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In the heart of Havana, Cuba, amidst the vibrant streets and historical landmarks, the Hotel Nacional stands as an iconic symbol of luxury and sophistication. Since its grand opening in 1930, this legendary hotel has played host to countless dignitaries, celebrities, and tourists seeking a taste of the city’s glamorous past. Among the many tales that echo within the hotel’s walls, none is more celebrated than the creation of the Hotel Nacional cocktail, a cocktail that has become synonymous with the elegance and charm of this historic establishment. Widely believed to have been crafted by one of three esteemed bartenders—Will P. Taylor, Eddie Woelke, or Fred Kaufman—the cocktail encapsulates the spirit of Havana in a glass, offering a journey back to a bygone era.
The Hotel Nacional de Cuba, an architectural gem overlooking the azure waters of the Caribbean, opened its doors in 1930, marking the beginning of a new chapter in Cuban hospitality. This period was characterized by an air of sophistication, as Havana emerged as a playground for the rich and famous. Against this backdrop, the creation of the Hotel Nacional cocktail is shrouded in mystery, with different accounts attributing its inception to various talented mixologists.
Among the trio of bartenders linked to the creation of this cocktail, Will P. Taylor stands out as a prominent figure. Known for his mastery behind the bar, Taylor was a key contributor to the hotel’s illustrious reputation. His innovative approach to mixology and dedication to crafting exquisite cocktails earned him the admiration of patrons and colleagues alike. However, the narrative surrounding the cocktail’s origin also features Eddie Woelke and Fred Kaufman, adding an element of intrigue to its history.
Each of these bartenders brought a unique set of skills and creativity to the Hotel Nacional, contributing to the establishment’s reputation as a haven for cocktail enthusiasts. Woelke and Kaufman, like Taylor, left an indelible mark on the hotel’s legacy, making it challenging to definitively attribute the creation of the Hotel Nacional cocktail to a single individual. Instead, it seems that the collaborative spirit of the hotel’s bar scene during this golden era played a crucial role in the cocktail’s emergence.
At the heart of the Hotel Nacional cocktail is a meticulously crafted recipe that reflects the flavors of Cuba and the hotel’s glamorous ambiance. Comprising white rum, apricot liqueur, pineapple juice, fresh lime juice, and simple syrup, the cocktail achieves a harmonious balance of sweetness, tartness, and spirit. The use of white rum, a quintessential Caribbean spirit, serves as the foundation for this cocktail, while the apricot liqueur adds a subtle, fruity complexity. The pineapple and lime juices contribute a refreshing zing, creating a delightful interplay of flavors that transports the drinker to the sun-soaked streets of Havana.
45 ml white rum
7.5 ml apricot liqueur
22.5 ml pineapple juice
15 ml fresh lime juice
7.5 ml simple syrup
Garnish: lime wedge
Add the white rum, apricot liqueur, pineapple juice, simple syrup, and fresh lime juice into a cocktail shaker.
Add ice and shake for 10-12 seconds, until chilled.
Strain into a coupe glass.
Garnish with a lime wedge.