With a striking orange hue and a name like Naked and Famous, this beloved modern cocktail is a real head turner!
Made with smoky mezcal, fresh lime juice, and two popular liqueurs, the Naked and Famous is both easy to make and easy to enjoy.
If you’re new to mezcal, this is a great drink to try. The citrusy, mild bittersweetness of Aperol and the herbal complexity of yellow Chartreuse bring out the best of the funky agave spirit.
This cocktail has layered flavors while also remaining fairly ‘easy-drinking,’ so it’s a great option for serving at cocktail parties or other get-togethers where individual tastes can range wildly.
History of the cocktail
The Naked and Famous was invented in 2011 by Joaquín Simó at the famous NYC bar Death & Co. Referencing the drinks that inspired it, Simó has hilariously noted that the drink is like “the bastard love child of a classic Last Word and the Paper Plane, conceived in the mountains of Oaxaca.”
The Last Word is a classic cocktail combining equal parts gin, green Chartreuse, lime juice, and maraschino liqueur.
The Paper Plane is a modern cocktail (invented by bartender Sam Ross in 2008) that mixes equal parts bourbon, Aperol, lemon juice, and Amaro Nonino.
Simó took equal parts Aperol, lime juice, and the more mild yellow Chartreuse and created the perfect cocktail to showcase the smoky flavor of mezcal. The Naked and Famous is smoky, citrusy, sweet, and herbal. It hits so many flavors at once, you just want to keep going back for more.
What mezcal to use?
I’ve read that Simó recommends Del Maguey Chichicapa, but this bottle is a bit pricey averaging $70. If you love mezcal, pick up this bottle and you won’t be disappointed. But if you’re just dipping your toe into the world of agave spirits, you can go with something less expensive.
You want a mezcal with enough smoke to hold up to the herbal punch of the Chartreuse, so I like to use the funky Montelobos. You can use any mezcal you have on hand, just keep in mind that mild, low smoke mezcals will get a bit lost in this bright and bold cocktail.
What else can you do with yellow Chartreuse?
If you just picked up a bottle of yellow Chartreuse and you’re not sure what else to use it in, try a Yellowjacket cocktail made with gin and honey.
Can you use green Chartreuse instead?
Yes, you can certainly make the drink with it, but will it taste like a Naked and Famous? Not really. Green Chartreuse has a higher ABV, a stronger herbal flavor, and it’s less sweet. You might have to do some tweaking, like adding more Aperol, to make the cocktail work with green Chartreuse.
Some Naked and Famous recipes don’t specify a garnish, others say use a lime wedge. I like to use a lime wedge or express a big lime peel over the drink and then garnish with a fancy twist. Garnish as you like, but I recommend using lime for a fresh aroma that complements the mezcal’s smoke. Check out the video to learn how to make the garnish I’ve used here.
How to easily batch the Naked and Famous cocktail for a group
The standard equal parts recipe calls for three quarters of an ounce of each ingredient. However, you can add a quarter ounce of each ingredient, making it even one ounce measures, and it becomes incredibly simple to batch for three or more people, without adding a whole lot to each drink’s ABV.
Looking for mezcal cocktail inspiration beyond the standard Margarita?
Naked and Famous – Mezcal and Yellow Chartreuse Cocktail
- ¾ oz mezcal
- ¾ oz Yellow Chartreuse
- ¾ oz Aperol
- ¾ oz lime juice
- Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill it 3/4 with ice.
- Shake until chilled, then strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a lime wedge or lime twist.