Obscure speakeasy 40 Thieves is no stranger to Bali’s night crawlers, and until recently they thought they had found the ultimate after-hours escape. That is, until the brain behind the bar, Singaporean-Malay entrepreneur Shah Dillon, opened the doors to 40 Thieves’ long-lost sister from Cuba, El Nacional, just a few doors down. Similar to its older sister, El Nacional is sultry and elusive – hidden on the second storey of a Japanese diner and accessed through a concealed stairway at the back of the restaurant, and there’s no signage whatsoever.
The similarities stop there. El Nacional transports patrons back to Hotel Nacional in Havana, Cuba, circa the 1930s – instead of 1920s New York. So, imagine an elegant retro setting with jazz salsa tunes wafting through the air, add curated cigars to the mix, and more importantly, the largest collection of fine rums on the island and creative cocktails crafted from them.
“My inspiration comes from the product itself, the rum,” Shah mused. “I wanted a more intimate and elegant setting where guests feel the sophistication and romance that go into the rum concept.” With 180 different bottles of rum – and counting – to choose from, El Nacional promises a night full of merriment and dancing. “We make our own house-blend dark rum for our house cocktails. We batch it up with spiced rum, white rum and add molasses, and let it sous vide for four hours, then we cool it for 24 hours before bottling it for use.”
If you haven’t been a big fan of rum before, you will be after a visit to El Nacional. The selection of inspired cocktails is stellar, including El Nacional’s white rum version of an espresso martini, the Havana Joe. The Champagne Colada is a snazzy take on the classic pina colada, using house-blend dark rum and topped with Champagne. For something truly unique, try the Edamame Mai Tai, concocted from a blend of dark and white rum, fresh lime juice and homemade edamame almond syrup.
TOP 3 TIPPLES
- Champagne Colada
- Havana Joe
- Edamame Mai Tai
Jalan Petitenget No. 114, Seminyak
Bali 80361, Indonesia
T: (+62) 87862267657
Exquisite Taste September – November 2019