By Terry Trucco
Libraries and libations go together like gin and tonic. Or perhaps we should say like Islay scotch, Chambery Blanc vermouth, South India Solera sherry and crème de cacao, the makings of the Old Alhambra cocktail we had in the Library lounge and bar at the new NoMad Hotel.
The NoMad’s is one of the most exquisite hotel libraries we’ve ever seen – and we make a point of seeking out hotel libraries. Polished wood shelves, an oriental rug warming the hardwood floor, a sleek curved library stair leading to the second floor of books, strong WiFi – it’s the prototypical private library reimagined for 21st-century tastes.
The content is as dazzling as the setting. Sidestepping the prevailing trend of outfitting a hotel library with books from one publisher – or color-coding a random selection of bulk-purchased hardcover books – the NoMad’s wood-paneled room looks like the lair of a voracious bibliophile with wide-ranging tastes.
If Alfred Hitchcock was redoing North by Northwest, he might set the library scene, where a
pair of murderous traitors force-feed bourbon to Cary Grant, in a room like this.
Books are arranged according to subject, and choices are amusing. Cookbooks,
eating up the wall behind a pair of curved arm chairs, each with just one arm, range from The Martha Stewart CookBook to Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky. A dishy, unauthorized biography of Nelson Rockefeller occupies a shelf with Robert Caro-esque political biographies and histories in a different area.
We could while away hours here, but looks aside, the Library is a lounge serving morning breakfast breads, afternoon tea pastries and drinks after 5. Your chances of perusing the stacks or curling up with a laptop and hanging out, as at the nearby Ace, are slim.
We stopped by for drinks in early evening. As befit the setting, the black-leather-bound drinks menu provided ample reading material – a page of snacks and nine pages of cocktails, wines and beers as carefully curated as the books.
Though not Dewey-decimalized, drinks, concocted by ace mixologist Leo Robitschek of Eleven Madison, are categorized – classics, light spirited, dark spirited, apertifs, alchohol free, glasses of red, glasses of white, rose’ on tap, you get the idea. There’s even a Bartender’s Choice promising to “tailor a cocktail to your tastes.”
We loved the titles – Start Me Up, Crooked Kilt, Paris is Burning, Hot Lips. We definitely didn’t choose Old Alhambra ($15) for its name, but it was a winner, smooth and peaty, thanks to the Islay scotch.
Our companion opted for the house brown ale, Brooklyn Brewery’s Nomad Le Poulet on draught ($8), brewed specially for the hotel. He liked it, pronouncing it rich with a touch of bitter. A large man in the group at the next table liked it, too. He was on his third when we left.
The NoMad Hotel, 1170 Broadway and 28th Street; 212 796-1500.