Although Caroline Styne’s wine program has garnered accolades for A.O.C., the West Hollywood restaurant has no shortage of delicious and unique cocktails thanks to barman Christiaan Rollich. His house-made ingredients—from his own bitters to coffee liqueur—and outside-the-box thinking have earned him the reputation as “one of L.A.’s most innovative mixologists.” His cocktail selection never goes stale, as it’s updated with every season, showcasing unique flavors and ingredients with each debut.
And yet the most popular drink in his program, for years now, is one that he came up with the night before a charity event—and it was originally designed as a mocktail. Adding alcohol to it was an afterthought and a specific request from chef Suzanne Goin. Instead of simply spiking the drink with vodka, Rollich created green tea-infused vodka to enhance the grassy notes and then hit it with absinthe to round out its herbaceousness.
Sitting at the bar during lunchtime, you’ll see tall glasses of vibrant green being made nonstop. It’s become the darling of food magazines and the favorite of daydrinkers, cementing its spot forever on AOC’s cocktail menu. But all told, it’s a fitting cocktail for Los Angeles’ perpetual springlike weather.
As part of a new series, we asked Rollich about the most popular drink at his bar, and why it would be stupid to quit this verdant libation.
How many do you sell a day/week?
“We sell about 1,200 Green Goddesses a month. This goes in fluctuations of up to 75 a day.”
What time of day is it the most popular?
“The nonalcoholic one sells most during the day, alcoholic mostly at night.”
What type of people tend to order it?
“Everybody likes it. Doctors, lawyers, fashionistas, foodies, and so on.”
Do people new to the restaurant order it or are these regulars?
“I think most people who visit AOC are very open to trying things. Just like they heard about the amazing food, they heard about the green drink. LA Magazine gave it mocktail of the year. It has been published by Bon Appetit, LA Times, People, Details, Washington Post, and so on.”
Why do you think it’s the most popular?
“Ha! That’s a good question. Because when we started it with catering five years ago the green drinking craze was just beginnig. There were no pressed bars at Whole Foods, or fresh pressed premade, prebottled stuff. The only juice store was Jamba Juice. And it is just growing and growing. Also one of its charms is that it’s not prebatched. I make two at a time. Fresh cucumber, little spice, little freshness. It’s a great combo of all. I can make it with tequila, I can make it more spicy, less spicy. Also I think it’s very much a Los Angeles drink in a way. The customer feels good, green tea, arugula, cucumber, citrus, and you are being a bit naughty. It just depends how naughty they want to be.”
You sell a mocktail and cocktail versions, which do you sell the most of?
“The mocktail has a slight edge of 100 or so more a month.”