The Last Word, an equal-parts cocktail comprising gin, green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and lime juice, has inspired many spin-offs. Among the most noteworthy of those is the Naked & Famous, created by Joaquín Simó, most recently a partner in New York City’s now-shuttered Pouring Ribbons, during his time at Death & Co.
“That cocktail has really ended up being my most popular creation, which I wouldn't have expected when I created it a decade ago,” says Simó.
Echoing an oft-quoted statement about his drink’s inspirations, Simó says, “The Naked & Famous is indeed the bastard love child borne out of an illicit Oaxacan love affair between a classic Last Word and Sam Ross' Paper Plane cocktail.”
It shares its equal-parts formula with both drinks, and an ingredient—lime juice and Aperol, respectively—with each, but swaps the Last Word’s green Chartreuse for the gentler, sweeter yellow version and reaches for an unexpected base spirit: mezcal. And not just any bottle, either.
“Choosing a big, aggressively smoky and funky mezcal was key here, as there is relatively little of it in the drink and it needs to stand up against two liqueurs, neither of which lacks complexity,” says Simó. “If you want to say ‘Pour cost be damned!’ and make it according to the original recipe (which is what we do at Pouring Ribbons), the mezcal to reach for is Del Maguey's Chichicapa bottling.”
The drink’s other components were chosen to complement that particular mezcal. “Rather than go huge with Campari and green Chartreuse, I chose their younger, lower-proof and -intensity siblings as modifiers to ensure that the complex notes of Chichicapa would not be drowned out while retaining the equal proportions of the original recipe,” says Simó.
Over the decade since it was created, the cocktail has come to be considered a true modern classic. “I attribute its popularity to the balance and depth found in the drink,” says Simó. “The fruity notes of Aperol and honeyed herbaceousness of yellow Chartreuse don't result in a cloying one-note drink, but rather harmonize beautifully to create a refreshing, citrusy drink that changes in flavors from attack through mid-palate and into a long finish.”
Many have wondered about the drink’s name over the years, so we’ll leave you with this fun fact. It comes from a lyric in a Tricky song Simó loved as a teenager: “Tricky Kid” from the album Pre-Millenium Tension.
3/4 ounce mezcal (preferably Del Maguey Chichicapa)
3/4 ounce Aperol
3/4 ounce yellow Chartreuse
3/4 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Strain into a chilled coupe glass.