Kaitlyn Fischer has been behind the bar at Loco Taqueria and Oyster Bar pretty much since day one. The Connecticut native, who made her way to Boston to attend Northeastern, took over as Bar Manager at the West Broadway spot earlier this summer. In between making margaritas and perfecting her sangria recipe, she shared some insights about her go-to summer drinks and life in the service industry.
Where do you work now? What’s your position? Where else have you worked in the last five years?
I just moved into a role as Bar Manager at Loco Taqueria & Oyster Bar in South Boston (and couldn’t be more excited!), but started as a bartender from the day we opened two and a half years ago. In previous years, I worked with Will Falaro across the street at our sister restaurant Lincoln Tavern for almost two years before he asked me to join him at Loco. Before that, I was bartending at a restaurant very similar to Lincoln back home in Branford, CT while I commuted back and forth to Boston to finish my degree at Northeastern University (nuts, I know).
I started working in restaurants when I was 16. My mom drove me around after school to drop off applications at Stop and Shop, Dunkin’ Donuts, a pet store, and a restaurant. I met my first restaurant manager Val, with whom I clicked right away, and started as a hostess shortly thereafter. I had a couple of other jobs throughout college, but went back to restaurants, including Eli’s on the Hill, where I did a little bit of everything. I worked as a hostess, server, cocktail waitress and would always be there until the end of the night closing the high top tables in the bar with a couple of bartenders with whom I’d become really close. I picked up things from here and there. I started bartending because sadly, one of my friends got in a terrible accident and passed away, so they asked me to step in and cover some shifts while staff attended services and took some time off to process what had happened (Rich was one of the best kids I had met and was only 25). I started learning a little more every day and haven’t stopped bartending since then.
What’s your favorite drink to make (or wine or beer to pour)? Least favorite?
My favorite drink to make is a Mezcal Margarita because our margaritas are the perfect blend of tart, sweet and refreshing. In terms of wine/beer, I’m really excited about this wine cooler in a can we just started carrying. It’s called Ramona, an organic blend of Sicilian wine, lightly sparkling and mixed with natural ruby grapefruit. It’s like an adult Fresca! My least favorite drink to make is a Mojito, and I’d only ever order one on a tropical island.
How do you feel about the ‘mixology’ movement—does that term appeal to you, not appeal to you? What do you think it means to be involved in the bartender culture, if you agree that there is one?
This is kind of tricky. I definitely think that there is a bartender culture, which is great because it lends itself to communication about products, recipes, guests issues, problems, successes, and promotes support between different restaurants. Although I firmly believe that bartenders should never stop learning, the “mixology” movement doesn’t particularly appeal to me as an individual mainly because of the types of restaurants I’ve grown up in as a bartender, the people I’ve learned from (who I greatly respect and have passed along some invaluable lessons) have taught me that hospitality, service and creating a unique experience for our guests is of utmost importance. This is different for everyone, and while I truly respect a lot of the individuals who are really branded “mixologists” in Boston and surrounding areas, I’m more concerned that my staff has a great balance of knowing their stuff and being personable/gracious.
I’m kind of all over the map and it really depends on the environment I’m in. If I’m out to a new restaurant for dinner, I usually always order off the cocktail menu to try something different. Last week I was on vacation for a few days on Block Island and it was strictly spiked seltzers on the beach and Jameson gingers all night. If I’m drinking after work, I’m usually unwinding with tequila, either neat or with a splash of soda. Everyone gives me a hard time about always being on vacation, but no matter where I’m traveling, I always end up in dive bars (which are my favorite). Speaking of which, Biddy Early’s serves my favorite bud light bottles in town.
What do you always keep stocked at home? Are there different things you like to drink or to make for special occasions? Snow storms, sick days, having friends over, drinks for dinner, etc.
Rosé and tequila. My two best friends drink vodka sodas and White Russians so I always have a bottle of Tito’s stocked for them. I’m trying to have more wine on my roof deck this summer so my wine shelf is pretty stocked and I’ve been working on perfecting some sangria recipes.
Are you excited about one spirit in particular? Is there something really overrated or underrated, in your opinion?
As mentioned above, Mezcal is my jam. Smoky and delicious, and quite varied in their flavor profiles across the board. It’s an underrated spirit that we try to make more approachable here at Loco. Also, before we started doing Rum Punch Lunch on Fridays, I was apprehensive about rum in general because of a bad experience in college that swore me off of it forever. However, we’ve experimented with some delicious tiki cocktails and just recently had a training with Dave Delaney of Angostura Rum, and I’ve really started to come around to some fantastic tasting rums (Angostura 1919!) Plus, who doesn’t like playing around with super fun tiki drinks?
What’s something you wish the average guest knew about your job—not service-wise, but related to the craft of bartending. (In other words, apart from common courtesy and being a good guest, what’s something you think everybody should know about bartending?)
This is a life and a career for a lot of people in the industry who put in a great amount of time and effort into the prep behind the scenes – from researching new products and spirits to training staff members to make the total experience better for our guests. I hope guests realize how much work really goes into a daily shift behind the bar and that while we most definitely have fun doing it, we do take our jobs very seriously. We have a phenomenal group of regulars at Loco and are lucky that most people who come through our doors respect what we do.