The Hotel Nacional Special is a lovely little concoction you should have on your short list to try whenever you juice a fresh pineapple. It is a wonderful showcase for that juice, and unlike many Tiki drinks with long lists of ingredients, you needn’t bother with this one if all you have is canned. I got this recipe, again, from Jeff Berry’s new book, Beachbum Berry’s Potions of the Caribbean. (Currently available only from its publisher, Cocktail Kingdom) The Bum notes the fresh juice requirement specifically in this recipe, and I hope he will forgive me for deliberately making one with canned, just to see. As is usually the case, he is right.
- 1 oz. white Cuban rum (I’m a law-abiding American, so I use Mount Gay from Barbados)
- 1/2 oz. apricot brandy
- 1 oz. fresh pineapple juice, strained clear
- 1/4 oz. fresh lime juice
Shake quickly with a moderate amount of ice, and strain into a small cocktail glass. Garnish delicately, if at all.
You will note that this is a little drink. That is a 6 oz. coupe in my photo above, and it contains one and a half servings. And putting the size aside, as Tiki drinks go, the booze per sip ratio is at the light end of the spectrum as well.
As per my lede, the Hotel Nacional Special is a delicious way to justify all the hassle of properly juicing pineapples. Unlike most Tiki drinks, that one ingredient stands out supreme, and the others do not so much morph its character as harmonize with it. This is another drink that will be on the menu all month long. It is light, accessible, and not nearly so sweet as you might think. I’d suggest it as a great opening or closing round in an evening of higher proof libations.