’ – a strong and short Jägermeister twist on the classic bourbon tipple; another night they’d be enjoying a creation laced with Irn-Bru for the Glasgow leg of the tour; and on a different evening they could be sipping from a wellington boot or a thermos flask, surrounded by vines and picnic hampers.
Still, the fact that each Hubertus Circle member got to choose their own concept was a huge draw. “We wanted to give them freedom with how they interpreted their menu,” Florian says. Sophie Mackay from MOJO, Manchester backs this up. “Not many brands would allow the bar team to have free reign, so it was a great experience,” she says. Her evening saw a live two-piece band and a magician entertain guests as they drank some amazing Jägermeister twists on classic cocktails including espresso-rich Resurrection Martinis, Ginger Gypsy Sours and Jägermeister White Russians. “We came up with an idea and discussed it with Florian to see how we could get the best from it. But essentially we got to decide every aspect of our evening.”
“Jägermeister is such a great spirit to work with,” says Ben Allcock, from HMSS Bristol. “We’ve always had it on our menu – it’s a fun challenge to change perceptions. When we opened we had Oyster Bombs on the menu – it was this whole idea of ‘how can we transform the ubiquitous Jäger Bomb into something classy?’ So taking a shot from an oyster shell was born. For this Road Trip we wanted to play on the idea of the foraged botanicals that are so important to the Jägermeister brand, and bring our own tongue-in-cheek sense of fun with an ‘outside-comes-inside’ theme.”
So in Bristol we drank from wellington boots, flasks, and meringue-topped cupcakes. The foraging element was also showcased in Glasgow and Leeds… In St. Jude’s, Glasgow, Hubertus Circle member Ramsay Morris worked on a Scottish theme and introduced muddled heather and ingredients such as Irn-Bru into the mix, while Into The Woods at Jake’s Bar saw a plethora of pots containing herbs, spices and botanicals to use in the cocktails. And of course, in true Jägermeister style, there was always time for a good old knees up – Liverpool’s Oktoberfest evening at Salt Dog Slim’s had guests dancing to a live Oompah Band while the night was lit up with flaming Boilermaker cocktails.
“I think a huge success of the trip was that each bar showcased some amazing – and completely diverse – Jäger menus,” says Florian. ‘But these were never forced on people – a lot of guests just liked the sound of the drink and realised it was based around Jägermeister afterwards. They had a great time and will ask for a Jäger cocktail on another occasion – and in this way we’re excited to be altering perceptions and changing trends.”
By Rebecca Milford