The delirious and disinhibiting effects of drinking Jägermeister

What makes the German digestif cast such a strange spell on those who imbibe it?

Bottles of Jägermeister.
Bottles of Jägermeister.Wikicommons

The last time I overdid it on Jägermeister I made a solemn promise never to try the drink again. My friends will vouch for this, having had to listen to me droning on about it on more than one occasion. In case you didn’t know, this 35-percent alcohol by volume German digestif made from herbs and spices not only removes your inhibitions, but prevents you from remembering the next morning. I think the stuff is brewed in a giant pot, over a slow flame in a cavern somewhere, surrounded by naked witches and wizards. The recipe is a closely guarded secret, which might explain its unpredictable effects. Though it’s also possible they might be explained simply by drinking too much of it.

The truth is she could have been transported through the skies by a psychedelic pterodactyl and would have been none the wiser

We’ve all heard stories from other people about what their friends get up to when they’ve drunk too much, usually because it’s not very dignified to tell stories about what we’ve done ourselves. I recently attended what was supposed to be a literary debate in a Madrid bar, the name of which I can’t remember. A group of young people were passing round Jäger in test tubes from mouth to mouth. In just under 90 minutes, presumably as a result of the drink’s magical qualities, everybody was dancing on the tables. Free Jäger if you take your top off? No problem. The air was soon filled with t-shirts. The guys had Jäger stickers over their nipples handed out by the girls, who soon took their own t-shirts off. Insane. A full-on orgy, with the bonus that the next day, we only remembered half of what happened. Inexplicably.

My curiosity piqued, I began looking into the matter, and soon discovered that a lot of strange things happen when people drink this delicious potion. One young woman I interviewed in the course of my investigation told me over a number of beers that she still wasn’t sure if an incident she thought had occurred with a night-bus driver really did happen. She had been out drinking Jäger to the extent that she ended up falling asleep on the night bus, waking up at the end of the line. She wakes up, or is woken up, and the driver gallantly offers to take her home. In the bus. This involved no small amount of maneuvering through the narrow streets of one of the capital’s outlying districts. She says she can’t remember if sex was involved. The truth is that she could have been transported through the skies by a psychedelic pterodactyl and she would have been none the wiser. Inexplicably.

Video: Drinking 40 Jägermeister shots.

Public transport and alcohol are a deadly combination. The worst story I heard was what happened to two young men stupid enough to follow their gin and tonics with Jägermeister and mamajuana shots. The effect was nuclear. They were only able to piece together the events of the evening through several WhatsApps and close interrogation of the staff working in the bars they had been to. They claim to have turned up at a club in Chueca, the capital’s gay district, and then transformed themselves into top models from the 1990s, creating an imaginary catwalk in the middle of the place, and proceeding to waltz up and down until closing time at around 5am. One of them ended up a few hours later outside an out-of-town Ikea store with no idea how he got there, while his friend woke up at Guadalajara train station, about an hour outside Madrid, some time around midday. They have virtually no memory of what happened. Inexplicably.

And there are any number of similar stories: soldiers who woke up the entire base in the early hours of the morning doing war games; office workers dressing up in women’s clothing during work lunches; teachers playing children’s games in the bar next to their school after one Jäger too many…

The simple fact is that Jäger strips away your inhibitions and brings out the more playful side of your nature, inducing you to commit minor acts of madness and do things you wouldn’t normally, providing of course you drink in moderation. Secret recipe, or just boozing? If the Romans had invented Jägermeister two millennia ago, I’d bet my hat that there would be no war, no police, and no austerity.

Or perhaps we just wouldn’t remember.


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