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‘Fun, weird, easy’ drinks at Hojoko bar in the Verb Hotel

Raul Zelaya for The Boston Globe/Globe Freelance

The Japanese-inspired Hojoko bar in the Verb Hotel in the Fenway is a unique place filled with whimsy hanging from every corner (Godzilla heads, robots, inflated blowfish, flamingos, and Hello Kitty). Where most contemporary cocktail bars tend to go the darkly lit route, Hojoko's vivid green bar top is illuminated from all directions with bright colored lights, many from the neon drinks displayed behind the bar.

The menu offers contemporary cocktails with Asian twists, made by a bar team whose members have concocted an adventurous blend of drinks, infusions, and a sake collection (including one on draft). The atmosphere is relaxed, with a quirky Japanese design aesthetic. Joe Cammarata manages the bar with Daren Swisher, and they work from a menu that Cammarata refers to as "fun, weird, easy." As such, cocktail ingredients might include rice wine, avocado oil, Sichuan peppercorns, massive tanks of premixed cocktails for 4 people, or the random sake bomb. Even so, nothing feels gimmicky or forced.


Cocktails range from shooters, frozen slushies, and neon-colored delights to the surprising stirred tipples with diverse regionally sourced spirits. One option is a dark and rich drink called Kyoto, which is smoothness mixed with spice and smoke. Rye whiskey is enhanced with Fernet Branca, amaro, and sansho, (a Japanese spice that is often referred to as a pepper; here we grind peppercorns in a peppermill). The drink offers intricate aromas and tangy flavors.


Makes 1 cocktail

1 tablespoon demerara sugar

1 tablespoon hot water

1½ ounce rye whiskey

½ ounce Fernet Branca

½ ounce Averna amaro

1 teaspoon of demerara syrup

1 dash fresh cracked black pepper

1. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and water. Set aside to cool.

2. In a glass, pour the whiskey, Fernet, amaro, demerara syrup, and pepper. Add ice and stir well until chilled and diluted.


3. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Adapted from Hojoko

Raul Zelaya can be reached at raul.zelaya@outlook.com.