There's No Place Like NoMad

June 9, 2012

Drinking in NoMad

A bartender serving up New York cocktails in NoMad New York

NoMad has always been one of the best neighborhoods when drinking in New York.

As Robert Simonson of the New York Sun points out:  At the turn of the 19th/20th Centuries, “this was where the action was — socially, theatrically, politically and alcoholically.”

The History of NoMad and Mixology:

The elegance of Madison Square Park and Fifth Avenue contained the finest homes, hotels, restaurants, and theatres in New York, but where the NoMad Hotel (which features some of the best New York cocktails) sits today the grand life butted up against The Tenderloin where saloons serving rye and beer, houses of prostitution, gambling halls and the grittier side of New York flourished.

In the more refined quarters, classic American cocktails were debuting, and getting their own local twist, resulting in uniquely New York cocktails.

At the then state-of-the-art Fifth Avenue Hotel, 23rd and Fifth, a Republican machine haunt, the Rob Roy was being invented.

On 26th and Fifth, the bartender of the world-famous Hoffman House bar, a Democratic machine lair, was mixing up the first Hoffman House Cocktail and Hoffman House Fizz.

Delmonico’s—running from Fifth to Broadway on 26th— was introducing the Delmonico’s No. 1.

On the east side of the park at 26th and Madison, stood the Jerome Mansion, used as the Manhattan Club, where many believe the Manhattan cocktail was created and served for the first time in the 1870s at a banquet honoring presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden.  The banquet was hosted by Jennie Jerome, Lady Randolph Churchill, who was to be the mother of Winston Churchill.

A little further up the avenue, George Kappeler, head bartender at Holland House, Fifth Avenue and 30th Street, was introducing the Widow’s Kiss to the world, which bring us back to now.

A hundred year’s later and less than three blocks from where it was first created, The NoMad Bar is re-introducing the Widow’s Kiss, a concoction of Apple brandy, Benedictine and Yellow Chartreuse.

They are also offering nearly 30 new creations of their own, mixing the grand cocktails of Fifth and Madison Square Park with the scotch and rye of The Tenderloin.

Great Cocktails From The NoMad Bar:


Star and Garter

Cardamon-infused Chambery Blanc Vermouth, Chambray Dry Vermouth, Champagne


Geanever Gin, Chambrey Blanc Vermouth, Aquavit, Maraschino Liqueur


Aquavit, Miletti Amaro, Marseilles Dry Vermouth, Maraschino Liqueur, Angostura Bitters

Old Alhambra

Slay Scotch, Chambery Blanc Vermouth East India Solera Sherry, Crème de Cacao

All these drinks are named after popular saloons of the late 1800s.

Clip Joint Cup

Punt e Mes, Averna, Ginger, Lime, Tonic, Cucumber

The Clip Joint Cup is named after a type of club found in the area mid- to late-19th Century. Into such clubs, women would lure men off the streets with promises of fun, make them buy bad drinks and food, and then excuse themselves. A bouncer would arrive and present a hefty check.

The Gilsey

London Dry Gin, Pale Cream Sherry, Kirshwasser, Cocchi, Americano, Green Chartreuse, Orange Bitters

This drink is named after the Gilsey House, one of the most beautiful buildings in the Nomad District. Starting life as a hotel at the turn of the century, it was frequented by well-known figures of the day such as Diamond Jim Brady, Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde.

Tin Pan Alley

Venezuelan Rum, Five-Islands Rum, Cardamaro, St. George Absinthe, Sugar Cane, Lime

This cocktail is named after the street the NoMad Hotel is on — 28th Street from Fifth to Sixth Avenue was know as Tin Pan Alley at the end of the 19th Century and the early decades of the 20th. These blocks were traversed by America’s most popular songwriters from Cohen and Joplin to Berlin and Porter pitching songs such as “Give My Regards to Broadway,” “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” and “God Bless America.”

Satan’s Circus

Rye Whiskey, Thai Bird Chili-infused Aperol, Cherry Herring, Lemon

The Gentleman’s Directory published in 1870 listed 150 houses of prostitution, 49 of which were centered around Sixth Avenue along 26th, 27th and 28th Streets, a stone’s throw from the NoMad Hotel. This grouping of houses of prostitution along with the gambling halls and saloons around them, was referred to by religious reformers as “Satan’s Circus.”

The Haymarket

Suze, Cucumber, Lime, Pale Ale

The Haymarket is named after the most notorious salon and dance hall in The Tenderloin at the turn of the 19th/20th Centuries. It stood on 30th Street between Broadway and Sixth, two blocks from the present day NoMad Hotel.

Lady Johnston

Guatamalen Gin, Chambery Dry Vermouth, Aquavit, Maraschino Liqueur

This cocktail is named after Caroline H. Johnston, a German lawyer, who built the Nomad Hotel building with Frederick A. Constable of 9E 83rd Street, New York. Originally know as the Johnston Building it served originally as a commercial office building.