Similar to the Margarita many people lay claim to having invented the Cosmopolitan cocktail. The oldest know written reference to it comes from the 1934 book Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars. Other than the name and a light pink hue, this is a somewhat different drink. The 1934 recipe is a Jigger of Gordon’s Gin, 2 dash Cointreau, Juice of 1 Lemon, and 1 tsp Raspberry Syrup. while many have claimed to invented the Cosmo, the internationally recognized one was invented by Toby Cecchini.
The Cosmopolitan is not a very old cocktail, it was invented in New York in 1987 by Toby Cecchini while he was working at The Odeon. Toby’s Cosmo was a huge hit and it quickly spread across New York and eventually caught national attention once celebrities started getting photographed drinking New York’s coolest new bright pink cocktail. It gets its distinctive color from the single ounce of cranberry juice that’s added. The Cosmopolitan enjoyed mild fame throughout the mid 90s but that changed once Sex and the City aired in 1998. The fictional character Carrie Bradshaw’s favorite cocktail turned the Cosmopolitan into an overnight superstar.
Women wanting to imitate Carrie became obsessed with this cocktail. Sadly just as fast as it became the hot new drink to have it became associated with trashy rich girls and a social faux pas to order. Which is unfortunate because this is a wonderful drink.
The Cosmopolitan is a very tasty cocktail. It is actually quite strong (around 25% abv) and not overly sweet. It gets its distinctive bright pink color from the single ounce of cranberry juice that’s added. This adds a slightly sweet and tart red fruit flavor to the cocktail that is structurally a vodka daisy. In fact, if made properly, a Cosmo taste more like a cranberry margarita than anything else and is just as strong. Sadly though it is a bit of a faux pas to order and is seen as being a “girly” drink with a promiscuous connotation associated with it. Again independent of history the Cosmopolitan cocktail is anything but that but it can’t escape the image it’s been given.
There really isn’t any best vodka to use with this. The whole idea about mixing with vodka is the spirit should be invisible to the other flavors and even most cheap to middle of the road vodkas taste fine. I just wouldn’t use any really expensive or nice vodka.
The most important ingredient
The most important ingredient in a Cosmopolitan is the orange liqueur. Cointreau, grand mariner, curaçao, and triple sec are all the same ingredient. They are all orange liqueurs. The reason for all the different names is either due to brand names or marketing gimmicks. What is important though is to try them all and find one you like and stick with it. Personally I like the clear, dry, bright orange flavor of Cointreau the best and I use it in the Cosmopolitan. Also Grand Mariner’s base spirit is aged brandy so it has a brown tint to it and Cointreau is clear. If you use grand Mariner in this cocktail it will have a muddy pink color instead of bright pink. For the appearance to look right use Cointreau or another clear orange liqueur. There are many other orange liqueurs that are good but I have not found one for under $20 that I liked. Any in the sub $10 range are garbage. I love a deal and try not to spend more than is reasonable but orange liqueur is one ingredient you can not get cheap.