The Clever Root

Spring 2018

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s p r i n g 2 0 1 8 | 5 3 gin, lemon, Cocchi Americano, jasmine pearl green tea, apricot liqueur, yuzu, and sage, as well as new creations like the Ma Cherie with fino sherry, lime, falernum, Green Chartreuse, celery, cucumber, and salt. The cocktail menu has plans to change four times a year, and approving a cocktail to be on the list is as rigorously vetted as new dishes in the kitchen, Robitschek says. "We host weekly research and development meetings in both cities, where our bar team can come to present and work- shop ideas. We ask all in attendance to come with an open mind and to be ready to both give and take constructive criticism." Robitschek and Flint often work together on their menus, trading preparation techniques and seasonal ingredients, and Robischek sources many of his ingredients from the chef-favorite Santa Monica farmer's market. Produce gets a chance to shine in the soft cocktail list, full of tasty and booze-free liba- tions, a surprising addition to the NoMad bar menu. Mocktails like the Peter Piper with pineapple, lime, black pepper, passionfruit and white balsamic vinegar are as inviting as the hard cocktails, a relief from the normal soda/water/coffee options most bars offer for non-drinkers. Robitschek explains, "We've had a non-alcoholic cocktails section on our list for the last nine years at Eleven Madison Park. We wanted to have fun and diverse options for our guests who could not consume alcohol, or for guests that wanted to have a 'cocktail experience' without the added alcohol before they embarked on their multi-course dinner with pairings. It is also a great way to reduce waste by using specialty syrups made for cock- tails before they ferment." Cocktails made with agave-based spirits and stirred drinks made from brown spirits like the Start Me Up with bourbon, Barbados rum, Strega, honey, ginger, lemon, and orange bitters, have been favorites, and the next menu reiteration will see more Los Angeles-tinged cocktails. But the crowd is thirsty for unique experiences of flavor, according to Robitschek. "I've been blown away by our guests' openness and willingness to be adventurous with their drinking habits. Los Angeles has just been so gracious in welcoming us with open arms and adventurous palates." NoMad's Bar Director Leo Robitschek is a veteran of the beverage industry, having helped NoMad in New York win a James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program. RIGHT: The sleek and luxurious Giannini Bar in NoMad's lobby is not your average hotel bar. PHOTO COURTESY OF THE NOMAD TEA TIME With an expansive cocktail menu from Bar Director Leo Robitschek and a carefully- curated wine list from Wine Director Ryan Bailey, any additional beverage program might get lost, but NoMad's Dining Room Manager J.D. Nasaw has carved out a space for a memorable tea menu that holds its own, even alongside the popular boozy offerings. There's the classics, courtesy of In Pursuit of Tea: Earl Gray, Jasmine Pearls, and Assam English Breakfast. Then there's the deep cuts, according to Nasaw: "When we were putting together our list, we also took inspiration from our sister restaurant Eleven Madison Park in seeking out unique teas that many guests in Los Angeles have likely never tasted or have access to. For example, we have a modern Himalayan Black from the Jun Chiyabari garden in Nepal, which has more inherent sweetness and less tannin than the Assam so it's best drunk straight. We have chamomile for those who request it, but I could steer the same guest towards Mt. Olympus, a peppery Greek flower that pairs well with our Milk & Honey dessert." There are also teas from Japan, Africa, and other countries, all served at the mezzanine restaurant in custom gaiwans for table- side infusions, and it's clear that a beverage that's often a post-dinner afterthought has become a star in its own right in the hands of the NoMad team. Adds Nasaw, "Over time, we hope that NoMad becomes a destination for anyone that wants to learn more about tea, and that through its service we can elevate tea to the level of wine and spirits in the world of fine dining." ■cr

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