The Tasting Panel magazine

January/February 2015

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1 14  /  the tasting panel  /  january/february 2015 H elming the bar program at two of Los Angeles's most heralded restaurants is no easy feat, but Christiaan Rollich has a simple mantra that mirrors the excellent food: Keep things fresh. "I came in and saw that Suzanne [Goin, restaurateur and Chef] was doing all of these amazing things with market-fresh ingredients, and I thought, Why don't people do that at the bar?" With this inspiration in mind, Rollich has crafted a bar program focused on making as much as possible in-house. "If I need bitters, I make them. If I need coffee liqueur, I make it. It gives me complete control over the flavors and away from all of the chemicals in many products." The result is an innovative and seasonally-driven menu that offers a perfect match to Goin's business partner/Sommelier Caroline Styne's impeccable wine program, but Rollich is quick to point out that, at the end of the day, hospitality is all about giving the guest what they want. "If someone comes in and orders a rum and Coke, I will give it to them. But," he continues, with a wry smile, "I make the cola in house." THE "5" LIST Christiaan Rollich's Top Five Faves Good times! You really go to a bar or restaurant to have a good time. It's my wife and son or my friends that provide that, whether I'm having a killer burrito at Ramona's on Crenshaw or Champagne at Lucques. When bartenders take pride in what they do. For the two minutes they're making my cocktail, nothing else should matter but my drink. Welcoming! I love walking into a Japanese res - taurant and the whole staff stops what they're doing to say "Irasshaimase!" I haven't ordered yet, I'm not even sitting down yet, but I already feel like it's okay to spend my money here. Excellence at the bar and in the kitchen. I love when a good restaurant known for its food doesn't make their bar program an afterthought—or vice versa. Enthusiasm! I love when a barman has the same enthusiasm as I do—when I sit down at a bar and ask about an obscure whiskey or beer they carry, something I'm not familiar with, and he can tell me all about it. Christiaan Rollich's Top Five Pet Peeves Lack of seasonality. It drives me crazy when bar "seasonality" comes out of a purée pack. Just because you buy it at a store does not make it seasonal. Saying something is made from scratch when its not. Whether it's a syrup, liqueur, bitters or soda, many bars take a lot of liberties with that definition. Non-serious barmen. When you make me feel it's a pain to make me a drink. When you look like you'd rather be watching Monday night football. I have a tip for you: Get a different job. Inconsistent cocktails. It is very important that barman number one, two and three all make the cocktails on the menu the same way. Not knowing the menu. It is an essential part of waiting tables or bartending to know the food menu, wine menu, drink menu and spirits menu. 3 4 5 1 2 1 2 3 4 5 Christiaan Rollich Taking Inventory with. . . HEAD BARMAN, A.O.C. WINE BAR AND LUCQUES RESTAURANT, LOS ANGELES Christiaan Rollich is Head Barman at A.O.C. and Lucques in Los Angeles. PHOTO: ADAM JAMES by Rachel Burkons

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