Andy Mil and Benji Davies win the London heat of Jägermeister’s Meister Hunter competition and progress to the final
The 2019 Meister Hunter competition got underway last week, with the first regional heat taking place at London’s Little Mercies. Jägermeister have changed things up a little for this, the second iteration of the competition, as while last year Meister Hunter was purely invitational, in 2019 the competition was opened up to accept entries from all over the UK. Regional heats in London, Birmingham, Leeds, and Edinburgh will see a mixture of successful applicants and invited bartenders compete for places in the Grand Final which, having spoken to Jägermeister’s brand ambassador Florian Beuren, sounds as if it will score highly on the ‘epic night’ scale.
The ultimate Meister Hunter winner will receive a £3,000 cash prize, as well as becoming a member of the brand’s exclusive Hubertus Circle, and will enjoy a bespoke PR programme to raise their profile. The second and third place competitors will also get £1,000 and £500 respectively, making Meister Hunter a comp that is very much worth winning.
Prior to judging the London heat, I hadn’t tasted a lot of Jägermeister cocktails – most of my Jäger exposure has come in the form of bartender handshakes and chilled post-gig shots at music venues – and so I wasn’t sure what to expect at the competition. Given Jägermeister’s big and distinctive flavour, I wondered if most of the cocktails would be boozy, short, bartender drinks. While there were a few of those, many of the 14 competitors had taken s different path, choosing instead to focus on and highlight some of Jägermeister and Jägermeister Manifest’s delicate, herbal botanicals. The result was very diverse and interesting field of drinks.
Music and hunting were two weirdly disconnected yet equally relevant recurring themes during the competition, along with gin, tea, and chocolate as complementary flavours. It was clear that everyone at the heat had put a lot of thought and effort into their presentations, and on this note an honourable mention must go to Lorenzo Gavelli of TT Liquor who gave a textbook example of a slick, fact-based competition presentation, and only narrowly missed out on a top two spot.
Indeed, a number of competitors were probably feeling quite confident until the last competitor, Andy Mil of Murder Inc, stepped behind the bar. Andy’s presentation included a blender (always popular), fire extinguisher-refrozen mountain-shaped ice blocks, coffee, and custard. The performance was brilliant, and a sly look at the audience told me that some bartenders knew their chances had just faded. What’s more, Andy’s drink, Brocken Back Mountain (named for the highest peak in Northern Germany) was delicious, and this combination won Andy one of the two heat winner spots.
The second heat winner, Benji Davies of host venue Little Mercies, went a different route. While his presentation, which explored Jägermeister’s history and association with music, was less showy than Andy Mil’s, Benji’s drink was the by far the best of the night. Combining Caol Ila’s peatiness with Jägermeister Manifest, and coconut and citrus flavours was a stroke of genius, and the resulting drink was balanced, tasty, and complex. An absolute banger, in other words.
Congratulations then to Andy Mil and Benji Davies, we look forward to seeing you at the Meister Hunter final. And huge thanks to everyone who expended time and effort in order to enter and compete at the London heat. We will bring you news of the other regional heats as the competition progresses.
The Jägermeister Meister Hunter London Winners
Andy Mil, Murder Inc Brocken Back Mountain
40ml pineapple sage, pistachio and Haralred apple jam syrup
15ml filtered coffee
Blend it like Beckham. Serve in a rustic looking ceramic cup. Garnish with a super freeze ice shard. mountain, little tree and some smouldering straw.
Benji Davies, Little Mercies Not so subtle soundtrack
25ml Jägermeister Manifest washed with coconut oil and kafir lime leaf
10ml Jägermeister Manifest
5ml Caol Ila 12yr
15ml lemon and lime sherbet
Garnished with a lemon coin discarded and a Kafir lime leaf