Creating the Cosmopolitan
As is the case with many cocktails, there are several competing origin stories about the invention of the Cosmopolitan. While the drink exploded in popularity during the 1980s and 1990s, it’s believed that it may have been unofficially created pre-World War II as a variation on the Vodka Gimlet. Since the quality of well vodka was typically poor, bartenders often added other mixers that were on hand to improve the drink’s flavor.
While the cocktail may have inadvertently been made before, New York bar owner Toby Cecchini is widely credited with inventing the modern-day Cosmopolitan while working at the Odeon in downtown Manhattan. According to Cecchini, the story began in 1988 when a visitor from San Francisco introduced him to a cocktail called the Cosmopolitan made with vodka, lime juice, and grenadine. The drink looked pretty but tasted awful, so Cecchini went to work on reconstructing the recipe.
He took inspiration from several of the ingredients the bar used in its Margaritas – fresh lime juice and Cointreau – and combined them with the newly introduced Absolut Citron, a lemon-flavored vodka. A splash of cranberry juice was added as a substitute for the color provided by the grenadine in the previous recipe, and thus, the modern Cosmopolitan was born.
Representation in Pop Culture
After Cecchini introduced the Cosmopolitan at the Odeon in the late 1980s, it quickly became a huge hit. At the time, the bar was a popular hot spot for celebrities, including Madonna, Andy Warhol, and Robert DeNiro. Madonna was reportedly one of the cocktail’s biggest fans early on, often ordering the “pink drink” when visiting the Odeon.
But the drink arguably received its biggest pop culture representation in the hit HBO series Sex and the City. The Cosmopolitan first appeared in the second episode of season two of the show, which aired in 1999. While its debut on the show was subtle, the cocktail’s continued reappearance in future episodes soon transformed it into a symbol of the series.
There have been a number of theories proposed as to how the Cosmopolitan became Carrie Bradshaw’s signature drink. One of the prevailing theories is that the cocktail is the female counterpart to the Martini, which has become synonymous with James Bond and his alpha-male persona.
The Cosmopolitan is a fairly simple cocktail to make, so it’s a good option for beginners looking to make their own drinks at home. To mix up the classic recipe, combine 1.5 ounces of Absolut Citron vodka, 0.75 ounces of Cointreau, 0.75 ounces of freshly squeezed lime juice, and 0.5 ounces of cranberry juice cocktail into a shaker with ice. Shake until it’s well chilled, then strain it into a cocktail glass. Then, garnish the drink with a lime wedge and it’s ready to serve.
There are also several variations on the classic recipe for those looking to switch things up. One of the most popular variants is the White Cosmopolitan. This drink is made with a similar recipe, however, the Cointreau is swapped out for St-Germain elderflower liqueur, and the red cranberry juice is replaced by white cranberry juice. As the name suggests, the end result is a cloudy, white drink rather than the original’s signature pink color.
And some have taken even more creative liberties with the classic recipe. For example, the restaurant chain TGI Fridays introduced the Cotton Candy Cosmo, made with vodka, cranberry juice, and pineapple juice, which is poured over a piece of cotton candy for added sweetness.
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