Q&A: Daren Swisher of Hojoko

 

He might be the only bartender in town who oversees a menu with an entire section devoted to sake bombs. And like the rest of the cocktail menu, those raucous, messy drinks are just elevated enough: coconut Campari is dropped into Mexican Fanta; tequila splashed into pineapple shrub soda. Hojoko is the perfect spot for Daren Swisher, a Framingham native whose enthusiasm for booze has motivated 10 years of bartending experience—as well as a spontaneous drive to Kentucky to search for his favorite wheated bourbon, Old Fitzgerald—before he landed behind the bar at this fun Fenway spot. We caught up with the bartender to talk local destinations and desert island drinks.

Boston’s best drink:

The Bocadillo Sour at Blossom Bar. It’s innovative, but more importantly, it’s delicious.

First bartending job:

I ran a bar out of my dorm room for a few years in college. Is that a job? It made money.

Favorite cocktail pairing:

Vermouth and soda and a cheese board.

Day off drinking destination:

If it’s not my kitchen or back porch, Eastern Standard.

Dream customer:

While I want to say I’d make a daiquiri for Ernest Hemingway, I don’t think we would have a lot to talk about. So I’ll go with Trader Vic Bergeron, I just want to hear that guy’s stories. I have vintage copies of all of his books.

Desert island drink:

Any bonded Old Fitzgerald, preferably some DSP-KY 16 juice.

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