Cosmopolitan – Original Recipe & History

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How to make a cosmopolitan


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Course: DrinksCuisine: American






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Learn how to make the Cosmopolitan Cocktail. A Classic New York Cocktail that is as delicious as it is beautiful.


  • 2/3 oz 20 ml Lime Juice

  • 1 oz 30 ml Cranberry Juice

  • 1 oz 30 ml Orange Liqueur

  • 2 oz 60 ml Citrus Favored Vodka


  • Technique: Saxe Soda Shake
  • Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker.
  • Add one medium or two small ice cubes to the cocktail shaker and shake until the ice fully melts.
  • Without a strainer, pour the chilled and aerated drink into a glass.

Recipe Video


The History Of The Cosmopolitan.

Like the Margarita, many people claim to have invented the Cosmopolitan cocktail. The oldest known written reference to it comes from the 1934 book Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars. This is a somewhat different drink other than the name and a light pink hue. The 1934 recipe is a Jigger of Gordon’s Gin, two dash Cointreau, Juice of 1 Lemon, and 1 tsp Raspberry Syrup. While many have claimed to invent the Cosmo, the internationally recognized one was created by Toby Cecchini.

The Cosmopolitan is not a very old cocktail; it was invented in New York in 1987 by Toby Cecchini while working at The Odeon. Toby’s Cosmo was a huge hit. It quickly spread across New York and eventually caught national attention once celebrities started getting photographed drinking New York’s fabulous new bright pink cocktail. It gets its distinctive color from the single ounce of cranberry juice 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, it became associated with trashy rich girls and a social faux pas to order. This is unfortunate because this is a beautiful drink.

What Does The Cosmopolitan Taste Like?

The Cosmopolitan is a delicious cocktail. It is pretty strong (around 25% abv) and not overly sweet. It gets its distinctive bright pink color from the single ounce of cranberry juice added. This adds a slightly sweet and tart red fruit flavor to the cocktail that is structurally a vodka daisy. A Cosmo tastes more like a cranberry margarita than anything else and is just as strong if made correctly. Sadly, it is a bit of a faux pas to order and is seen as a “girly” drink with a promiscuous connotation. Again independent of history, the Cosmopolitan cocktail is anything but that, but it can’t escape the image it’s been given.

There 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 the middle of the road, vodka tastes fine. I wouldn’t use expensive or nice vodka.

Should The Cosmopolitan Be Made With Orange Liqueur, Curaçao, Or Triple Sec?

The essential ingredient in a Cosmopolitan is the orange liqueur. Cointreau, grand mariner, curaçao, and triple sec are the same ingredients. They are all orange liqueurs. All the different names are either due to brand names or marketing gimmicks. However, it is essential to try them all and find one you like, and stick with it. I like Cointreau’s clean, dry, bright orange flavor the best, and I use it in the Cosmopolitan. Also, Grand Mariner’s base spirit is aged brandy, so it has a brown tint, 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 proper, use Cointreau or another clear orange liqueur. Many other orange liqueurs 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.

Tools Used:

Download the free Vintage American Cocktail app.

See what you can make with what you have.

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