Friends With Benefits: Leo Robitschek
Family and food was a big part of Leo Robitschek’s childhood. “Being a Latin and Jewish family, food has always been a big part of our lives,” he says. “Part of the rule for us was we always had to be home for dinner.”
But when Robitschek—managing partner of food and beverage for the new NoMad Las Vegas—grew up, it didn’t necessarily dictate his career path, at first. By 2001, he was living in New York, completing his prerequisites for medical school while bartending on the side. He began to develop a love for creating cocktails. A couple of years later, he joined restaurateur Will Guidara and chef Daniel Humm’s trendy Eleven Madison Park as a bartender, and a year after that, they asked him to elevate the bar program at EMP. He said yes and has never looked back. Since the success of EMP, they’ve opened swank NoMad Hotels in New York, L.A., and now Las Vegas, each with an incredible bar program that uses fresh, quality ingredients—just as the hotels’ restaurants do.
“I never thought that hospitality was a career trajectory,” Robitschek says. “… I guess I never really realized how much I loved food and cocktails and people. This helped me fulfill all those things that I wanted to do with medicine in a way—engage with people, help them, see their reaction. Hospitality was a way I got to do it, just through a very different lens.”
Creating the Vegas NoMad’s restaurant and bar spaces and cocktail programs has been a labor of love for Robitschek. “We really wanted to create an oasis from an oasis—a place that is accessible and you could indulge in great food, great cocktails and have fun.”
When creating the cocktail menus for both NoMad’s restaurant and bar, Robitschek combined classic cocktails with longtime favorites pulled from the menus of other NoMad properties. He also created some new, Vegas-specific cocktails. “For the NoMad Bar, I created about nine new cocktails, and the restaurant bar, six to seven,” he says. “They’re accessible but indulgent, and the menu will develop as we get more familiar with Vegas.” The Runyon Canyon was pulled from L.A.’s NoMad cocktail menu and is a playful combination of vodka cranberry with a tiki twist—mixed with Absolut Elyx, Vermouth di Torino, cranberries, passion fruit and lime.
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