Cosmopolitan Cocktail

Cosmopolitan Cocktail

The show Sex and the City popularized the Cosmopolitan cocktail, informally referred to as a Cosmo. It is easily identifiable due to its pink tint and the fact that it is served in a distinctive martini glass.

Basic Ingredients

Cosmopolitan cocktails consist of vodka, cranberry juice, orange liqueur and lime juice. A Cosmo is shaken and served straight up in a martini glass and is typically garnished with a lime wedge or peel.

History of the Cosmopolitan Cocktail

The Cosmopolitan was likely created in the 1970s. One variation originates from Provincetown, Massachusetts. Other variations have been attributed to:

  • Neal Murray of the Cork & Cleaver Steakhouse in Minneapolis
  • John Caine, who owned several bars in San Francisco
  • Cherly Cook, a Florida bartender
  • Toby Cecchini, a bartender at The Odeon in Manhattan.

The drink rose to popularity in the 1990s thanks to HBO's series Sex and the City. The Cosmopolitan cocktail was main character Carrie Bradshaw's drink of choice. Not surprisingly, its pink hue has made it very popular with women, but the drink has gained a stigma in recent years. Some people view Cosmos as a "girly" drink, or one that is ordered under the false pretense of sophistication. However, a properly made Cosmo isn't overly sweet or fruity, but rather a slightly tart and well-balanced cocktail.

Tips for Making a Great Cosmo

First, begin with a chilled martini glass. If you didn't have time in advance to stash the glass in the freezer, fill it with ice cubes and set it aside while you prepare the cocktail. Choose a decent vodka. It isn't necessary to use top of the line vodka like Grey Goose or Ketel One unless you prefer, but something mid-range like Stolichnaya is adequate.

While standard triple sec will work for the orange liqueur, splurging on Cointreau or Grand Marnier will result in a tastier cocktail. Use cranberry juice sparingly, and purchase unsweetened juice. Its main purpose is to provide with drink with its appealing pink hue. Adding too much will overpower the other ingredients, resulting in an overly tart and fruity drink rather than an elegant cocktail worthy of Carrie, Samantha and the rest of the SATC gang.

Use fresh lime juice if at all possible rather than substitutes such as Rose's lime juice that contain extra sugar. Combine and shake all ingredients together in a metal martini shaker along with ice, but be sure not to over shake the drink. The goal is to mix the ingredients and cool them down. If you store your vodka in the freezer and your juices in the refrigerator, your shaking time should be even less. Strain and pour the cocktail into your frosty martini glass and garnish.

Variations on the Cosmo

Like most cocktails, Cosmopolitans will vary by bar and bartender. Many have taken liberties with the original recipe and have come up with creative variations:

  • Some recipes call for citrus infused vodka to add a kick.
  • A blue Cosmopolitan includes white cranberry juice with blue curacao instead of orange liqueur.
  • The Cosmocello is an Italian-themed interpretation that substitutes limoncello in place of lime juice.
  • Rum replaces vodka in the Barbados Cosmopolitan.
  • For a pick-me-up, coffee-flavored vodka is used in a Cosmopolitan Morning.

Alternative Garnishes

While a slice or wedge of lime is the most common Cosmopolitan garnish, it is occasionally served with a lemon garnish, typically a thin and curly peel of rind or a small disc of orange peel that is sometimes lit on fire for a dramatic effect.


When ordering a Cosmopolitan at a bar, don't be afraid to specify which type of vodka and orange liqueur you prefer, just as you would for a regular vodka martini. While it may be pink, this is a cocktail to be taken seriously.

Cosmopolitan Cocktail