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.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Classic Daiquiri Cocktail
Pink Lady Cocktail
Or check out the index for more
I have no qualms about ordering a cosmo! They are delish! And your version looks perfect.
I like Cosmopolitans and have for years. I didn't like them because they were 'popular' and I don't now avoid them because they have lost some of that favor. Probably my favorite cocktail to serve when I'm having a girls nite at my home because...EVERYONE loves them!
As for Rose's vs real lime...yep...real lime for the win! I should have invested in limes a couple of years ago; I personally use enough to have made a killing. :)
Had to chuckle. I tried that flaming orange business once; maybe for another cocktail but decided No Thank You!
Hi Liz, great cocktail, isn't it? And deserves to be popular. Although I'm often surprised at how many people haven't tried it. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Barb, when we lived in Florida we had a lime tree! Wonderful investment. ;-) That flaming orange stuff is . . . interesting. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I have always always loved a great Cosmo. It's elegant, it's pretty and it is so me.
Hi Ansh, it is an elegant and pretty drink, isn't it? So you! :-) Thanks for the comment.
As you might have guessed, I've never tried a Cosmo :)
It sure is a gorgeous pink though. All your cocktails are beautiful, makes me want to take up drinking ;)
Hi Nazneen, isn't that a great pink? Fun to look at, even if you're not imbibing. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
First time I see a cocktail here I actually know lol. Loved the Cosmo and of course discovered it during the height of Sex and the City. And I have abandoned it but it is truly worth a revisit. Thanks for the reminder and gorgeous shots.
I've never had a Cosmo but when you invite me to a pool party at your house, I'll request one. I love the color and your photographs, as usual, are stunning. Thanks for sharing, Rocquie
It may be a girlie drink, but I always find it good. I prefer mine less sweet so it is good to know the difference. I'd be tickled pink to have one in front of me right now!
What a lovely drink to spotlight on your blog this week. I have had Cosmopolitan's before and they are good. I really like the fact that you add more cranberry to the drink. I enjoy more of the cranberry flavor. Love your notes, you always give such great information. That must be very impressive with the garnish of a flamed orange peel. Like you, I think the lime wedge or wheel is just fine. A terrific post and this drink would be very refreshing for a hot summer day! Have a wonderful rest of the week...
I've ordered a Cosmo before, but have never made one at home. Did not know that is had Cointreau as an ingredient. I've always been a sucker for any drink with cranberry juice. Thanks for sharing this John!
Hi Pam, it is! ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Evelyne, this is definitely worth a revisit -- it's a nice warm weather drink. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Rocquie, this is a fun drink. Good flavor, outstanding color. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Abbe, one of these will put you in the pink! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Dottie, this is definitely a better drink IMO with more rather than less cranberry juice. And that flamed orange thing, although impressive, is just too much! Thanks for the comment.
Hi MJ, this isn't one of our "regular" drinks, but it's a fun one to have sometimes. Particularly during the warm weather! Thanks for the comment.
Cheers to you, John... for this gorgeous, delicious cocktail!
I am drawn to a pretty coloured cocktail but I stop short at midori (hate that shade of green). I do wish I hadn't had a very dire experience with Cointreau many years ago - that has given this cocktail some baggage for me!
Hi John, I have never had a cosmo but next time we go out I will change that, this drink is so pretty and it sounds delicious!
Haha, maybe I'm a frou-frou girl but this is so pretty to me and sounds super delish!
Hi Denise, isn't this nice? Cheers! And thanks for the comment.
Hi Charlie, I know people who've had bad experiences with gin or tequila, but Cointreau is a new one for me! Too bad, because its flavor is lovely. :-( Thanks for the comment.
Hi Cheri, it's really a pretty drink. And tasty! Enjoy. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Chris, it really is a pretty drink! Good taste, too, but its appearance is the distinguishing thing about this drink to me. Thanks for the comment.
This drink looks and sounds so refreshing. I must be living under a rock because I've never had one! I don't care about the color - its purdy!
I must now turn on SEX & THE CITY! I wonder if this in-flight entertainment has a few episodes! ;)
Hi Tricia, you'll enjoy this when you have a chance to sample it! And it really is purdy, isn't it? ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi GiGi, ah, you're on your flight to Taiwan, I see. Who knows what wonders in-flight entertainment contains? :-) Thanks for the comment.
A class, and yet I've never tasted one. Clearly I have not yet lived! : )
Hi Liz, one of those drinks you want to take off your "bucket" list. ;-) Really worth trying. Thanks for the comment.
I've never had one. During the kids "growing up" years, we would relax with a beer or a glass of wine and call it a day. Because - you just had to pour it in a glass. We have recently become interested in cocktails. This sounds so refreshing for the hot July days. Ironically, I was a fill-in bartender years ago - and today - cannot remember the recipes for drinks! Will be doing this tomorrow - for our cocktail on the patio/Friday eve night!
Hi Claudia, we usually do a cocktail every Friday too! It's when we do our "research" for our drink posts. ;-) Enjoy this one -- it's a goodie. Thanks for the comment.
I love Cosmos! They are my go-to drink - always!
Such a classic but I've never attempted to make one myself, I should give it a try!
Such a classic drink. I've definitely enjoyed a few! I didn't know shaking incorporates citrus better than stirring. Great tip.
Hi John , I love cosmos, ordered them each time I went out ,so refreshing and pretty , now I know how to make them at home ,thanks . Going on vacation be back in September ...my favorite salad recipe will be posted tomorrow morning .
Taking my lappy with me ,,. that way I will have all the cocktails at my fingertips .
Thanks for sharing John . Nee :)
Hi Ashley, good choice! Really nice drink, isn't it? Thanks for the comment.
Hi Caroline, this really is worth trying. And it's fun to make! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Laura, this really is a classic, isn't it? And a delicious one! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Nee, have a great vacation! Will look for your salad recipe -- can't wait to see what it is. Thanks for the comment.
I always think of "Sex and The City'' when I think of a Cosmo. It's the ultimate girly drink -- in the best sense. Makes me want to sip one the next time I'm channel-surfing and stumble upon those wonderful reruns. ;)
Hi Carolyn, this really is the ultimate girly drink. And I also mean that in the best sense. :-) Really good stuff! Thanks for your comment.
Ahhhh, the classic Cosmo. Always goes down a treat at my work, the members are old school and not up to speed on whats cool and what isn't. LOL! I personally dont much care for the taste, but do enjoy their pretty in pink look. Maybe my taste buds will learn to love one of these days.
Ah, the memories this brings back.....snarkiness and frou-frou aside, it's a great drink.
Hi Anna, not our favorite drink, but neither one of us can resist a drink that contains citrus of any kind, particularly lime. And its looks are outstanding! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Debra, this is a classic, and deserves to be. Nice flavor, wonderful looks! Thanks for the comment.
I actually don't mind a cosmo every once in awhile but I am sure yours is much better than anything I have ever been served. Your attention to detail and just the right amount of each ingredient to make me tickled pink!!!! Gorgeous stunning photos so can't wait to pin this one on my Drink Board. Happy Friday to you and cheers!!!
Hi Bam, happy to tickle you pink. :-) Happy Friday, and thanks for the comment.
Shhh. I'd drink it at home. I might even drink it at a friend's house. But I'd never be seen in a bar with one in my hand. Except maybe if I were in New York and my name was Carrie (insert smiley face here). GREG
Hi Greg, LOL! I have to admit I've only had homemade Cosmos -- never tried one out. And doubt if I ever will. :-) Thanks for the comment.
John! This cocktail rocks! I would probably drink 5 at once....Brings back good memories :)
Hi Marcela, 5! You know how to party. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
"Girly pink" coming from John sounds really fancy ;) Love the labeling, love the colour, love the tips! Cheers!!
Julie & Alesah
Gourmet Getaways xx
This is such a beautiful drink, I've not had a cosmopolitan before, but it's definitely time I change that!
I'm smitten by the idea of a flaming orange peel, and am racking my brain for ways to incorporate it in today's menu. Maybe not - but I still love it! Thanks for sharing this classic recipe.
Everybody loves Cosmo!
Hi Julie and Alesah, easy drink to love, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Beth, the flaming orange peel is way cool! But kind of a pain (we have, of course, tried it!). Very dramatic, though. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Peachy, it's a good drink, isn't it? And deserves to be popular! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Jasline, it really is a pretty drink. And definitely time you had one! ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Funny you mention it, I have been watching so much Sex and the City lately!! :D Great cocktail!
Hi Kristi, next time you watch, you owe it to yourself to sip on one of these. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Cosmo remains my favorite cocktail. I remember once being totally drunk on two of those at a high end restaurant, and had taken a keen interest in counting all the street lights on our way back home. My husband never lets me forget it, hahaha!
Hi Minnie, LOL! That's a great story! Fitting for such a fun drink. ;-) thanks for the comment.
Another gorgeous cocktail and photo. I just want to dive right in! Of course, I still love me a good Cosmo. ;)
haven;t had a Cosmo in forever but I could go one right now - despite it being 10.01am. On a Tuesday.
Hi Pamela, Cosmos are good, aren't they? Glad to sample them again! Thanks for the comment.
Hi HungryMum, 10 AM on a Friday, sure. On a Tuesday? Better wait until noon. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Haha, as soon as I read the title I heard the Sex and the City theme music in my head. I don't care if the cocktail is passé now, I love it. Thanks John!
HI Nancy, it's a fun drink! Good taste, excellent color. ;-) Thanks for the comment.
Your first photo is just outstanding but then of course no one does cocktail photos as good as you. I used to order a cosmo before dinner when we went out but most bartenders make it too sweet for my taste and if they use Triple Sec they are even sweeter. I'm one of those who like just a splash of both cranberry and Cointreau in mine.
Hi Karen, aw, thanks so much for that very kind comment!
The black background of your cosmopolitan cocktail is making very very sexy... I can't stop looking at it :p
Looks like you have another delicious cocktail. I love the cranberry juice and lime in this one. Sounds like it would be really refreshing.
Hi Zoe, those black backgrounds are fun, aren't they? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Dawn, this truly is a refreshing drink. Very lively flavor. Thanks for the comment.
I read the title and immediately got reminded of my favorite serial.
Love the pink hue and a good cosmo. This is a stunner, need to write this down. It looks fresh and amazing.
Hi Asha, it's really a nice drink -- super good looks, lively flavor. Thanks for the comment.
The last time I was out to dinner with my husband I ordered a Cosmo. Very unusual selection for me, but I had recently gotten caught up in a Sex and the City marathon on late night cable and the curiosity was killing me. It's a great drink! Absolutely love your pics
Hi Marcelle, really fun drink, isn't it? Both tastes and looks great! Thanks for the comment.
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