Here’s a stunning modern classic drink: the Naked and Famous cocktail! This drink is perfectly balanced with smoky, citrus, bitter and sweet.
Some cocktail recipes make us sit up and take notice, and this is one of them. The Naked and Famous cocktail is as impressive as its name…from first sip! It’s got only four ingredients but beautifully balanced, the perfect harmony of smoky, citrus, bitter and sweet. This modern cocktail was created in 2011, but it’s got nods to the past alluding to a historic cocktail that we know and love. Alex and I have been mixing up cocktails for years (we’ve got 200+ of them), and this one stands out. It’s crisp, fresh, modern with a retro flair…in fact, it might be kind of perfect.
What’s a Naked and Famous cocktail?
The Naked and Famous cocktail is a mixed drink made with equal parts mezcal, Chartreuse, Aperol, and lime juice. It was invented in 2011 by bartender Joaquín Simó while working at the bar Death and Co in New York City. He’s said to have claimed that this drink is the “bastard love child” of the Last Word and the Paper Plane. And since we knew both drinks, we knew exactly what he was talking about (more on that below).
Some modern classic cocktails go on to become “canonized” by the International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails. It includes all the classic cocktails (Martini, Manhattan, Old Fashioned and all the greats), and a few new ones have made the list. The Naked and Famous is an IBA official cocktail, so it has an “official” definition. The ingredients in a Naked and Famous are equal parts:
- Chartreuse (yellow Chartreuse for the IBA official version)
- Lime juice
The equal parts cocktail: like the Last Word
When you’ve made as many cocktails as we have, you start to notice patterns. An equal parts cocktail is one of our favorite formulas for a cocktail: mostly because it’s easy to remember! As you can see below, there’s a long historical tradition in this formula. Here are a few well-known equal parts cocktails like the Naked and Famous cocktail:
- Negroni: Invented in 1920’s, equal parts gin, red vermouth and Campari
- Last Word: Invented in 1916; equal parts gin, maraschino, Chartreuse, and lime
- Bijou Cocktail: Invented in 1890’s; equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Chartreuse
- Paper Plane: Invented in 2007; equal parts bourbon, Campari, amaro and lemon
Now, let’s talk through some of the ingredients in the Naked and Famous, shall we?
What is Chartreuse liqueur?
The most unique ingredient in a Naked and Famous cocktail that you might not have already is Chartreuse. What is it and is it worth buying? Here’s what to know:
- Chartreuse is an herbal liqueur that’s been made by French monks since the mid-1700’s. It’s made by aging alcohol with a secret blend of 130 plants. (And no, we did not make this up!) Chartreuse liqueur comes in two colors: green and yellow.
- How much does Chartreuse cost? A bottle will set you back $60, so it’s pricey stuff.
- What cocktail use Chartreuse? There are several Chartreuse cocktails. Green Chartreuse is featured in two iconic classic cocktails, the Last Word and Bijou. It’s also in a Fernet Sour.
- Do you really need yellow Chartreuse for this recipe? Yes and no. If you want to make the real Naked and Famous, you can try to find yellow. But since most other well-known cocktails only use green Chartreuse, we customized our recipe to use either version.
Aperol adds bitter complexity
If you’re considering making this cocktail, you probably know Aperol. It’s an Italian bitter aperitif with a bright orange color and lightly sweet, citrusy flavor. Aperol is most commonly used in the popular Aperol spritz. It tastes lightly sweet, bitter, and balanced, with notes of herbs and citrus.
Another famous Italian aperitif you might know is Campari, the main ingredient in a Negroni. Campari was the first ever aperitif invented in Italy in the 1860’s. Aperol came along in 1919, and it was later bought by the Campari company in the 1990’s. The light flavor of Aperol is much more approachable than bitter Campari, in our opinion. (Read more about the differences: Campari vs Aperol!)
Mezcal balances it with a wisp of smoke
The last liquor in the Naked and Famous cocktail is mezcal. Mezcal is a famous Mexican alcohol made from the agave plant. If you’ve had a drink at a bar in the last 5 years, you’ve probably tried something with mezcal in it! It’s absolutely worth adding to your collection. Here are some notes on this special liquor:
- Mezcal is a type of alcohol made from the agave plant (like tequila). Tequila is mezcal, but not all mezcal is tequila. Only one type of agave plant (blue agave) makes tequila, but mezcal can be made from 11 different varieties of agave.
- How much does mezcal cost? A bottle of mezcal on average costs between $20 and $40, but high end brands can cost much more.
- What’s the best mezcal to buy? Go to The Best Mezcal at Any Price.
- What other cocktails uses mezcal? Try these tasty mezcal cocktails: the Mezcal Margarita, Mezcal Negroni, Mezcal Mule and Mezcal Paloma.
How to make a Naked and Famous cocktail: shake and strain!
Once you’ve got all those ingredients assembled, the rest of it is cake! All you have to do is shake and strain. Here’s how to make a Naked and Famous:
- Shake: Add the ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Fill it with ice and then shake until very cold. (Don’t have a cocktail shaker? Use a mason jar with a cover instead.)
- Strain: Strain the drink into a cocktail glass. (Don’t have a cocktail strainer? Use a fine mesh strainer instead.)
- Garnish: If you’d like, a lime wedge makes the glass more festive.
And that’s it! We hope you find this drink as stunning and fresh as we do. Let us know in the comments below!
When to serve a Naked and Famous cocktail
The Naked and Famous cocktail is a fancy cocktail that’s modern and fresh. It requires a few special ingredients, but they’re absolutely worth the purchase. Serve it as a:
- Happy hour drink
- Dinner party drink
- Guys or girls night drink
- Cocktail hour drink
- 1 ounce* mezcal
- 1 ounce yellow or green Chartreuse
- 1 ounce Aperol
- 1 ounce fresh lime juice
- Add the mezcal, Chartreuse, Aperol, and lime juice to a cocktail shaker. Fill it with 2 handfuls ice and shake it until cold.
- Strain into a cocktail glass. If desired, garnish with a lime wedge.
*1 ounce = 2 tablespoons
- Category: Drink
- Method: Shaken
- Cuisine: Cocktail
Keywords: Naked and Famous cocktail
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.