A Taste of The NoMad Bar, a Casual Spot for $198 Cocktails
Photos by Zachary Feldman
This past Saturday, Will Guidara and Daniel Humm opened their upscale take on a tavern, The NoMad Bar (10 West 28th Street, 212-796-1500). The handsome bi-level space has a kindred spirit in the restaurant's Elephant Bar, where beverage director Leo Robitschek and his team have garnered numerous accolades, among them World's Best Hotel Bar at Tales of the Cocktail 2013 and Outstanding Bar Program at this year's James Beard Foundation Awards. In addition to an expanded cocktail menu, including "cocktail explosions" (we'll get to those later) and premium spirit reserve cocktails, Humm and NoMad sous chef Ashley Abodeely have devised a menu of small plates, bar bites, and elevated pub fare separate from what's available next door to complement the drinks.
The bar's accessible from West 28th Street or from within the hotel through The Library Bar, and using either entrance gives you an immediate eyeful of the arched centerpiece bar that commands the entire room with a backlit glow. Plush dark leather booths and banquettes fill out the downstairs room, which is dressed in white tile floors and dark wood, while the upstairs balcony is a sea of tables for two. We didn't spot any fancy NoMad drink cards, but the coasters are outfitted with games like hangman.
Those familiar with Robitschek's drinks will be happy to see that the bulk of the cocktail list is the same as at Elephant Bar, broken up into categories of classic cocktails, soft cocktails, aperitifs, and light and dark spirited drinks. New here, however, are those cocktail explosions. The NoMad's Head of Bar Education Chris Lowder explains that the $90 large format drinks are served "in a gorgeous Art Deco crystal decanter." Recommended for groups of six to eight, Lowder loves the punch presentations for their "layers of fruit and mint garnish that can be seen through the sides of the glass vessel." Rather than dipping a ladle into a punch bowl, the decanters feature a spigot for guests to dole drinks out into pre-garnished glasses.
Reserve cocktails are also a NoMad Bar specialty. Ranging from $28 to $198, they feature rare and premium spirits, including a $60 Jack Rose made with 1965 Michele Giard Calvados and Laird's 12yr apple brandy, and a Vieux Carre featuring 50 year cognac and Thomas M. Handy Sazerac straight rye whiskey that fetches $198. "I'm not saying that a $198 cocktail is right for everyone," admits Lowder, but the section was developed in response to queries from high-rolling guests. Rather than waste such expensive hooch on making something bespoke to varying results, the team invested a great deal of money into perfecting the high-end tipples during menu creation. He adds, "Now we don't have to experiment on guests."