We Tried the Swanky New José Andrés Bar on the Roof of the Ritz-Carlton NoMad
Fifty floors up, Nubeluz offers a cloud bar, cloud cocktails and cloud adjacency
Opened at the end of July at the corner of Broadway and 28th street, The Ritz-Carlton New York, NoMad sits firmly on the list of most-buzzed-about NYC hotel openings. But in the short three months since it debuted, the 50-story building, purpose-built from the ground up to house the hotel’s 219 guestrooms, 31 suites and a subterranean spa, is emerging as more than just a place to spend a few nights. It is, thanks to its partnership with the renowned Michelin-starred chef José Andrés, on its way to becoming a dining and drinking destination.
The hotel’s entire culinary program, helmed by Andrés and his team, will soon include a total of three primary offerings. Zaytinya, a bright, lively, and in-demand restaurant on the ground floor serving small Turkish, Greek and Lebanese-inspired plates, opened with the hotel in July, and another highly anticipated Andrés concept is coming this winter (more on that below). But perhaps most compelling is the recently opened Nubeluz, a cocktail bar on the Ritz’s top floor.
A mash-up of the Spanish words for “cloud” (nube) and “light” (luz), Nubeluz promises incredible views of the city and a unique take on cocktails from José Andrés himself. I recently visited the bar two nights in a row while staying at the hotel to work my way through the menu and see for myself if it’s worth a trip to the 50th floor.
The View From 500 Feet
To reach Nubeluz you’ll check in with a host on the lobby level (reservations are highly encouraged) who will walk you to an elevator and send you up. Once on the 50th floor, your ears popping on the ascent that takes mere seconds, you’ll arrive at the bar’s lobby and check in with another host. It’s here you’ll get your first peek at the view which sparks a Pavlovian response to reach for your phone and open your camera. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to capture the moment — it’s not every day you’re faced with a cityscape like this (unless you live in one of the 16 Ritz penthouses on the floors directly below).
From here, you’ll be ushered through the door and to your seat, with options including various large, plush booths tucked against the back wall and others closer to the windows. While the look of these booths seems to imply bottle service, which is currently on offer, the vibe here still suggests sipping on a cocktail versus an entire bottle of Grey Goose. This, however, could quickly change as the bar grows in popularity and if rumblings of occasional future DJ sets prove true.
Back to the view. At 500 feet above the ground, and with the building itself positioned in the middle of Manhattan island, Nubeluz offers unobstructed views of everything south of 28th Street, from the Flatiron Building a few blocks away to the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. It’s the type of view that tourists pay good money to see. For views in other directions, and for a little fresh air, step onto one of the bar’s two outdoor spaces — a small eastern terrace with a gobsmacking view of the Empire State Building and the larger western terrace with views into Time Square and towards Hudson Yards. Fair warning, neither are for those afraid of heights.
Floating on a Cloud
Skyline photos taken, you’ll now notice what’s inside Nubeluz is just as Insta-worthy as what’s outside. With an emphasis on jewel tones, metallic surfaces and mood lighting, the interiors serve up a Roaring Twenties, art deco atmosphere with no hint of kitsch. Adequately describing the space, however, is a job best left to AD100 interior architect and man behind the design, Martin Brudnizki.
“This is a bar where we wanted guests to feel glamorous and carefree; it is a destination in its own right and so it needed to feel differentiated from the wider hotel whilst still feeling cohesive with the hotel brand,” Brudnizki told me. He went on to say that the aim for Nubeluz was to create “a star in the New York sky,” and a bar that both “harks back to the iconic hotel bars of Manhattan whilst feeling current for today’s metropolitan audience” and “endures time and becomes a modern classic.”
While the luxe environment is impressive as a whole, it’s the U-shaped onyx bar, which glows a warm golden hue, that steals the show. This is where I happily sat during both of my visits, able to watch the bartenders work their magic and keep an eye on the twinkling city lights. Of the bar itself, Brudnizki pulled from the sky-high location as inspiration, telling me, “The building’s architecture and unrivaled views of the sky informed how we designed the bar, which we decided early on would be large, central and illuminated from within, to create the appearance of floating on a cloud.” And while it’s unquestionably the kind of bar where you’ll feel enticed to order a classic, like a martini or Manhattan, it’d be a crime to forego a gander at Nubeluz’s cocktail menu.
Cocktails Worth the Ascent
I tried four cocktails over the course of my two visits, the prices of which range from $20 to $26 (pricey but not crazy given this is NYC and you are at the top of the Ritz). Chatting with one of the bartenders, I asked which two cocktails have emerged as bestsellers so far and decided to start there. What I got was a “bold interpretation of a Moscow mule,” called The Apollo # 3 (Grey Goose La Poire vodka, blanc vermouth, St-Germain, lemon, ginger, club soda) and the Salt Air Margarita (Milagro blanco tequila, Combier orange, lime, salt air) described to me as “an imaginative take on a classic, topped with an airy cloud of salt.” If you’re wondering where they came up with that concoction, a recent Nubeluz Instagram post says that José Andrés “dreamed up this signature cocktail while at the beach watching the waves hit the rocks and sand, developing a beautiful foam.”
Moving into more unfamiliar territory, I tried their next most popular cocktail, the Foggy Hill (Del Maguey Vida mezcal, Yzaguirre 1884 Gran Reserva vermouth, Cynar, Aperol, orange-thyme aromatic cloud). Served from a beaker-style vessel dramatically overflowing with dry ice smoke, the theatrics of this creation always prompt a few “I’ll have that too” reactions from those within eyeshot. Next and last, I ordered the Polka Dotted Coleman (Old Duff Genever, sweet vermouth, fernet, amontillado, sesame) which is finished with one drop of sesame oil, giving it a nutty taste. While the latter wasn’t a home run for me, I’d absolutely return for the Foggy Hill whose substance lived up to its show.
And for those seeking a booze-free night, you’ll be glad to know the Nebuluz menu leads off with a section of spirit-free options. More than just creative juice blends, “they are a series of drinks that can compete against any other drink on the Nubeluz menu, and we purposefully led the menu with this category to show our pride in the drinks,” Daniel Grajewski, senior director of wine and beverage for the José Andrés Group, told me. I tried two of the zero-proof offerings, the Squaring the Circle and the Niño Melón, and much preferred the latter which actually tasted like biting into a fresh melon.
Caviar in a Cone? Why Not.
Don’t expect to fill up on food here as the menu is comprised exclusively of small, light bites. What is available, however, is memorable and playful with standout offerings like the Labneh with José’s Potato Chips (crisp chips topped with salmon roe, za’atar, avgotaraho, lemon zest and fresh herbs) for $18, and the Labneh Cone (a two-bite snack filled with the thick yogurt and topped with caviar) for $25. My advice? You’re here, being fancy, so you might as well splurge on a little caviar. Also a must-try for anyone with a sweet tooth are the Sweet Cones, specifically the dulce de leche with Luxardo cherry center
In my view, Nubeluz is ideally suited for date nights, special occasions and for impressing visiting friends and family with a high-end NYC experience. And while the rooftop bar itself is worth the trip to NoMad, pairing your visit with dinner at Zaytinya on the ground floor makes it even more worth it (plan to catch the sunset at Nubeluz before dinner or head up for an after-dinner drink to view the city at night). If the menu at Zaytinya isn’t for you, then pay Nubeluz a visit when José Andrés opens an outpost of his highly acclaimed restaurant, The Bazaar, on the second floor of The Ritz Carlton, NoMad later this year.
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