Bobo’s Adam Rothstein Talks Garden-to-Glass Cocktails and Other Potable Goodies (PB&J and a Bourbon, Anyone?)


Forget farm-to-table. The hardcore among us have already moved on to garden-to-glass. Bobo has been doing ultra-locavoric drinks since before the term was coined, sneaking fresh herbs from its garden into cocktails for extra zip and vim. Beverage director Adam Rothstein reveals a few more secrets from behind the bar, including the best pairing you’ve (likely) never had.

Describe the cocktail program at Bobo?

It’s an 18-cocktail program, split up into three different sections. The first is seasonal, which will be as farm-to-bar as possible. We make all of our own purees in-house. Then, we have something called the Bobo Classics, which basically are non-seasonally-reliant cocktails that we’ve had on our list in the past that were really well received. We also have the traditional classics.

Is the patio up and running?

Yes, we have a beautiful garden in the back of the restaurant. I’d say it’s the best place to have a drink in the city. It’s beautiful, open air, and on the second floor, so it’s a little bit removed from street noise. We grow a lot of fresh herbs on the patio that we use in our cocktails and our food, as well. I grew up with a beautiful garden in our backyard on Long Island. That’s always been the definition of what freshness is for me.

What are some of your favorite ingredients of the moment?

We do a drink called the Zirbenz Negroni. We use Zirbenz, which is an awesome stone-pine liqueur from the Alps. It has a beautiful reddish hue to it and a nice woodsy, lightly aromatic quality, which is cool with gin and Aperol. Green Chartreuse has always been one of my favorites. We do a drink called the Chartreuse Mash. It’s all about bringing lesser-known ingredients to the forefront in a non-pretentious manner.

You also do the wine list. Are we going to see a lot of rosé again this summer?

I’m a rosé fanatic. I always have been. Pinot Noir is my favorite domestic rosé. I love it. It means summer’s here. Rosé is definitely a part of our happy hour, as well. We have $1 oysters, which go great with a glass of rosé.

With the ways craft beers are exploding these days, do sommeliers have to know their beers now, too?

I love beer and it’s one of the first things I learned in this industry. It’s not a major part of our program … but it’s what I drink when I go out. Beer and shots. We’re lucky enough to live in an amazing beer market right now. Sixpoint and Greenport Harbor and Brooklyn Brewery, Kelso … the local beer movement, especially in New York, which was once the oldest and biggest beer producer in the country, is really exciting.

What is your go-to beer and shot?

My personal favorite is a shot of Powers [Irish whiskey] and a Guinness. It’s always been my thing, if you will. I like to keep it simple.

Is there anywhere you draw the line as to what goes into a cocktail?

We draw the line, but where no one else is drawing it. We just put a brunch cocktail on the menu called the Raj, which is carrot-juice-based so it’s bright orange. It has a little bit of cardamom, gin, and ginger beer. We accidentally made a healthy cocktail. Brunch is the most fun part of our cocktail program. Other than that, I have a hard time finding a cocktail I want onions in, other than the Gibson. And I have not put ramps in a drink yet.

What’s the biggest pairing myth that you come up against?

I really don’t understand anyone who wants red wine and cheese. To me, beer and cheese has always made more sense. I’m all about letting food speak for itself. I think a pairing should be about the food first and not the booze. Pairings have always been a difficult thing, but at the end of the day, I think the best pairing in the world is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a bourbon on the rocks. I will defend that until the day I die.

Who’s more fun, wine people or cocktail people?

I’m pleading the Fifth. I get to do both. There’s no way I’m weighing in on that one.