The Hotel Nacional cocktail, also known as the Hotel Nacional Special, is a classic drink recipe named after Cuba’s famous hotel of the same name. The hotel sits atop Taganana Hill in Vedado in La Habana and was known to host all sorts of guests. Everyone from famous celebrities like Mary Pickford, politicians and diplomats, and even a less savory crowd like the mob. The key ingredient in this classic Cuban cocktail is the apricot liqueur, which combines perfectly with the pineapple juice for a big splash of tropical flavors on the palate.

What is the history of the Hotel Nacional cocktail?

The Hotel Nacional is the Daiquiri variation you’ve probably never heard of. It hails from the golden era of the 1930s when Cuba was a thriving economy and a tourist destination for thirsty Americans looking to wet their beaks and bask in the glorious Caribbean sun.

The birthplace of this rum-based classic cocktail is the Hotel Nacional de Cuba. The cocktail is also known as the Hotel Nacional Special and it was served as the signature drink of this glamorous establishment that was known for its elegance and for hosting a myriad of illustrious guests in its prime.

The creation of the drink is attributed to the hotel’s bar manager, Will P. Taylor, a name immortalized in Charles H. Baker’s seminal work, “The Gentleman’s Companion: Being an Exotic Drinking Book Or, Around the World with Jigger, Beaker and Flask”. The drink combines the tropical allure of pineapple and lime with the rich depth of rum and apricot brandy, the Hotel Nacional cocktail encapsulates the essence of Cuban high life, a refreshing reminder of a bygone era of grandeur and charm.

What type of rum should I use?

You can use a white or dark rum to make a Hotel Nacional, and fortunately The Real Havana Club has both expressions so you can make this classic Cuban cocktail with an authentic Cuban rum.

I personally prefer the Añejo Clásico, or any other dark aged rum. I think the richer flavors found in a dark rum pair better with the apricot liqueur. But if you’re looking for something lighter and brighter you can opt for their Añejo Blanco expression.

Apricot liqueur? What the heck is that?

Apricot liqueur is a delightful little potion made from ripe apricots. The fruit is macerated with some high-quality spirit (like brandy or neutral grain alcohol) and then combined with sugar. The result is a rich, flavorful liqueur that’s sweet, slightly tart, and loaded with the essence of juicy apricots. The Hotel Nacional Special is one of the best uses for this liqueur. Just a splash and it introduces a wonderful layer of fruity depth to your drink.

What kind of glassware should I use?

When making this drink you should consider the lovely foam that will form as a result of the pineapple juice. Don’t be like me and pour it in a glass that has a wide rim. This will allow the foam to spread across the wide surface area. Big mistake! Opt for narrower glassware that can also hold a lot of volume. With a narrower rim the foam stays thick and fluffy, which is part of the charm of the Hotel Nacional Special.

hotel nacional cuban cocktail

Hotel Nacional

You’ll feel like a special guest at a fancy hotel when you mix this drink.
4 from 4 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine cuban
Servings 1
Calories 180 kcal


  • 2 oz rum
  • 1/4 oz apricot liqueur
  • 1 oz pineapple juice
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup


  • Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake for 10-15 seconds.
  • Double strain into a chilled coupe glass and garnish with a lime wheel.


Calories: 180kcal
Keyword apricot, pineapple
Tried this recipe?Mention @cubancocktailhour!

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