Underberg, the name either means absolutely nothing to you or it’s the incredible little bottle that you can’t live without.
You can be forgiven if you’ve never heard of Underberg before. To be perfectly honest, I hadn’t heard of it either. It’s somewhat of a hidden gem that makes the rounds among German drinkers and has a fairly strong cult following in cities with a high immigrant population like New York and San Fransisco. And given the fact that it comes in tiny, and I do mean tiny bottles, it’s one that you’re likely to overlook. But that would be a mistake.
So what exactly is it? Underberg, first introduced in Germany by Hubert Underberg in 1846, is filled with mysterious herbs (from 43 different countries the company claims). The exact identity and quantity of those herbs are still heavily guarded by the Underberg family over 170 years after its creation.
Sounds a bit like Jagermeister no? NO. Underberg is weirdly classified as a food product in the US (although in Canada you can buy it at the liquor store) despite being 44% alcohol. And you definitely do not want to drink this for a night out drinking. Still confused? That’s ok, we’re getting to the good part.
Underberg specifically markets the product for an after dinner aperitif, something to soothe the stomach after a heavy meal. It’s a herbal bitter, that’s meant to be shot, and holy crap does it ever work. Go ahead and eat the richest meal of your life, or since it’s that time of year, a giant Thanksgiving meal, and prepare to beat that food coma back into submission.
Your first taste of Underberg will be shocking. If you’re a fan of bitters, than you likely have an expectation of the taste; intensely herbaceous and basically like drinking fire water, but it starts working instantaneously and you’ll never want to eat a big meal without it again.
You can call me crazy, but you actually have to try this to understand the appeal. We’re talking about a drink that has such an underground cult following that drinkers collect the little green caps for rewards from the company like branded plates, table clothes, aprons and more.
I highly recommend seeking out these little bottles, and pack a couple in your jacket pocket or purse for any time you have a large meal or something that doesn’t sit right. You will instantly thank me.