Take an era-defying journey to Havana’s legendary Hotel Nacional and rub elbows with the top ranks of Cuban society and American mob bosses. While you can’t really do that, you can bask in 1930s Cuban glory reminiscent of that right here in Bali at El Nacional.
After the success of 40 Thieves – a cheeky speakeasy that turned into a favourite go-to bar for a nightcap fix in no time at all – Singaporean-Malay entrepreneur and mixologist extraordinaire Shah Dillon established El Nacional. Located amidst the always-busy Seminyak area, El Nacional is safely and elusively tucked away on the second floor of a restaurant, without any sign that gives it away. It didn’t stay hidden for long, though.
El Nacional transcends time and space as guests will feel like they are transported to 1930s Havana in Cuba. Step in to the elegant retro ambience — with jazz salsa tunes from the live Latin band lacing the air, nudging you to shake those hips, and just leave your inhibitions and worries at the door. Staying true to the theme, El Nacional takes pride in housing the largest collection of fine rums in Bali and offering creative tipples concocted from these liquid gems. With 180 different bottles of rum and counting, dancing the night away is inevitable here. And if you weren’t a rum fan before, you will be afterwards.
Settling the chicken-or-egg dilemma, Shah admits that the inspiration for El Nacional came from the product first, the rum. “I wanted a more intimate and elegant setting where guests could feel the sophistication and romance that goes into the rum concept,” Shah explained. “We blend our own house-blend dark rum for our house cocktails. We batch it up with spiced rum, dark rum and add molasses, and let it sous vide for four hours, then we cool it for 24 hours before bottling it for use.”
El Nacional serves inventive rum-based cocktails for different palates, from the bar’s white rum version of an espresso martini – the Havana Joe, to Edamamae Mai Tai, a lovechild of dark and white rum enhanced with fresh lime juice and homemade edamame almond syrup. One of the crowd’s favourites here is the Champagne Colada, something you’ll get when you put a little bit of swank into the favourite tropical libation as it combines house-blend dark rum and Champagne.
Of course, the bar serves other liquors and cocktails based on anything but rum, but why would you miss out on the stellar rum selection? You know what they say, when in (Bali’s) Havana…
Early this December El Nacional is celebrating its first anniversary, so keep an eye open for a surprise.
- 45ml house dark rum
- 20ml brown butter pineapple syrup
- 30ml pineapple juice
- 15ml lime juice
- 2 scoops of coconut sorbet
- Champagne to top up
Blend all the ingredients, top with Champagne, and garnish with dehydrated meringue. Serve.
Jalan Petitenget No. 114, Seminyak
Bali 80361, Indonesia
T: (+62) 87862267657
Exquisite Taste December 2019 – February 2020