X-Factor: Barman Christiaan Rollich of A.O.C. (#1)

The mix master behind the restaurant that topped our “75 Best Restaurants” list

For our May issue (on newsstands now!), we rallied our appetites to come up with our list of “The 75 Best Restaurants in L.A.” What were those extra little somethings that helped each spot rise above the rest? Here, we showcase the X-Factors.

It’s unsurprising that A.O.C. snagged Los Angeles Magazine’s number-one slot on the list of the best restaurants in L.A. There’s so much it does well and so much to love about it. That amazing happy hour, those wood oven-baked eggs from brunch, and oh my gawd that cheese plate! But the one thing there that gets me absolutely weak in the knees is head barman Christiaan Rollich (read my Q&A with him here) And, no, not because he’s a good-looking guy. (He is.) It’s because he’s so innately talented.

Am I gushing too much? It’s hard not to admire a bartender who makes all of his own cocktail ingredients, from the bitters to the coffee liqueur to the bathtub gin. Creating everything himself also allows him the freedom to play with flavors and create new ones like with his sage beer syrup and sassafras leaves tincture. And then? He effortlessly weaves those ingredients together in cocktails that stand up to chef Suzanne Goin’s James Beard award-winning cuisine. Every Sunday at Lucques Christiaan creates cocktails to pair with Goin’s three-course dinners. Or you can enjoy them on their own at the bar where you get to watch him work his magic. Extra bonus points that he makes one of the best White Russians I’ve ever had.

To see the full list of the 75 best restaurants in L.A., pick up a copy of our May issue (on newsstands) or subscribe now!