Jägermeister at London Cocktail Week

I realise just how lucky I am to live in London when I'm choosing a place to go and drink with my girlfriends. It takes just a short tube ride for us to gather around a table and enjoy cocktails garlanded as the world's best at the likes of Dandelyan (please don't close down, thanks) or Bar Termini. In my opinion, there's nothing better than a well crafted cocktail to sip and savour while catching up with friends. It represents a moment of calm and indulgence in our otherwise frantic corporate weeks, a much-needed foil to harried cups of tea and time recording. We may have moved on a little from the Cosmopolitan, but the old Sex and the City formula is a classic for a reason. That said, a cocktail is only as good as the sum of its parts. So when Jägermeister kindly invited me to London Cocktail Week, I couldn't help but wonder - would Jäger work in a cocktail?

Jägermeister have popped up this year for London Cocktail Week at the Big Chill, a stone's throw from the main festivities at the Old Truman Brewery. Their pop-up is called "Der Wald", meaning 'the wood' in German, and the vibe is best described as "Blade Runner meets après-ski" - creeping ivy intertwines with fairy lights on the terrace outside, while inside is moody and loud, the instantly recognisable Jäger stag's head looming in neon out of the darkness, a modern twist on the typical taxidermied stag's head you might see mounted on the wall in Austro-German ski chalets.

Now, I must admit that Jägermeister is a drink indelibly inked on to the fabric of my university days, a relic of my teenage past in the form of - what else? - the Jägerbomb, a shot dropped into a glass of Red Bull and downed, not often tasted or savoured in any way. I was interested to expand my horizons and taste the digestif as the makers intended: ice cold at -18ºC, and this time in cocktail form. (Although this is no radical rebranding - icy shots are still served at happy hour from 7-8 PM!)

I chose one of the brand's signature cocktails - a Jägermeister Mule, topped with Fever Tree ginger beer, orange and lemongrass bitters and a slice of cucumber - and complete with its own little shot of Jäger, to be uncapped and poured into the drink. I suppose some things never change, though there's something a little more sophisticated about a miniature hipflask of Jäger (rather than its shot alternative!)

 I thought that the ginger beer in my drink really complemented the Jägermeister. It's an unexpected combination, but one that works well - its sweet, gently fiery qualities balance out the complex spices and herbal flavours of the digestif. 

Lukas, my partner in crime and hand model for the evening, chose a contrasting drink - a frothy Jägermeister Sour with egg white and lemon, in which the Jägermeister made a convincing alternative to the whisky element of the drink. While I can't say that I will abandon my favourite gins and rums in cocktails any time soon, it was a novelty to sip both Jäger-based cocktails rather than toss the drink back. These were definitely the most refined iterations of Jägermeister I've ever tasted - refreshingly, both cocktails tasted like drinks to be appreciated and not merely a conduit to get drunk.

 Our capable bartender was also highly entertaining, gamely practising his Tom Cruise shtick for the camera. 

We also took the opportunity to wander around the London Cocktail Week event over the road at the Old Truman Brewery, stuffed to the gills with more drinks brands we all know and love. It really reminded me of Taste of London - only here it was all alcohol and mixers. Which was not a bad thing by any means.

I particularly loved trying Real Kombucha - a darjeeling-based kombucha that tasted amazingly similar to prosecco, only non-alcoholic. I love the design and it was exactly what my cold-wracked body wanted.

Danke schön Jägermeister for expanding my horizons where it comes to the use of the digestif and for allowing me to attend London Cocktail Week. Consider my burning thirst for cocktails re-ignited just in time for the festive season - and on that note, I'm moseying over to Whatsapp to organise a girls' catch-up...

 I was invited to review the Der Wald pop-up as a guest on this occasion, but my opinions remain firmly my own.

Der Wald pop-up at The Big Chill (3-7 October 2018)
Dray Walk
London E1 6QL

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