Ask a Bartender: Katie from Loretta’s Last Call
Loretta’s Last Call has been providing The Fenway with a little bit of southern comfort since its opening in 2014. This sturdy neighborhood Honky Tonk offers warm oaky welcomes, southern comfort foods and down-home cocktails all within a hop, skip, and a jump of Fenway Park and the House of Blues. Boasting bluegrass music most nights of the week, Loretta’s is fast becoming a go-to spot for live music. And, if you’re in the mood to move after your first taste of their white lightning, they also offer line dancing.
We spoke with resident bartender Katie Jarvi about Loretta’s DIY infusions, the best way to drink moonshine, being a boss, and what makes The Fenway area unique.
Are you from around the Boston area originally?
No, I’m from Connecticut originally, but my family moved up here when I was 18 so I’ve been here for a while. I know the area. I spent all my summers working on Lansdowne Street and I started at the Lansdowne Pub and that’s how I ended up at Loretta’s.
What kept bringing you back to Lansdowne Street?
I originally just started working baseball season, which is fast paced and fun and short. I would just come for a couple months and work and then when I finished school I was able to work a full-time job and I got to see it year round and I realized there’s stuff going on all the time at Fenway, at the HOB. This street is alive throughout the year.
What’s your favorite thing about Loretta’s?
Probably our infusions. We make different flavored alcohol ourselves. For instance, right now we have a vanilla cinnamon tequila. It’s regular tequila that we infuse with cinnamon and vanilla bean and it’s really tasty and it’s something you can’t find anywhere else. We had pickled vodka for a while which people were a little scared of but it took the bite away from the vodka so it was great for shots and really great in Bloody Mary’s. Our most popular infusion is our habanero tequila. You can take it as a shot, you can put in a margarita, you can put it with any normal mixer and it gives it some extra spice.
Any insider tips for drinking and dining at Loretta’s? Anything we should ask for that we may not see on the menu?
Always ask your bartender to make a drink with one of the infusions—we always have something new. The Vanilla Bean Margarita. We always have some kind of specialty cocktail that isn’t on the menu that we’ve made. We also make a lot of seasonal drinks. So definitely when you come in, ask the bartender what the seasonal drink is. And it’s on the menu but I think people miss it a lot—we have a bushwhacker machine.
What is THAT?
It’s like a boozy milkshake machine. It has a bunch of different types of alcohol in it. I would relate it most to a coconut mudslide. It’s great especially when the patio is open in the summer. Even during the winter it packs a good punch and it’s a good start to your night.
What’s a good food and drink pairing for a newcomer?
Our most popular drink and, I think, our crowd pleaser is our own Sweet Tea and it has peach moonshine in it. I would pair it with one of our fried chickens. Probably my favorite is Erica’s Buttermilk Fried Chicken because it has a little bit of extra spice and is dredged in buttermilk so it’s especially juicy. There is nothing more classic than some fried chicken and a sweet tea that has some punch to it.
You just mentioned moonshine—moonshine is on everyone’s radar now and Loretta’s has a good selection—how do you walk someone through their first experience? What do you recommend?
Our proofs range. There are lower and higher proofs. And our flavors range as well. We have peach, caramel, strawberry, blueberry, and blackberry. They taste different depending on which flavor you get. It’s basically corn whiskey and for the first timer, I would recommend the blueberry moonshine and lemonade. It’s tasty and I also think it’s a good one to branch off of. Blueberry is our strongest so you get a feel for what moonshine tastes like and what you’re getting into. We also have our regular, straight-up, white lightning that’s unflavored. That’s a bit harsher and I recommend it if you like the taste of alcohol by itself. A great way to try it, without drinking it straight, is in the Country Mule which is like a Moscow Mule, but we use moonshine instead of vodka and it really highlights the smoky flavor of the moonshine.
If you could pick a February themed cocktail what would you pick?
I would say the Vanilla Bean Margarita with the vanilla and cinnamon tequila infusion, or the Beesting. The Beesting is a chance to drink bourbon regardless of whether you’re a bourbon drinker. It has bourbon, sweet tea, fresh lemon juice, honey, simple, mint. It’s refreshing but you can still taste the bourbon.
What’s your go-to drink?
I like our Shoo Fly Punch—I’m a really big fan of bitters. Bourbon, bitters, a little bit of simple, ginger, it hits all the flavors that I personally like.
There’s line dancing here—Do you line dance? Is it a requirement when you work at Loretta’s?
It’s not a requirement but I’ve picked some up while I’ve been here. Probably not enough to piece together an entire dance. But people here go crazy for it. We have lot of regulars and we fill the bar. At the beginning, there were a lot of people learning and now it’s gotten to the point where it’s like 50/50. We have learners and we have people doing their own thing, putting their own spin on it, and it’s fun to watch.
What are the regular line dancing nights?
Tuesdays at 8 and Sundays at 7. It’s a great night to come in to experience the music and see people dance along. You can get involved if you’re feeling ballsy enough. And it’s easy to get involved because our instructor is great and really welcoming.
What do you personally think distinguishes The Fenway from other areas from Boston?
I think there is a sense of community in this area, especially between the bars. I think bartenders go to and from each other’s bars especially on Lansdowne and that differentiates it within the industry. I think on a larger scale people don’t always realize how much goes on in The Fenway. We have a concert hall. We always have events going on. We have three schools surrounding us. There is a lot going on that people don’t’ realize because they think of it as just baseball season a lot of the time. But we have a real neighborhood.
If you could pick any one person to walk through the door right now, living or dead, who would it be?
Today. Right now. It would be Amy Poehler. I’ve been watching a lot of Parks & Rec and I’m reading her book Yes Please right now. She is pretty cool.
What would you talk to her about?
Just like—being a boss? She’s really cool, really empowering, hilarious, and a great writer.
If you’re cut at the end of the night—where’s your go to bar?
I would go to Cornwall’s in Kenmore Square—it has a nice atmosphere. I would probably also go to the Lansdowne pub because I used to work there. So many friendly faces. I love their wings.
Being in The Fenway, you’re surrounded by fans all the time. Are you a sports fan yourself? Are you a Boston sports fan?
I’m a Boston sports fan. Patriots. Definitely. I couldn’t not be a Red Sox Fan being around here especially because I worked here during the 2013 season and it was so much fun and it made you a lifetime Red Sox fan if you were a part of that season. I like the Celtics and Bruins but I can’t say I enjoy them more than just going to their games, sitting in the stands, and drinking beers.
Do you get a lot of acts from the House of Blues in here?
Yeah, a good amount. We had Cole Swindell and Joe Nichols come in. Joe Nichols came in twice. Once for brunch and then again for a late-night snack. The Swon Brothers came in. We get a good amount of country acts in here.
People say bartenders are like psychologists—what’s the best piece of advice you can offer your patrons or the people of the Fenway?
Close out your tab at the end of the night? Don’t forget your credit card!