Drink Tips with Our Mixologist
Nacional 27 is known for being one of the very first Latin restaurants in Chicago to feature an extensive list of craft cocktails. All the libations on our menu were created and designed in-house by our head mixologist, David Leon. As inspiration strikes, David will update the cocktail list to include seasonal ingredients, experiment with new flavor pairings and show off his mastery. We asked him what went into creating one of our most delicious and most recognizable signature cocktails – the San Luis Smash.
How did you come up with the recipe for the San Luis Smash?
I was just starting to get into mescal and all the possibilities the come with it. Most people think it’s “basically tequila” but it’s not. It has its own flavor and profile, like any spirit. I wanted to create a cocktail that anyone can enjoy; whether they’re just getting into Mezcal, like me, or if they’re seasoned Mezcal connoisseurs.
How do the rum and the Mezcal complement each other in the drink?
I wanted to bring out a tiki feel in a Latin cocktail, while at the same time making sure the cocktail would be enjoyable for guests who don’t typically order cocktails. I played around with the flavors of each spirit and balanced them throughout the tasting process. Rum drinks are found more in tropical drinks and I wanted to feature the oaky deep flavor found in rum. Mezcal has a completely different profile, where it’s agave forward, with a smokey flavor like scotch. I found that 1.5 oz of Sombra Mezcal and 0.5 oz of Brugal Anejo Rum struck the perfect balance.
What inspired the presentation and garnish placement?
I would have to say I was inspired by island life and the laid back culture. After going to a few events around the city, I began to see the Latin influence within that culture, so I thought “why not bring a tiki influence into a Latin cocktail?” I decided to garnish the drink with fire just like a tiki torch, and add rum, lime and Jamaica Agua Fresca to bring out that island flavor. Plus, I wanted to create a cocktail that guests would react to, adding the fire as a garnish really adds that wow factor.
Where did the name come from?
The name is from the city of San Luis in Mexico and the type of cocktail it is categorized as. San Luis is just north of Mexico City and it’s where Sombra Mezcal gets its agave plants from. “Smash” is a type of cocktail: smash cocktails are spirit based with fruit, herbs and crushed ice that’s typically strained before serving.
Nacional 27 got it’s name after the 27 Latin countries in South America. We like to feature different flavors within the cocktail menu, dinner menu and nightlife. Come visit our talented bartenders and David himself Wednesdays through Saturdays! On Wednesday nights, we offer complimentary salsa lessons and a $27 menu to enjoy. Fridays and Saturdays starting at 11 PM, dance the night away in Chicago with a mashup of top 40 and Latin beats. Eat. Drink. Dance at Nacional 27 and enjoy the island life with the San Luis Smash. See the recipe below.
San Luis Smash:
1.5 oz. Sombra Mezcal
0.5 oz Brugal Anejo Rum
1.25 oz Jamaica Agua Fresca
1.0 oz. Agave
0.75 oz. fresh lime juice
6 sprigs of mint
Garnish: Lime shell, drop of 151 Rum, fire