As The NoMad Hotel gears up to open its much-anticipated roof space next Monday, the hotel's beverage director Leo Robitschek sat down with us to discuss his favorite concoctions from the impressive menu, hangover cures, and his take on Bloomberg's controversial soda ban proposal.
Like the hotel's chef and managing partner Daniel Humm and Will Guidara, Robitschek is an alumni of Eleven Madison Park and he oversees the grand bar and the hotel's library area.
Robitschek also gave us a tour of the gorgeous roof (photos below) and its historic cupola, which has been redesigned as a private dining room.
When's the last time you were really hungover?
Hungover? Probably this morning! It was one of my coworkers from Eleven Madison Park's engagement party. I was recipe testing here all day and then went straight to the party. So I was definitely a bit sluggish today.
How do you cure a hangover?
I'm sort of a dork. I eat a banana, take an Emergen-C, and head to the gym. Also, green juice is fantastic. I have one every morning. Kale, parsley, spinach, all that. You feel like a million bucks after.
What do you think of Bloomberg's plan to ban large soda drinks?
It's difficult to pass an opinion. In one way, there are already a ton of taxes on sodas and I definitely support more education, rather than limitation. But I also think that he's trying to do something really radical and extreme right now because we live in a society that's so used to super sizing everything. Realistically I can't drink 32 oz of soda; I have trouble drinking 32 oz of water in a day. Even if the proposal doesn't pass, I think it's a great thing the discussion is even present.
The NoMad is known for drawing inspiration from the neighborhood. Can you describe the area's impact on the drink menu?:
When we started doing the project, we discovered this great history to the neighborhood. It was just debauchery all over here from dance halls and saloons. But adding to that chaos was a ton of prominent people who used to live in the neighborhood like Jenny Jerome, the mother of Winston Churchill. We really drew from that mix of debauchery and affluence with the menu. So a lot of our cocktails names are named after popular venues at the time. For example, The Haymarket was actually the most notorious dance hall saloon and one of our most popular cocktails.
What are your favorite cocktails from the menu?
Under the Aperitives, I love the Haymarket because it's very refreshing and uses Suze, which is mainly found in Europe. For the Light-Spirited, one of our bestselling drinks and one of my favorites is the Hot Lips which was created by one of my head bartenders Jess Gonzalez. I also really like the Bohemia. From the Dark-Spirited, Satan's Circus because it's a really easy drinking drink with a bit of spice but it packs a punch and it's a cool, blood red. Then there's one that's a little more off the wall called the Old Alhambra. That almost tastes, in the best way possible, like beef jerky but choclatey, delicious, and meaty. Someone actually told me the other day that it tastes like biting into a man. (To see Robitschek create all five, see below)
Where else in the neighborhood do you go to drink?
We get out of here pretty late, but if we get out in time we usually go to Shorty's. It's a Philly cheesetake place that's open till 4 in the morning between 28th and Madison. They do a special at night where for $12 you get a cheesesteak and beer combination.
Favorite cocktail bars in the city:
I love the folks at Death+Company and Little Branch. The folks there are very talented and the hospitality is great. There's also this awesome place called The Beagle in the East Village, which is very neighborhoody and eclectic. I had heard of it awhile ago, but had never been able to go. I finally went two weeks ago and have already been back four times. They're doing a great job and have some of the best cocktails in the city. I never really make it to Brooklyn, but when I do, I love Whiskey Brooklyn in Williamsburg.
See Robitschek make his favorite cocktails from The NoMad:
Check out photos of the hotel's exclusive roof space opening on Monday below: