Cover Story - July 2006

Mammoth is Wild about Jägermeister

By: Meridith May

The Southern Wine & Spirits Team is on the Mountain with Sidney Frank Importing’s Eileen Callahan. Clockwise from front: Bruce Fredine, division manager; Gian Frigerio, Mammoth sales rep; and Wine Manager Bill Brandel.

They call it “The Black Cabernet” or “Vitamin J” – but that’s the point, they call it. And they call it again. Jägermeister is THE call of the wild: a blend of 56 herbs that has skyrocketed its reputation to liquid stardom, peerless in its own category of spirits.

“In Southern California alone, we’re on fire. The brand has grown tremendously - almost 60 percent year-to-date,” said Don Barfield, Southern California State Manager for Sidney Frank Importing Company. The mountain will be seeing plenty of Barfield’s face, on-and off-premise as well as on the slopes, with an increased presence in the market. In addition to the formidably popular Jägermeister, the company also markets Corazon Tequila and Michael Collins Irish whiskey.

Western Regional Sales Manager for Sidney Frank Eileen Callahan and the Southern Wine & Spirits “Team Mammoth Mountain” brought Patterson’s to this booming ski resort to document the growth of a phenomenal brand and an equally phenomenal ‘year round destination, filled with talented bar managers, restaurant owners and loyal ‘tenders of The Shot of the Dark: Jägermeister.

Blane Chapel of Roberto’s Cantina sets up shots of Jägermeister at the bar

Like two downhill racers, Jägermeister and Mammoth are speeding to unstoppable growth spurts, with no finish line in sight. The bond between the mountain and the liqueur is based on a sales relationship as simple as supply and demand.
“We’re pouring a ridiculous amount of Jäger shots,” admits Wendi Goodwin, bar supervisor for The Yodeler, the “après ski” bar and restaurant on the Mountain’s property. The authentic Swiss Chalet was transported by boat from Europe in 1954.

 “I can easily go through a case a week.” Goodwin plays host to skiers, but even more so to Mammoth employees who throng to the Yodeler after hours. “We’re a Jäger bar to the max,” she says proudly, bringing us to the famous “Wheel” that spins a melée of shots from Sex on the Slopes to the Red-headed Slut.

“Everyone asks for Jägermeister,” she notes. “That’s a given. But sometimes they want fate to decide the next drink.” Goodwin spins, but Jägermeister is always the wheel’s fortune.

At the Yodeler, Wendi Goodwin serves Jägermeister ice cold off the tap machine. Note the “shot” wheel in the background.

Chris Edson is dressed to thrill. Head Bartender for Slocum’s, Edson doesn’t mind that we referred to him as a Jägermeister fanatic. Frocked in orange and black paraphernalia, Jäger key chains hanging off his neck on a lanyard, a pumpkin-colored lei brightening up his white shirt and armed with enough beverage wrenches to open 20 cases, Edson is Jäger-styling.

The restaurant and bar, owned by Cindy and Tommy Avena and Joe and Teree Minney, was named after Josh Slocum, the first man to solo-navigate the world in the mid 1800s. If there’s any navigating taking place at this fine Italian steakhouse (we love the ribs!), it’s at the bar, where Jägermeister is its No.1 pour, sailing new heights month after month for record sales. “It’s not uncommon for me to sell a liter before 6p.m.”

“I was always a good customer at Slocum’s,” Edson reports, “and within a year, I became the bartender.” That was 13 years ago, and Edson insists that Slocum’s is still the best destination in town.

SW&S Division Manager “Team Mammoth” Bruce Fredine with Slocum’s Bartender Chris Edson and Sidney Frank Importing’s Eileen Callahan. Photo by DREA PERRY

During ski season, Hennessey’s is so crowded, one must continue to brave the cold to get a seat. But endure they do, and with its prime location at one of Mammoth’s newer developments – The Village – the Irish themed bar and restaurant is a family-friendly gastronomic oasis.

General Manager Steve Velarde is a transplanted east coaster whose first California job was at Hennessey’s in Pacific Beach, near San Diego. With 12 locations (California and Nevada), the establishment is a true institution of dining and drinking.

Velarde praises Eileen Callahan, the western regional manager for Sidney Frank importing, for Jäger’s success on the Mountain, particularly at Hennessey’s.  “Eileen solidified our relationship with the brand – showed us how to sell it – now it sells itself.”

Bartender Ralph Yrure agrees. “Jägermeister is the most popular brand around – and definitely is the first recommendation out of my mouth. It doesn’t fit into any category. Jäger is its own phenomenon.”

Hennessey’s Bartender Ralph Yrure pours a line up of ice cold shots for his customers, saying, “Jägermeister is user friendly!”

“What’s not to love about Mammoth?” Bert Wheaton, bar manager at Dublin’s answers my question with a question. The snowboarder, surfer, fisherman knows how to have fun and working nights at Dublin’s, serving friends, talking and hanging out fits into his repertoire.

Born and raised in San Diego, Mammoth has been home to the athletic and business-savvy Wheaton for a decade.  Catering to the “young and hip,” Dublin’s serves Irish pub fare while its adjacent nightclub, Fever, is a high energy dancing and live music venue, where such popular bands as Agent Orange and Gutter Mouth have performed.
Forty televisions line the pub, making Dublin’s a one-stop outlet for sports fans. “You won’t miss a game,” Wheaton points out. “We’ve got golf, world soccer channel, snowboarding and we can offer access to any pro football game.”
Killer drinks are the mainstay at Dublin’s, with shots of Jägermeister selling for only $3 on Monday nights. But Jäger is a regular at Dublin’s and can be found socializing with any one on any given night.

“There’s something about pulling out a bottle of Jäger from the freezer,” Wheaton muses. “It’s like – ‘oh yeah, I’ll take one of those.’ It’s a great conversation starter; it’s like baseball; everyone’s got their own outrageous Jäger story.”

Eileen Callahan of Sidney Frank Importing and Dublin’s Bar Manager Bert Wheaton, after a day on the slopes, holding Jäger Blasters made with energy drinks and shots of Jägermeister.

The Restaurant at Convict Lake
It’s not the wildest bar around Mammoth Lakes area, but it is one of the busiest. Just a few miles south of town, Convict Lake resort is nestled in a canyon of dynamic and awe-inspiring beauty.

Rumor has it that the place is haunted, and restaurant owner Mike Melin can attest to that with some weird stories. But the bucolic setting and home to one of the area’s best fishing lakes makes the place more spiritual than spirited.

The meld of “Victorian Western” décor and gourmet cuisine makes the restaurant memorable, and Melin is one of the most personable people you’ll ever meet. “My wife Penny and I took this place over on a shoestring,” explains Melin, an avid wine collector who always wanted to have his own place since he washed dishes for Baffo’s restaurant in Menlo Park at age 11.

“Mammoth used to be the Sears Roebuck of resorts,” he quips. “Now it is heading for the term ‘boutique.’ We’re all growing our businesses and Mammoth is evolving into one of the most consistent ski resorts in the world. This is a great time to be part of it all.”

During ski season, Melin’s clientele is young and upwardly mobile, a Jägermeister-loving party crowd. In the warmer months, fishermen are more laid back and mellow, but Jäger still remains a steady pour.

Mike Melin, owner of the Restaurant at Convict Lake

In 1990, Stuart Need, a Kiwi and his partner, Andrew Flynn, an Aussie opened a club in the upscale ski resort town of Whistler in British Columbia. It would be 13 years later that the two would be drawn to Mammoth to start Lakanuki, a South Seas-themed restaurant and bar that was the first to occupy the prime property in The Village.
“It wasn’t about the skiing then,” says the New Zealand-born businessman. “But it is now,” he smiles. The partners – including Joel Springman who owns eight bars in Orlando – checked out a few world renowned resort towns, but settled on the California location. “We saw Mammoth as an up and coming community,” Need states. And they were sure right about that.

As much as Lakanuki professes itself an island-inspired pub, with its tiki, provocative Hawaiian girls art posters and aloha motif, it still manages to be a huge customer for Jägermeister. “I think it’s that European Après Ski image,” Need says of the liqueur. “I always say, Jäger is a healthy alternative to eating!”

Lakanuki owner Stuart Need with SW&S sales rep Gian Frigerio, who now lives in the community.

Lakanuki artwork inset

A life-size statue of a wooly Mammoth can be seen from Tusks, the iconic ski bar in the Main Lodge on the Mountain. It’s July and the ski season is just ending, but Namay Smith, a bartender here for seven years, is gearing up for the new season.

“I’ll probably do some traveling before summer really gets going,” she tells Patterson’s. Smith, a snowboarder, has left the slopes for exotic voyages to Europe and Australia. Tahiti will be her destination this summer.

“We may take a short break, but Jägermeister never does. It’s the hot ticket here and always on call. Once one person asks for it, it has a domino effect. Jäger’s contagious.”

Namay Smith, bartender at Tusks at the Main Lodge on the Mountain

The Mogul
Have you ever been to a restaurant where your server cooks your meal? It’s a fantastic concept and at the Mogul, where that close personal relationship with your waitperson and your meal makes for a custom experience.

A segue from down-home comfort food to a relaxing cocktail lounge atmosphere makes the Mogul a less bumpy transition for those who want to sip before or after dinner. While the wine list offers a fascinating selection, the bar is stocked with premium brands.

Owner Carey Sigmen has been a Mammoth resident for 24 years. “I can blame my love of skiing on changing my life forever.” Sigmen took six months off from a corporate job in the San Fernando Valley and never went back.
“Mammoth is changing for the better: new hotels, beautiful houses. But there are new challenges that come along with it, such as housing for the work force.”

Sigmen is a positive influence on the community and is part of the consistency that keeps the resort solid. “We used to have six to eight months of good business, but with this steady growth. We look at Mammoth as a 365-day-a-year resort destination. The town is split: do we want to be like Vail or Aspen? I think we’ll be just fine being Mammoth.”

The gang’s all here. Left to right (front) SW&S division mgr Bruce Fredine, The Mogul’s Carey Sigmen, and Sidney Frank Importing’s Eileen Callahan. (back) SW&S’s Bill Brandel and Gian Frigerio


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