Naked & Famous + the Chartreuse Crisis.

The brothers gonna work it out…

Naked & Famous + the Chartreuse Crisis.

If we’re looking for modern classic there is nothing that fits the bill more perfectly than the Naked & Famous created by Joaquín Simó at Death and Co. NYC in 2011 as the bastard love-child of the only recently resurrected Last Word and the equally equally proportioned Paper Plane, itself created only a few years previously in the same city. If we’re looking for the ingredients to make one on the other hand we might have a problem – but we’ll get to that. Riffing on the Last Word the Naked & Famous, which I thought was either named for a Canadian denim company or a song by The Presidents of the United States of America but is, according to Joaquin, from a lyric in a Tricky* track, consists of equal parts of mezcal, lime juice, Aperol and yellow Chartreuse and is really, really good and really really easy to make. Or at least it used to be. Let’s talk about the key ingredient of the Naked & Famous:

Chartreuse: Monky Business.

Chartreuse is an ancient and secret liqueur made by monks – or as they call themselves Carthusian brothers – at their monastery in the French Alps. In spring the brothers wander the mountains gathering the 130 herbs and plants that go into their spectacularly bonkers 55% green liqueur (and derivatives; the most salient being the yellow used in the N&F). And yes, the colour is named after the booze and not the other way around. So far, so idyllic. Despite some early problems things have trundled along quite nicely over the last 100 years for the brothers with just enough sales to support their simple lifestyle and quiet devotion to God and nature. But then the likes of us came along and started using their gently crafted products in Last Words, Chartreuse Swizzles and (shhhhh) Naked & Famouses. Demand continued to expand and recently the brothers decided it was all getting far too commercial. And these good dudes certainly not being in this for the money said, “Fuck this for a picnic in the Alps, we’re just gonna respect the environment and just make enough to keep us in smocks and bread.” Well, not literally**, but you get the drift. Their distributor – for the brothers do not dirty their hands with such things – announced this decision to an aghast cocktail community and declared that production of Chartreuse would be limited to 1.6 million bottles per year which would mostly be distributed to it’s “traditional markets”. I was very respectful of their decision. I could afford to be as I live in one of their traditional markets. Until I popped into my local and magnificently stocked bottle emporium and asked for a bottle of Yellow Chartreuse. Five minutes later, when the proprietor had stopped laughing, I realised the problem was more serious than I thought. I’m pretty sure a wave of panic buying has made the issue far bigger than it needed to be yet here is the current situation: In general it is green Chartreuse that is nigh on impossible to acquire at this time of writing with yellow being merely incredibly difficult to source. Strangely, reader Diego from Chile who got hooked on N&Fs while in NYC could only find the normally grailesque Elixir Vegetal de la Grande Chartreuse that we discussed ages ago but more on Diego’s experiments very soon. I was eventually able to get my yellow Chartreuse but I’ll be damned if I’m telling any of you vultures where, just in case I need another one. However, I shall now discuss a few ways to ride out the current crisis which I’m hoping will subside once the panic buyers feel they have enough:

Clooster bitter/liqueur.

This Dutch product makes a pretty decent substitute for green Chartreuse. Despite being only 30% rather that 55% and containing 17 herbs rather than 130, the flavour, colour and mouthfeel are very close. That it’s typically about a third of the price is an added bonus. While no longer made by monks it seems to be based on a similar age-old recipe. That’s where the good news ends because it might be hard to find outside of the Netherlands and Belgium although it does pop up in the USA sometimes at a 40% strength. Even in the Dutch market it’s pretty thin on the ground because a) the ceramic bottles it traditionally comes in are/were made in Ukraine and b) it’s an excellent green Chartreuse substitute. If you are lucky enough to find any be aware that whether it is branded Boomsma and/or Claerkampster it is exactly the same juice in the bottle.

Diego’s sneaky yellow C.

Aforementioned Diego came up with an interesting innovation using his elixir. Despite have no yellow Chartreuse to compare it to he formulated something that made a decent Naked & Famous. I now do, so I present a tweaked version closely based on his excellent work. Dissolve 25ml of runny honey in 50ml of warm water and then stir in 2.5ml (half a teaspoon) of Elixir de Chartreuse vegetal and the resultant liquid will be enough for three (ok – and a bit) N&Fs. It doesn’t taste quite the same as yellow Chartreuse head-to-head but the colour, texture and flavour are close enough to mix with.

Elixir d’Anvers.

I happened to have a couple of miniatures of this lying around and it turns out this Belgian liqueur made of 32 botanical is similarish to yellow Chartreuse if somewhat less intense. At 37% the strength is close enough and the colour is spot on. In a pinch you can use it instead of yellow C but if you fortify it with a few drops (4 per 0.75oz is what I like) of Elixir de Chartreuse you have a very serviceable substitute. Of course your chances of finding both of those esoteric products might be slim.

Order from Italy!

Regular reader Quiddity reports that there appears to be no lack of supply in Italia so EU readers could just order some from there. Ensuring that they get some decent Amari and Maraschino at the same time to help justify the shipping costs of course.

All of the above are pictured. Diego yellow C in the clear flip-top bottle and Cloosterbitter decanted into the vintage Chartreuse bottle so you can see the colour. And so that I can show off my vintage Chartreuse bottle.

Naked & Famous.

0.75oz / 22ml Yellow Chartreuse (or sub^).

0.75oz / 22ml Joven mezcal.

0.75oz / 22ml Aperol.

0.75oz / 22ml Fresh lime juice.

Shake with ice and double strain into a chilled coupé glass.

Toast The Carthusian Brothers – keeping very quiet and making the good stuff since 1737. Respect brothers.

*Admittedly not that Tricky track but Black Steel is too good to miss.

**We don’t really know what they said because they don’t really speak much and when they do it’s mostly amongst themselves. And I can use all the bad language I like because they don’t do internet.

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