Wilhelm Mast was a vinegar company and wine dealer in the city of Wolfenbüttel, Germany. His son, Curt Mast (1897–1970), was enthusiastic about the manufacture of spirits and liqueurs and always keen to help his father in the industry, even at an early age. In 1934, at the age of 37, once he took over his father’s company, Curt devised the recipe for “Jägermeister.”
Curt was an enthusiastic hunter. The name Jägermeister in German accurately means “Master Hunter,” “Hunt Master,” or “master of the hunt.” It is a name for a high-ranking executive in charge of issues associated with hunting and gamekeeping. The name Jägermeister had survived as a job title for many eras. In 1934 the latest Reichsjagdgesetz (Reich Hunting Law) re-characterized the term, applying it to head foresters, game wardens, and gamekeepers in the German public service. Hermann Göring was assigned Reichsjägermeister (Reich Hunting Master) when the new hunting law was established. Thus, when Jägermeister was established in 1935, its name was already familiar to Germans, who sometimes called the product “Göring-Schnaps.”
Jägermeister came to more extensive international attention, primarily through the work of Sidney Frank (1919–2006). He ran an American liquor importation business. From the 1980s, he advertised the drink in the youth and student market as a drink for parties – a pretty different niche to its traditional conservative brand position in its native German market. New York magazine quoted a market research firm describing him as “a promotional genius” for making “a liqueur with an unpronounceable name. Drunk by older, blue-collar Germans as an after-dinner digestive aid… synonymous with ‘party.’ The Mast-Jägermeister company ultimately purchased Sidney Frank Importing in 2015.