This one really hit the spot yesterday. It was hot out but not overly so. I wanted something I could sit down with and use as a vehicle to procrastinate. 'I should start painting the house and I will...but not right now.' Ditto mowing the yard. I wasn't quite in the mood for something with a lot of citrus or soda. As I looked through recipes I've gathered over the years I came across the El Nacional. When I read the list of ingredients I wondered why this drink wasn't getting more attention around the house. Smoky, bitter, strong flavors, not too sweet...it looked perfect. So I made one and sat outside and listened to the birds.
El Nacional - Mezcal, Campari, Amaro, Dry Vermouth, Scotch, Chocolate Bitters, Lemon Twist
This drink starts out with smoke on the nose from the scotch and mezcal which leads quickly to a pleasant co-mingling of Campari and Zucca amaro. The original recipe specifies Ramazzotti for the amaro but I'm out. Zucca is a fantastic amaro which gets some of its bitterness and flavor from rhubarb in addition to a variety of other botanicals. Its not a direct sub but this drink did not seem the worse for its inclusion. The dual role of bitter components makes for an intriguing combination of flavors - Campari offers a bright and bitter quality while Zucca's bitterness grounds things with a rich and complex depth. All of this is happening while the mezcal (I used Ilegal Mezcal Joven) is contributing its own unique earthy quality. Smoke yes, and agave but also fruit, specifically pears. I used Bitter End's Mexican Mole bitters and pulled the quantity back to two dashes from the three specified in the recipe as they have a tendency to take over. These bitters have a spicy quality that lingers well into the finish tying into the sweet, bitter and smoky flavors already in abundance.
El Nacional - Casey Robison, Barrio, Seattle
1 oz Mezcal
1 oz Campari
1/2 oz Ramazzotti Amaro
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
3 dashes Chocolate Bitters
Garnish - 2-3 drops Laphroaig
Garnish - Lemon Twist
Stir, Strain, Up