Bar manager Leo Robitschek
Robitschek also manages the cocktail program at Eleven Madison Park.
Satan's Circus ($15)
Bar manager Leo Robitschek told us the story behind this drink's name: "In the 1850s this area [where The NoMad is located] had a huge collection of saloons, gambling halls, and dance halls. So, in a way, it was the center of fun. It was dubbed Satan's Circus by religious reformers who came in and saw all the debaucherous behavior. For a drink named Satan's Circus, I knew I wanted something easy-drinking with a bright red color and some kick to it. It's pretty boozy but it goes down easy."
The cocktail is made with made with Old Overholt Rye, Thai bird chile-infused Aperol, Cherry Heering, and lemon juice. They use a nitrous-oxide rapid infusion process to spice up the Aperol with the chiles (seeds and all), but the heat in the final cocktail is subtle. "It creeps up on you." says Robitschek.
The Gilsey ($15)
"The Gilsey House is a gorgeous building up on 29th Street, right across from the Ace Hotel, " Robitschek told us. The drink named after it includes orange bitters, a touch of Kirschwasser, Cocchi Americano, pale cream sherry, and a mix of two different gins, Tanqueray and Tanqueray 10.
Why both gins? "It seems a little silly, but when we were making this cocktail, we used Tanqueray and it just wasn't right, and tried Tanqueray 10, and it just wasn't right, so we combined them, and it worked." The glass is sprayed with a bit of of Green Chartreuse to enhance the aroma.
Basil-Fennel Soda ($8)
Teetotalers aren't left out at The NoMad: Soft cocktails are a tradition the NoMad crew carried over from Eleven Madison Park. This one starts with a rapid infusion of basil and fennel, which is mixed with fresh lemon, lime, and club soda for a tart and flavorful booze-free drink.
Is it easier to think up non-alcoholic drinks? "Oh no," says Robitschek, "It's a lot harder. In the beginning it seems fun and easy; we were just sort of playful trying to make a cocktail without booze. But then when you challenge yourself, it's harder. How do you make something that's not your typical variation on a lemonade? We try to hit all the slots, just like a cocktail list: something citrus-based and refreshing, something spicy, something bigger that's dessert-like, something a bit more savory like a soda with fresh tomato water, and something that doesn't have any citrus at all."
This cognac cocktail is named after the year The NoMad hotel building was built. Robitschek wanted to evoke the simplicity of classic early-1900s cocktails, so this silky stirred cocktail uses two spirits, aromatized wine, and bitters. It features Cocchi Vermouth Torino, "which has this amazing sarsaparilla-like quality, so you get some cola and root beer flavors," along with cognac, Laird's bonded apple brandy, and grapefruit bitters.
The Haymarket ($13)
"I started making beer cocktails a few years ago," said Robitschek. "We were hosting the closing party for Craft Beer Week at Eleven Madison Park, and I was enlisted to create beer cocktails. I was nervous to have all these brewmasters in there—I was thinking, 'I really don't want them to see me bastardize their product.' It was really out of my comfort zone. But I ended up making some cocktails that I really enjoyed, and ever since then, there's always been a beer cocktail on the menu at EMP."
The tradition is carried on at The Nomad with the lightly bitter Haymarket, which features Suze, a cinchona-based liqueur that Robitschek describes as "bitter, woody, and delicious", along with cucumber, lime, and a bit of bitter beer (currently they're using Victory Headwaters Pale Ale.) "It's a great spring drink that's a little lower in alcohol."
Clip Joint Cup ($13)
A cup is a long drink that's easy drinking, and usually features ginger and is abundantly garnished with fruit. "They were popular during Prohibition time when you wanted to disguise your drink and make it seem like you were drinking something else," says Robitschek. One common example: the Pimm's Cup.
This cup skips Pimm's, though, in favor of Averna amaro and Punt e Mes, "a sweet vermouth that toys with the bitter side," according to Robitschek, plus housemade ginger-lime cordial, muddled grapefruit peel, muddled cucumber, lime juice, and Fever Tree tonic water, plus an elaborate mint and grapefruit peel garnish.
Southern-Style Mint Julep ($15)
Most people think of the Derby classic when they see Julep on the menu, but this version's a bit different, with Smith & Cross rum, Jean Grosperrin VSOP cognac, and a bit of sugar cane syrup mixed in a mint-rubbed julep cup until frosty, then piled with crushed ice and a bouquet of mint.
Start Me Up ($15)
This cocktail, named after the Rolling Stones song, is inspired by a classic sore throat remedy: a touch of ginger and honey, fresh lemon...plus orange bitters, a little Strega, Scarlet Ibis Rum, and Elijah Craig bourbon. If you like your cocktails gingery and tart, this shaken drink is the one for you.