An Ode to the Jägerbomb, Nightlife’s Most Maligned Drink
It is not designed to be sipped and savored, poured slowly and pored over. You down it.
This post ran originally on THUMP UK.
You don't really need me to remind you that us Britons have an uneasy relationship with alcohol. You don't need to think about the way we consume drink like Morrisons that are going to stop selling Campo Viejo tomorrow, because you've lived that life of excess, weekend after weekend. You've woken up morning after morning, mouth dry, head pounding, lips stained, wallet emptied, your inner voice sadly intoning one word over and over: why?
The whys of drinking are arguably more interesting than the whats, but every so often they entwine. We drink because we're sad, frustrated, bored, elated, anxious. We drink because the temporary loosening of inhibition offered by an always-inviting pint gives us the delusion of self-control. We drink because drink everyone else around us is drinking. Drinking consumes us, becomes us. In pubs and clubs, on park benches and tatty sofas, you'll find us drinking.
Sometimes, though, we drink because we want to get drunk. And there's no finer way of getting really drunk really quickly than the humble Jägerbomb.
The Jägerbomb is a precision-engineered tool of debauchery-acceleration. Drunk at the right time, in the right environment, it turns a few post work drinks on a Thursday into something approaching a party that even Dionysus himself would have been proud of. It is a fizzy, thick, full bodied weapon of mass destruction that wreaks havoc on the mind, body, and soul. And yet—and yet—we can't get enough of them.
Like pretty much all alcoholic beverages apart from Caribbean Twist, the Jägerbomb is an acquired taste. This is presumably due to the fact that both its components, drunk alone, taste like utter shit. Red Bull is one of the foulest drinks on the planet, and Jägermeister isn't far behind. This pair of medicinal tasting liquids somehow, when consumed inside one another, coalesce into something utterly delicious. Something too delicious, possibly.
Unlike the humble pint, or glass of wine, or shot of tequila, or pitcher of Cheeky V, the Jägerbomb is frowned upon by all and sundry. It has become a byword for the kind of bog-standard high street hedonism that sent the nation into the tabloid-hell that was Binge Britain. In fact, the Jägerbomb was, in its own way, the emblem of Binge Britain's wanton wasted-ness, a harbinger of a vomit-splattered doom, a kebab-breathed horseman of a sloppy apocalypse.
It became a drink associated primarly with fuckheaded students, students who were suddenly rampaging through city centres, pissing on commemorative plaques, throwing traffic cones at horses, and shagging potholes outside Gourmet Burger Kitchen for kicks. For all our much-touted faux-tolerance that kind of undisguised, unbridled, bare-faced, arse-out-for-the-photographer mindlessness wasn't permissible in puritanical Middle England.
There was an element of sneering classism at play: we'll let the proles have a piss-up after factory hours but we'd prefer it if they had the decency to do it our way. This, though, is surely the point of the Jägerbomb—it is vehemently anti-moderation, total annihilation in a dimpled tumbler. It is not designed to be sipped and savoured, poured slowly and pored over. Instead, one has to smash it. You down it. You fucking leather it. And then you order another round in.
If, as we tell ourselves and anyone who'll listen, the primary function of nightlife—be it going to a club, an evening down the local, a dismal house party in a flat you used to live in a decade ago when you were a student—is to provide a means of knowingly non-permanent escape from humdrum normal life, then anything that helps you find that place as quickly as possible is to be commended, surely? Nothing, absolutely nothing, has the potential to rocket a group of mates into the stratosphere like the bomb.
It's a ritualistic performance played out by willing participants. We've all been there in the midst of a flagging evening out, the distance between the pub and the club seemingly endless, where the pints aren't quite going down with the necessary ferocity. You're all crafting your own get-out clauses, preparing for the last overground train home, inventing previously-unmentioned family breakfasts or trips to Kew Gardens with someone from Tinder. And then it happens: someone comes back from the bar brandishing a Jägerbomb festooned tray. A cheer goes up. "Three...two....one..." Lift off. Here we go. Here we fucking go.
The act of sculling a Jägerbomb is an inherent part of a recent social phenomena. The sesh, which we've covered on THUMP before, is inseparable from the sticky substance so many of us line our stomachs with weekend after weekend. The sesh, looked at from afar, is a kind of post-ironic reselling of Binge Britain, a nihilistic renunciation of life itself, a self-indulgence of epic proportions. The Jägerbomb is a sesh-incubator if ever there was one, for a Jägerbomb is the epitome of instant gratification. It slides down the throat, barely splashing the sides, and the second it enters the bloodstream you're jolted into action. You fizz and teem and tingle, talking at breakneck speed, gesticulating wildly, possessed by the immensity of being alive and pissed on a Saturday night.
Sure Binge Britain was never sustainable, and yes, the sesh is an ultimately futile attempt at trying to renegotiate the terms of life you've been handed down from on high, but there is something fundamentally honest about the Jägerbomb, something honest in its dedication to getting people as drunk as it can as quickly as it can.
And that's why I'm asking you to raise a glass of the stuff this weekend coming: to life, to liberty, to getting so pissed in a terrible club that you'll become momentarily convinced you're watching Larry Levan in Luton.