What’s shakin, cocktail fans?
Happy New Year, and welcome to Episode 216 of The Modern Bar Cart Podcast!
FEATURED COCKTAIL – NAKED AND FAMOUS
This episode’s featured cocktail is the Naked and Famous. To make it, you’ll need:
- ¾ OZ. MEZCAL
- ¾ OZ. YELLOW CHARTREUSE
- ¾ OZ. APEROL
- ¾ OZ. FRESH LIME JUICE
Combine these ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, give em a good, healthy shake until all the ingredients are properly chilled and diluted, then strain into a stemmed cocktail glass and enjoy.
This is another one of your “Modern Classic” cocktails, like the Penicillin, the Revolver, the Jungle Bird, and pretty much anything else invented in the latter half of the 20th century or during the Cocktail Renaissance. The Naked and Famous was created by New York bartender Joaquín Simó, who basically thought of it as – his words here – the “bastard love child” of a Last Word and a Paper Plane.
It’s got that lovely perfect ratio and acidity from both of those drinks, as well as the Last Word’s herbality and the Paper Plane’s slight bitterness and rosy hue. And if you take a step back just to admire the flavors in this sucker, there’s a lot to appreciate. You’ve got multiple sweet modifiers, but only one citrus juice, which might make you think that the drink would be out of balance, but the malic acid in the lime juice and the mineral and smoke components from the Mezcal are both pulling double duty to make sure that all the various flavors and tastes remain in tension, without one completely taking over.
This is my takeaway for the Naked and Famous cocktail: a truly talented mixologist (and yes, I’m using that word intentionally) can achieve “balance” in a drink by going beyond taste. In simple, 3-ingredient classics like the Old Fashioned, Manhattan, and Martini, balance is an agreement between sweet, boozy, and slightly bitter tastes. Too sweet? Use less of the sweet thing. Too boozy, use more of the sweet thing, and maybe an extra dash of bitters. This move generally works across base spirits, across sweeteners, and across bitters.
But once you escalate to four extremely complex, unique, and assertive ingredients with TONS of flavor and texture working above and beyond the sweet/sour/bitter and boozy realm, the stakes are higher: more can go wrong – i.e. there’s more ways to mess up the drink. But with great risk comes the potential reward of realizing something so complex, unexpectedly harmonious, and noteworthy that it earns itself a spot on cocktail Olympus. That’s what the smoke, minerality, malic acid bitterness, and herbal complexity are doing here in the Naked and Famous Cocktail, pushing balance beyond mere taste and into the realm of complex flavor.