Best Cosmopolitan Drink Recipe – How to Make Cosmo Cocktail


For the love of god: Sex and the City happened two decades ago. And while yes, the show is still hugely present in the lives of metropolitan dwellers everywhere (including very proudly myself), and yes, one of its stars did reinvigorate the SATC conversation by marshaling up a progressive gubernatorial candidacy in New York in 2018 (we’re all Miranda wannabes now), there’s more to the Cosmopolitan than this HBO relic. Let us let go of that association.

As it stands, a Cosmo is a partly sweet, partly tart cocktail that all together tastes as electric as it looks. And its look—rich pink liquid, Martini glassware—is undeniable bold. You don’t order (or make) a Cosmo if you’re trying to be low-key. It’s an about-town kind of drink. And if you do happen to be mixing it in the privacy of your home, well, that sounds like one hell of a night to party solo. Some recipes call for citrus-flavored vodka, but unflavored vodka works just fine. Some prefer fresh lime juice to Rose’s. Just note: Any comments about its “girly-ness” are outrageous; liquor is nothing if not all-inclusive.

A Little Background

There are quite a few folks laying claim to the invention of the Cosmopolitan—or rather, popularizing a Cosmo that was more palatable than the version that had popped up in the late ’70s or early ’80s. Bartender John Caine, who’s often cited as the guy who made the Cosmo big, told Punch that the drink had ties to the gay community; he himself first came across it in Cleveland and transported the recipe (vodka, triple sec, Rose’s lime juice, and Ocean Spray cranberry juice) across the country with him to San Francisco in 1987, where it blew up. Another bartender credited with popularizing the Cosmo, Toby Cecchini, said he was shown a San Francisco version of the drink in 1988, found it disgusting, and rejiggered it for his bar in Manhattan. His version used Absolut Citron, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, and cranberry juice. There are more stories of people tweaking and disseminating Cosmo culture. Either way, the cocktail was fun, it was flirty, and drinkers were fanatic about it by the ’90s. It’s not so popular anymore, but then again, we as a society aren’t as fun and flirty as we once were.

If You Like This, Try These

The Cosmopolitan was built on the back of the Kamikaze (vodka, lime, and Triple Sec) and the Daisy (gin or tequila or brandy, some kind of flavor enhancing liqueur, some kind of citrus) and the Cape Codder (vodka, lime, cranberry juice, and club soda). It’s also reminiscent of a Side Car. If you’re in the mood for a much-mocked cocktail of the past that’s deserving of more respect, we can point you towards the Long Island Iced Tea or the Alabama Slammer.

What You Need

Here’s what you need to do a Cosmopolitan justice, beyond what you might be able to dig out of the fridge or cupboard.

Food styling by Sean Dooley
Prop styling by Emily Hirsch

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