Fancy Cocktails & Conversation with Xavier Herit
Xavier Herit creates unique & shiny cocktails that are almost too pretty to drink.
As the Beverage Manager at The NoMo SoHo, this adorable Frenchie is wow-ing his customers by using enticing ingredients like bergamot, sage, and even greek yogurt to create enveloping flavors in his cocktails. Upon first sip, your taste buds might need a minute to catch up to the party. But once they do...
Each note of liquor, citrus, spice, and even a little fat comes through in each delightful sip. From beautiful punch bowls to crafty takes on the traditional mint julep, this seasoned mixologist isn't afraid to take risks in order to stand out from the pack.
A FEW QUESTIONS WITH XAVIER HERIT. BUT IF YOU'D RATHER WATCH A VIDEO PLEASE SEE BELOW.
What is your favorite cocktail to make?
It depends on the season - if it's a cool winter or a warm summer. I like tiki drinks. Probably something with rum. There's nothing better than a good Mai Tai or Daiquiri. In wintertime, something more stirred like a Manhattan or I'd be the happiest guy with a beer and shot.
What's the hardest ingredient to work with behind the bar?
To be honest vodka is more challenging for me to create cocktails. It's much more of a neutral flavor than rum or tequila. You have to push a bit more of your sense of creativity - vodka a great ingredient don't get me wrong - but it's a bit more challenging to use in a cocktail I think. Honestly I'd just do vodka, strawberry, and lime but it's too simple for what we do now. You need to push yourself. I think the way I go with vodka is to infuse it with different flavors, spices, or teas to bring flavor to the vodka.
Favorite bar in NYC?
There are many many good cocktail bars in NYC. It's really hard to keep up. I don't go out as much as I'd like to but I try to go out and do a bit of bar crawling to check out what's going on. I just go back to the same ones! Mace is definitely one of my favorites - on the top of the list. It's 2 years old. They are trendy. They aren't pretentious. You can have a beer or a shot or a great cocktail. It's a cozy place. I'm very happy with that.
Do you remember how old you were when you first started drinking?
My first drink, well, I'm French. My parents are very big foodies - my family is very into this foodie culture and the art of the table. Eating many courses and having many bottles of wine. So probably at around 11 years old, my father started to give me a little bit of wine with water. To just give me a taste to teach me how to drink wine. I wouldn't do it now but back then to get familiar. I always loved the color. Then I think I started to drink more wine around 13 or 14 years old. One of my uncles is winemaker in Bordeaux, he has a small chateaux. When I was a kid, I was there in the summer, to go to all of the wineries. Wine was my first contact with alcohol.
What do you like best about working at the nomo soho?
I think it's a beautiful location which is in the center of Manhattan. We've got one of the most beautiful restaurants, because I can't think of any restaurant like the Nomo Kitchen. It's inside a giant glass rooftop. It's bright all year round. It can be cold, it can be summer, it's always bright. Brunch is very very busy, which is great. At night time it's the sexiest room, with the chandeliers and it's very dark. It's a very pleasant space to work with because there's so much potential. It's also the highest tower in SoHo with 25 floors. Go to the Penthouse and you can see Manhattan in 360°. There's not may places you can do that because of all of the high-rises. I'm looking forward to expanding the cocktail program and bringing more creations here.
Tell me about your spring cocktail menu!
We are going to work with tamarind liqueur which is new to the market, which is pretty cool. It'll probably be with an orange marmalade that we have here. We use a very good jam here - some of the best jam I've ever had. So we will use orange marmalade, gin (Citadelle), lemon juice, tamarind liqueur with a bit of sparkling wine. We are still working with measurements but it'll be more like spring time drinks. More berries. More crushed ice. More clear liqueur. I want to incorporate more French spirits. They're sort of left on the side. Maybe work with cognac as well. I'd like to bring more stuff visually to the drinks.
Favorite go-to food spot?
Actually there's a place just a few blocks away from here. I like to go to Despana a tapas place, they do this amazing sandwich. Sometimes I just want to take a 5-minute break outside of the hotel. I just go there, get a sandwich, and I am the happiest man. Definitely for a grab-and-go that would be the place.
Got any crazy subway stories?
Well, not sure if it's crazy but I love the new subway. I live on the UES on 97th street and I just take the new subway at 96th and it's the most pleasant ride I've had in a long time. It's nice and clean and there is nobody. So I love it!