The Cosmopolitan

A glass of easy sophistication and understated fame

The Recipe

If you want to know more, read on. If you’re just here for a recipe, here it is. Mix away, and Cheers.

  • 1 1/2 oz. Citron Vodka
  • 1/2 oz. Cointreau
  • 1/2 oz. Lime Juice
  • 1/4 oz. Cranberry Juice
  • Garnish with lime, lemon, or the peel of either

Shake all liquid ingredients until cold. Pour, and serve. Add garnish. It’s simple and easy but looks quite impressive.

The Experience

The Cosmopolitan is easily accessible sophistication with a splash of understated fame. It’s like having a standing reservation for the corner bar stool at the finest restaurant in town or being on the secret eyes-only guest list at the country club. You can go and be treated like a movie star anytime you want, but you don’t feel the need to be noticed when you get there. Rolling out the red carpet is fine, but no photographers, please.

Deep, sweet orange contrasts with sharp citrus giving you an exciting, tangy experience when you want, but letting you retreat into an anonymous soft, pink hug when you don't. Merely splash the cranberry if you want a clearer, sharper drink, measure more liberally if you prefer pert pinkness as your primary perception.

You’re not traveling, so get that experience at home.

Quiet sophistication is what you’re looking for. Nice, but understated clothing, jewelry that makes you feel good, and bar settings that make you feel talented enough for stardom while giving you room to breathe. One of the stories about the drink’s origin involves Madonna and Sandra Bernhardt having a casual lunch over several of these “pink drinks”. Imagine that you’re a rich movie star on a casual outing with a friend who doesn’t care what you’re wearing.

The History

For a drink with relatively recent history, there are a lot of opinions about its origin. Several bartenders have what seem to be valid claims suggesting that they were at least part of the innovations that led to today’s Cosmopolitan. Toby Cecchini, Dale DeGroff, Melissa Huffsmith, Cheryl Cook, Neal Murray, and Patrick Mitten are all associated in some way, and at different times and locations with innovating the cocktail, bringing it to a particular area, changing its recipe in some significant way, or moving it from a drink made for the staff to one presented to paying customers at the bar. If you’re interested, Difford’s guide can get you started on a confusing and probably fruitless journey to form your own opinion on who, in fact, started this thing.

There is also the fact that there were other drinks called a Cosmopolitan as early as 1934, but that did not have the same ingredients. Today’s version of the drink calls for Citron Vodka, which Stolichnya debuted in 1986 and Absolut in 1989.

Regardless of who poured the first one, Sex and the City is the undisputed benefactor of the citrusy pink cocktail. Synonymous in some circles with the popular show that ran for six seasons, the drink has become associated with young, beautiful women having the sort of life that people like to watch on television. If you are, want to be, or want to be with one of those people, then you should learn to make this drink.

Okay, so let’s pour it already.

You need to use citrus-flavored vodka. The other ingredients need some flavor to gather around and a true neutral spirit just isn’t the same. Cranberry juice cocktail is also a requirement for both sweetness and color.

The proportions are a little different depending on where you look or who you ask. Liquor.com says 1 1/2 oz. Vodka, 1 oz. Cointreau, 1/2 oz. Lime Juice, and a dash of Cranberry which works out to 5:4:2 and 1 dash. The International Bartender’s Association (IBA) says 8:3:3:6 and lists everything in metric for a very pink, but also very delicious drink. Difford’s guide lists several recipes including two from the people named above who have legitimate claims to the drink’s origin. Tony Cecchini says 2:1:1:1, Dale Degroff says he has the “definitive recipe” at 6:2:1:4.

So, of course, I experimented. After an enjoyable red-carpet-type evening with the Covid-bubble neighbors, I settled on the recipe above which makes a drink with nice pink color and a balanced flavor. Its ratio comes out to 6:2:2:1.

Of course, these are one man’s opinions and sanctioned only by me and those who drink at my home bar. But, if you feel like a little quiet sophistication, then mix up some cranberry-flavored semi fame for yourself. Cheeeeehs Daaahling.

Loves writing, loves teaching, and loves his 7-year-old daughter. All of which are potential topics of hopefully entertaining posts.

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