Doc Yale

El Nacional
A Drink for the Dismal Season
El Nacional - photo by Stuart Mullenberg

As we move into the dismal (holiday) season it is nice to have a few new and different drinks available for imbibing.  El Nacional  is one of those that we prepare for Christmas time cheer.  And I thank my sister-in-law, Hermien, for turning us on to this drink.  I post it now, because a few of the ingredients are hard to find if you live, like we do, far from supermarket liquor stores.   

El Nacional is not to be confused with with the Hotel Nacional Cocktail which was named after the Havana Bar that hosted a notorious set of celebrities back in its heyday.  In fact there is no overlap in ingredients.  We do not know the origin of the name “El Nacional” but will give credit to Seattle Bartender Casey Robison who has featured this drink in Barrio and had it written up in Imbibe.   

We make it up in large batches mixing:  

  • 16 oz. Mezcal, or Tequila
  • 16 oz. Campari
  • 8 oz. Amaro Averna
  • 8 oz. dry Vermouth
  • 2 oz  chocolate bitters

Of the ingredients, chocolate bitters is the hardest for us in rural northern California to find.  The nearest store to carry such is two hours from home. Amaro Averna may also be hard to find.  Casey Robison combines the ingredients in a mixing glass then strains into a chilled glass, drips good scotch on the drink’s surface and serves with a lemon peel twist and garnish.

We are a little more plebian.  We use tequila instead of mescal and pour our pre-made El Nacional over ice—with or without garnish. And we skip the scotch unless we happen to have some Laphroaig or similar quality stuff on hand.