EMP and NoMad Beverage Director Leo Robitschek Wants You to Drink More Aperitif Wine
In this interview, Eleven Madison Park and NoMad beverage director Leo Robitschek discusses what the term "classic cocktail" means to him, the shots he serves patrons if given the choice, and the spirit we should all be drinking right this second.
Leo Robitschek at The NoMad
What is your background, and how did you enter the hospitality industry?
I worked in hospitality throughout college but never took it seriously. It was during what I call my quarter life crisis when I returned to hospitality. I left the finance world and decided to return to school in hopes of becoming a doctor, and I started bartending at nights.
What was it about the beverage industry that piqued your curiosity?
In my first hospitality job in NYC, they made us take mandatory beverage classes that were taught in house. This opened my eyes to spirits and cocktails. I started reading old cocktail books and fell in love with the history.
What drink will always be on your cocktail lists (in some form)?
All of our cocktail lists change seasonally. There isn't one particular drink that will always be on a list, but there are categories and styles of drinks that will always be featured. We will always have variations on sours, tiki-style cocktails, classic martinis -- Manhattans and such. We do these variations within most types of spirit categories. For instance, we have a refreshing sour drink with gin, one with rum, one with tequila, one with bourbon, and one with apple brandy.
Visitors and locals alike make it a point to try your cocktails. What do you hope to offer them with your creations?
I try to create cocktails that are balanced and delicious, but also tell a story. When creating a list, we try to have most cocktails evoke seasonality. I love when a cocktail allows you to escape to a specific place and time through its flavors and ingredients.