I’ve been drinking Jagermeister straight up for years now, and more recently in one of its most popular forms, the Jagerbomb. But strangely enough, I have not paid any attention to the bottle label, until yesterday evening, when I noticed the odd (for a bottle of alcohol, that is) logo of a cross, radiating a bright light and framed by the head and antlers of a deer. [Image on left]
My first thoughts were “what the hell!” and I then consulted the most powerful oracle in the known universe, to solve the mystery – Google. I reasoned (with the wisdom that comes from a few Jagerbombs, safely downed) that this symbolism had the power to turn good drinking Christians away from the delights of herbal potions, or alternatively, entice abstemious Christians into a shameless attachment to the devil’s brew.
Well, according to the official USA Jagermeister website, the “real” story behind the logo is as follows:
For centuries, St. Hubertus has been the patron saint of hunters. According to the legend, in his youth, Hubert was a wild and unrestrained hunter, without responsibility towards the creatures that he hunted and captivated by the drive to kill.
Even on the holy day of Sunday, he set off into the forest with his dog and weapon and cared little about the day of the Lord. Until one holy day, emerging from the dark woods, a large white deer carrying an illuminated cross between his antlers confronted him.
From the moment of his vision, he devoted himself to good works under the banner of the antlered stag. He died in 727 AD, and centuries later he was venerated as a patron saint.
It is from this story’s inspiration that the Jägermeister trademark derives. The name Jägermeister itself is German for “Master Hunter”, and incidentally it’s not made up. Even in Germany today, there is a position called Jägermeister, which is an employee of the district’s hunting authorities who is responsible for the region’s hunting regulations.
My oracle also pointed me to a variation in the story which is available here, but I actually prefer the way The Bachelor Guy sums it up:
So there you have it. The real story behind the Jäger logo is about a bloodthirsty hunter who, after seeing a holy stag, became a saint. (Which makes you wonder how much Jager he’d been drinking.)
Subtle variations of the label are also recognizable in the picture above, but what is very interesting is the green border which bears the following inscription in German, which according to the USA site translates as:
It is the hunter’s honor that he protects and preserves his game, hunts sportsmanlike, honors the Creator in his creatures
or depending on your level of German:
This is the hunter’s badge of honor, which he protects and wears as his shield, to guard, while in the fine and honorable profession of hunting; which also honors the Creator and his creations
Now, with a much clearer head I can appreciate the rich history behind this superb beverage. And boy, is it versatile! Not only can it attract (and trap) the common housefly if left in small quantities around the house; it also attracts the ordinary barfly to many a pub around the world, and if consumed in copius quantities, some unwanted attention as well.
So the next time you prepare to down your Jagerbomb, spare a thought for St. Hubertus whose crumbling bones helps nurture the herbs that make this wonderful drink.