Yeah, we know—but it tastes really good
Is there any drink with more cultural baggage than the Cosmopolitan (aka the Cosmo)? With its girly pink hue—not to mention its status as signature drink on Sex and the City—it seems that no self-respecting cocktail connoisseur would be caught dead drinking it.
Which is too bad, because it’s quite a refreshing cocktail. It’s great by the pool in the summer heat. Or as a pre-dinner treat.
So if you’ve never had a Cosmo—and despite its popularity, many people haven’t (that baggage thing, you know)—maybe now is the time to give it a try. Because real men (and women) aren’t put off by a little snark.
Recipe: The Cosmopolitan Cocktail
The Cosmo we know today combines citron vodka with Cointreau, cranberry juice, and fresh lime juice. But like many drinks, this one seems to have evolved over time. More about that in the Notes.
Our favorite recipe is one perfected by Dale DeGroff. Although DeGroff didn’t invent the Cosmo, he probably did as much as anyone to popularize the drink.
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and serves 1.
- 1½ ounces citron vodka (see Notes)
- ½ ounce Cointreau (see Notes)
- 1 ounce cranberry juice (or cranberry juice cocktail; see Notes)
- ¼ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- lime wheel or wedge for garnish (optional)
- Combine all ingredients (except garnish) in a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice. Shake briskly until the drink is cold (20 seconds or so).
- Strain into a champagne coupe (see Notes) or a cocktail glass, preferably one that’s been chilled. Garnish, if you wish, with a lime wheel or wedge. Serve and enjoy.
- We shake (rather than stir) this drink because it contains citrus juice. Shaking does a much better job of incorporating citrus.
- We like to serve this drink in a champagne coupe—a broad-bowled stemmed glass (sometimes called a champagne saucer). But a regular cocktail (Martini) glass works just fine. Just make sure to serve this in a stemmed glass.
- Citron vodka, as the name suggests, has a lemony flavor. It probably was invented by the folks at Absolut, a Swedish company. We use their brand of citron vodka for this drink, but there are others out there if you want to experiment. Our usual reminder: This blog is noncommercial, and we don’t get compensated for mentioning brands. We buy our booze with our own money, and recommend only what we like.
- Cointreau, an orange-flavored liqueur, is a premium triple sec. You can find less expensive triple secs at most liquor stores, but we prefer the taste of Cointreau.
- Most supermarkets carry both cranberry juice and “cranberry juice cocktail.” Cranberry juice is almost always sold in sweetened form, so it usually tastes much the same as cranberry juice cocktail. Either one works in this drink.
- BTW, some recipes for the Cosmo use very little cranberry juice—just enough to color the drink. We like a good slug of cranberry, although that does darken the hue of the drink a bit. If you prefer a very pale shade of pink, use just a few drops of cranberry juice.
- The original Cosmo recipe apparently used Rose’s lime juice instead of fresh lime juice. Rose’s has a very distinctive (and sweet) taste. We love it in the Gimlet, but we don’t think it works in a Cosmo. If you’re curious, however, here’s one recipe for an “original” Cosmo: 2 ounces citron vodka, 1 ounce Cointreau, 1 ounce cranberry juice, and 1 ounce Rose’s lime juice. We find this version of the drink to be cloyingly sweet, so you’ve been warned.
- How did the Cosmo come to be? As is so often the case with cocktails, the origins of this drink are disputed. Over the years, several different bartenders have been credited with inventing it. Mixologist extraordinare Gary Regan seems certain that it was created by Cheryl Cook sometime during the 1980s.
- Cook was a bartender in Miami’s South Beach. The drink she named The Cosmopolitan apparently started as a riff on the Kamikaze Cocktail (which contains plain vodka, triple sec, and fresh lime juice). She substituted citron vodka and Rose’s lime juice, then added cranberry juice for color.
- The Cosmo we know today was probably developed by New York bartender Toby Cecchini. He ditched Rose’s for fresh lime juice and used Cointreau instead of a less pricy triple sec. Cecchini saw promise in the original drink, but recognized that it just didn’t taste as good as it could (it’s really the Rose’s that creates a problem, in our opinion).
- Some commentators credit Dale DeGroff with inventing the drink, but DeGroff says he merely helped popularize it. He put it on the menu at the Rainbow Room in New York City in the 1990s. One evening, someone spotted Madonna there sipping a Cosmo, and the drink went viral.
- BTW, when DeGroff serves a Cosmo, he garnishes it with flamed orange peel. That’s impressive, but too fussy for us. We’ll stick with a lime wheel or wedge.
“Who knew frou-frou could taste so good?” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Love the rosy color of this drink.”
“Yup,” I said. “Tastes swell too. I’m tickled pink.”
“May want to make this the last round though,” said Mrs K R. “Otherwise we could start seeing pink elephants.”
“And then you might have to hand this bartender a pink slip,” I said.
“Nah,” said Mrs K R. “I’d just let you sleep it off till you’re back in the pink.”
“You have such a rosy disposition,” I said. “So maybe I should just keep pouring—since I can count on you to tuck me in.”
“Sure,” said Mrs K R. “In footie jammies and a fluffy baby blanket. You’d look pretty in pink.”
Maybe I’ll make this the last round after all.
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