It’s bright, it’s bouncy, and it’s as pink as cotton candy spun straight out of the state fair. But there’s nothing provincial about the majestic cosmopolitan cocktail. This favorite vodka martini-class mixed drink reflects its namesake, becoming a fast favorite soon after its emergence across many an urban area from Cleveland to San Francisco back to New York City.
It’s a simple and elegant drink, valued as much for its tart-cutting nature as it is for its smoothness and eminent drinkability. Favored throughout the world by everyone from working-class folks unwinding after a long day to upscale luminaries who find it complements their sense of style, the “cosmo” — as it is lovingly known — is one of the world’s truly sublime concoctions, as vibrant as the city lights it suggests, and the sky full of stars from which the very word is derived.
Claims to Fame
As is the case with many of the most popular cocktails, nobody is quite sure who invented the cosmo. Not surprisingly, a whole cast of characters has come forth over the years to claim it as their own, with none really having the receipts to back the claim up.
What is known, however, is that just like the related tequila-based drink, the margarita, it’s a variation of a far older cocktail known as the Daisy. Who exactly came up with the modern version is a matter of deep contention. Famous bartenders from the ’80s like Neil Murray and John Caine are credited with a role in its evolution. The gay bar scene in Provincetown, Massachusetts, is also thought to be one of the progenitors of the ubiquitous elixir.
In any case, what is true for sure is that by the late 1980s, it was on the menu at the Odeon restaurant in Manhattan, with Toby Cecchini & Melissa Huffsmith-Roth named as the originators.
Cosmopolitan Cocktail Recipe
While we may never truly untangle the mystery of Cosmo’s real parents and birthplace, there can be no denying that there is indeed a standard recipe set in stone, regardless of what personal spin any individual mixologist might put on it. If you want to taste the real deal made by your own hand, here’s the way to go:
- Prep Time 2-3 Minutes
- Cook Time 1 Minutes
- Total Time 4-5 Minutes
- Serves 1 People
- Calories 150 kcal
- 1 1/2 ounces citrus vodka, such as Absolut Citron
- 1 ounce Cointreau or equivalent orange liqueur
- 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
- 1 dash cranberry juice
- 1 lime wedge for garnish
- Add the vodka, Cointreau, lime juice, and cranberry juice to a cocktail shaker.
- Fill the cocktail shaker with ice.
- Shake the shaker vigorously for 20 seconds.
- Pour cocktail into a glass, straining the ice.
- Attach lime wedge for garnish.
- Prepare to drink a fabulous adult beverage!
What Goes Good With a Cosmo?
Food pairings aren’t only for fine wines or fancy beers. Cocktails are just as worthy of combining with just the right meal or snack, and the cosmopolitan is no different in that regard. The trick is knowing how to use the characteristics of the concoction for a superior eating experience. Start with a nice cheese platter; the stronger the cheese, the better. The Cosmo’s sharpness dances well with everything from goudas to parmesans, neither overwhelming the fermented dairy delights nor getting lost in the flavors, regardless of the aging.
If you’re chowing down on a salad with dried cranberries in it, you better believe that dash of cranberry juice will make your palate pop even more with the fruit. And believe it or not, even a hearty burger can play nice with a cosmo. The savory juices get sliced up a bit by the natural citrus in the beverage, making for the perfect balance.
Cosmo Strain Pairings
Beyond the Cosmo Basics
As is the case with just about every other cocktail in the universe, there are endless variations to the fundamental cosmopolitan recipe. If you’ve got a slushy machine at the house or a good way to make shaved ice, you can add in the ingredients from the recipe above to make a nice frozen cosmo. Just be sure to add simple syrup so that the sweetness won’t be lost in that wintery wonderland.
You can substitute St. Germaine elderflower liqueur for the Cointreau to make a White Cosmo. For this one, be sure to swap out the lime juice and add in the lemon. It’ll be just as citrusy without affecting the lighter color the recipe goes after. If you want to go the other way in pinkness, muddle up some frozen raspberries, and this time, go for raspberry liqueur instead of the Cointreau.
There’s a whole lot of variants out there, and we encourage you to sport your own creativity to change up the game!
Cosmos Throughout the Cosmopolitan
We are pretty sure this is hardly the first time you’ve ever heard of the cosmopolitan, even if you’ve never tasted one. It’s a favorite everywhere, from major metropolitan area Michelin-rated establishments to chain restaurants in the heartland. Superbly satisfying and forever classy, the love people have for it is reflected in pop culture. Probably nowhere else is this more the case than in the classic television series, Sex and the City.
The HBO show really put this adult beverage on the map! Carrie and the girls refer to their favorite cocktail about a million times throughout the show. That, more than anything, propelled the cosmo into the fame it enjoys today. It was such a big deal, people got sick of hearing about the cosmopolitan — but that’s changed! The drink has bounced back, and our taste buds are all the happier for it!