Legend has it that drinking a bottle of Underberg a day makes Covid-19 lockdown pass by that little bit faster.
I first encountered Underberg on a holiday in Germany. Holidays to Germany aren’t something that is done these days, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a little taste of Rheinberg after breakfast.
Underberg is a herbal digestive. It contains only water, alcohol, and herbal extracts. The aromatic herbs are sourced from 43 countries.
The recipe and processing methods have been secrets held and guarded by members of the Underberg family, since 1846. This experience and knowledge regarding how to carefully extract the valuable herbal essences from 43 countries and how to turn them into an aromatic drink has been safeguarded by the SEMPER IDEM secret procedure. This is followed by several-month long maturation periods in casks made of Slovenian oak.
The taste is bitter, intensely herbaceous and slightly licoricey. It heats the throat nicely as it washes down. It comes in tiny 20ml bottles wrapped in paper, crowned with a distinctive green bottle top.
Underberg’s Tops & More loyalty program injects some cool fun into the drinking experience. Customers can collect the green bottle tops, then mail them to Underberg to exchange for collectible rewards. This includes Underberg-branded toy trucks, aprons, glasses, picnic blankets, pasta plates and more.
It is a nostalgic experience collecting bottle tops and sending them off, then wondering when the reward will arrive. There are very few loyalty programs in the world that operate in that way anymore, despite that being the original design of the first ever loyalty program started by B.T. Babbitt in the 1850’s.
When the reward finally arrives, the feeling of opening the package is akin to Christmas morning.
It is a delightful experience to drink Underberg straight or over a cube of ice. My favourite way to consume it is in an original cocktail I designed recently, The Deutsch Moose.
Here’s the recipe for The Deutsch Moose if you’d like to try it:
20ml bottle Underberg
90ml Maidenii White Vermouth
90ml lemon juice
60 ml maple syrup
Combine the Maidenii White Vermouth, lemon juice and maple syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Pour into a glass. Open the bottle of Underberg and pour on top. Partner with döppekooche, rheinisches apfelkraut and a selection of cured meats.