Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Rum Cocktails

Hotel Nacional

An elegant cocktail coupe rests on a blue canvas surface and backdrop. The drink within is bright yellow with a thin white foam head, garnished with a whole lime wheel.
Image:

Liquor.com / Tim Nusog

Cuba has given the world a plethora of classic drinks. They include the Mojito, the Cuba Libre and, of course, the darling of bartenders and beach-goers everywhere, the Daiquiri. Along with the Daiquiri, the country has given us numerous Daiquiri variations, like Hemingway’s favorite version that he would drink at the famous El Floridita. Another classic Daiquiri comes from the Hotel Nacional, just down the street from El Floradita. Named for its place of origin, the Hotel Nacional is a delightful and historical twist on the classic and features a few unusual ingredients.

The bartender most commonly attributed with crafting the first Hotel Nacional is Will P. Taylor, who previously worked as the bar manager at the famous Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York before Prohibition closed it down. However, two other bartenders were at the Hotel Nacional in the early 1930s, when the eponymous drink was created: Eddie Woelke and Fred Kaufman. It’s likely that the true answer involves all three in some capacity, but when the recipe was first published in Charles H. Baker Jr.’s “Gentleman’s Companion” in 1939, it was attributed to Taylor.

Regardless of who created it, the Hotel Nacional became the signature drink of the hotel, and a veritable classic. Generally, it starts with white rum though aged rum can also be used (keep in mind it won’t be as vividly bright if you use a darker rum). If you live in the United States, real Cuban rum can still be a pain to get your hands on, but Bacardi 8, Flor de Cana, and Cana Brava white rums are all solid alternatives. Then, along with the obligatory lime juice, the drink employs pineapple juice. Using canned pineapple juice is fine, though using fresh squeezed juice will create a brighter, more floral result.

The most dramatic change to the base Daiquiri recipe is the addition of apricot liqueur. It fills in for some of the simple syrup for sweetness, and adds a subtle fruitiness that comes through mostly on the finish. It also gives the drink a richness to balance the tartness of the lime and pineapple.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces white or aged rum

  • 1/4 ounce apricot liqueur

  • 1 ounce pineapple juice

  • 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed

  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup

  • Garnish: lime wheel

Steps

  1. Add the rum, apricot liqueur, pineapple juice, lime juice and simple syrup into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.

  2. Double-strain into a chilled coupe glass.

  3. Garnish with a lime wheel.