Spiegelworld speaks to Niko Novick, Executive of Beverage at THE HOOK, the brand new Spiegelworld venue, show and Superfrico restaurant, opening at Caesars Atlantic City in June 2023.
Niko, always a pleasure to see you. What has been your journey up until this point?
I’ve been in the bar industry for about 15 years. I started with the goal of working at the best places in the world, and little by little, I got those opportunities to work with many amazing people. I worked a lot and became trusted by people that mentored me in consulting for different bars and bar openings.
One day my friend Leo Robitschek (James Beard award-winning mixologist) called me and said he needed help opening Superfrico, a new restaurant concept for Spiegelworld in Las Vegas. Of course, I said yes, and what was supposed to be a month-long project turned into three months, and here we are more than a year later. Now I’m the Executive of Beverage for all of Spiegelworld.
Is that your official title?
Unofficially I also go by Cocktail Clown.
Before Spiegelworld, what have been the coolest bars you’ve worked at?
One of my favorites was Old Lightning, a pseudo-speakeasy in Venice. It was an intimate room that only sat about 20 people and boasted one of the rarest spirit collections in the world (in fact was nominated for World Best Spirit Selections at Tales of the Cocktail in 2015). Because it was a passion project of the owners, they had been collecting the best spirits for over 10 years. From the first ever bottle of Patron to Rye Whiskeys from 1914, their collection was vast and worth millions of dollars. That’s where I really cut my teeth in learning about alcohol and spirits and the history, plus meeting all the people that make these whiskeys. It was quite a learning curve.
How would you describe the cocktail menu vibe at Superfrico?
Superfrico is a house party; it’s Spiegelworld’s house party. That’s where we express everything that we love and make it fun. It’s not about a specific cocktail or menu item; it’s the culmination of everything we are passionate about.
We subscribe to the idea of no fuss. If you sit at the bar, we’re not telling you how complicated your cocktail is or how long it takes to make. You’re going to get your delicious cocktail pretty quickly.
Everything we do has meaning, flavors, and aesthetics. Right now, we’re sitting in the Ski Lodge at Superfrico Las Vegas, and literally, every silly snowfield sticker on the wall has a reason behind it. Spiegelworld is very big on the why, which is what sold me on taking the job. It’s not just blind aesthetics; it’s the passion behind every detail.
What is your favorite drink from the Superfrico Las Vegas menu?
That’s a tough question. I’m a big fan of milk punches in general, their style, and what it does to a cocktail. However, I am a basic bitch, and love espresso martinis. I’m a sucker for that, and our High Wire Espresso Martini is amazing.
Is that where the Bottle-O take-home cocktail flask program started?
The Bottle-O program was a team effort; the idea existed before I came on board. Leo and I hashed everything out together to develop cocktails with a high range of flavors to encompass the full spectrum of drink preferences. So we have the Pump & Grind Negroni for people who like Amaro. Kicko de Mule for agave lovers. High Wire Espresso Martini for, well, you know. Our Poolboy which is a play on a Pornstar Martini made with tequila, which is all the rage right now. Pier 17 for those who love Manhattans and old-fashioned cocktails. And finally, The Golden Tooth, which is a scotch mule variation.
Can you tell us what inspired you to become a beverage creative?
I didn’t have a choice because of my natural love for creating. Before beverage, I was an artist in a lot of different forms. I spent time doing photography work, acting, and painting. Being creative is everything for me. I am not the type to sit in a cubicle all day and live for Friday because that’s not a good way to live.
What are some of your inspirations behind the cocktail menu for THE HOOK in Atlantic City?
Sex and cigarettes and cash, ha ha!
THE HOOK venue will have more than just the show and the Superfrico restaurant. We have our boardwalk bar, which will be called Cheval du Plongée, which is French for ‘divinghorse’. We also have Horse Dive Bar that will have a whole other aestheticthat embodies a carnival with the cool rock and roll attitude of 1969. The menu will be a tribute to the Diving Horses of Atlantic City and will be serving things like Popcorn Espresso Martinis and Michelada Froses.
We’re going to be pushing some boundaries at THE HOOK for sure. It’s a very intricate menu but still retains a level of simplicity. As we are on the historic 1929 Warner Theater site, we are looking back at that elegantly beautiful era when it was the place to be. We will have a cocktail program for audiences at the show that emulates the classics from that period but with a Spiegelworld twist.
For the cocktails in Superfrico, we will use many culinary techniques without any of the fuss. The drinks here will be fast, fun, and delicious. The most significant difference is that the Atlantic City menu is inspired by the Amalfi Coast whereas our Las Vegas menu has influences from the Sicilian Coast. That brings a lot of different flavors like coffee, Sorrento lemons, rosemary, basil, and plum tomatoes. It will be a very bright spectrum of flavor profiles from the coast.
Is the new cocktail menu for The Hook complete?
As of two days ago, I’m 99% sure it’s ready.