There’s no doubt the Cosmopolitan introduced an entire generation into the world of brunch and playful cocktails. Certainly it’s at least partly responsible for helping launch the cocktail revolution.
History of the Cosmopolitan
Over the decades, the Cosmopolitan as we know it has seen several variations in the hands of many bartenders from Massachusetts, San Francisco, and Florida. However, it was the cocktail’s popularity in New York and its subsequent appearance on Sex and the City that raised the Cosmopolitan to iconic status. Likewise, that also meant bartenders in the early 2000s had a 100% chance of overhearing women discussing which of them was the Carrie and which was the Samantha.
Cosmopolitan Tasting Notes
The Cosmopolitan’s juicy tartness balances against slightly syrupy sweet orange, with a zesty citrus aroma.
1 ½ oz Vodka: An affordable to mid-range vodka works well.
¾ oz Cointreau: An orange-flavored triple sec liqueur.
¾ oz Cranberry juice: Any high-quality brand cranberry juice should do.
½ Lime juice: We love fresh citrus! Pro tip: when choosing lemons or limes, heavier fruits with thinner skins that give a little when squeezed will yield more juice.
Lemon twist: As a garnish.
Fill a mixing glass with ice
Pour 1 ½ oz Vodka
Pour ¾ oz Cointreau
Pour ¾ oz Cranberry
Pour ½ Lime juice
Shake for 10 to 15 seconds
Strain into a cocktail glass
Garnish with the lemon twist
Even today the recipe for a Cosmopolitan may vary from bar to bar, with bartenders putting their own interesting spin on the cocktail.
Changing the ratio of ingredients can lean the flavor toward sweet or sour. For a sweeter cocktail, increase the amount of Cointreau while reducing the amount of lime and cranberry juice, and vice versa for a more tart version.
Use equal parts Cointreau and Chambord for a touch of raspberry/black currant flavor and a deep purple hue.
Instead of Cointreau, use Grand Marnier (known as a French Cosmopolitan, see Substitutions below)
A spritz of club soda before garnishing adds a slightly bubbly, effervescent touch.
If cocktail glasses are a little unwieldy or impractical, serve in a highball glass filled with ice.
Instead of Cointreau, use Grand Marnier, Gran Gala, or Patrón Citrónge Orange if you’re feeling extra.
Use different flavored vodkas such as raspberry, citrus, or orange for fun flavor combinations. Some argue a true Cosmopolitan must be made with citrus vodka, such as Absolut Citron.
Use white cranberry juice for a White Cosmo.
Substitute an orange twist or a lime wheel rather than a lemon twist.
If squeezing limes is impractical for your purposes, consider using high-quality mixes from Cocktail Artist.
When to Serve Cosmopolitans
The Cosmopolitan brings a touch of fabulosity to any occasion. Often it brings a lot more than a touch.
Hosting parties: The Cosmopolitan is appropriate for both casual and formal parties.
Girls’ night, bridal showers, and bachelorette parties: Not to needlessly gender the cocktail, but the Cosmopolitan’s association to Sex and the City will forever link it to girls’ night.
By the beach/pool: We say by the pool/beach because laying out in the sun with a Cosmopolitan is enjoyable. In contrast, clutching desperately to a Cosmopolitan while water skiing is probably less so.
What to Serve with Cosmopolitans
The Cosmopolitan complements bright acidic foods. Moreover, it can also provide pleasant contrast to richer dishes.
Savory snacks and small plates, especially soft cheeses and crackers, and bruschetta.
Light to medium-bodied seafood, such as shrimp cocktail, calamari, ceviche, or sushi.