Cosmopolitan (cocktail)

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IBA Official Cocktail
Cosmopolitan (5076906532).jpg
A cosmopolitan garnished with a lemon twist
Type Cocktail
Primary alcohol by volume
Served Straight up; without ice
Standard garnish

Lemon slice, lime wedge

Standard drinkware
Cocktail Glass (Martini).svg
Cocktail glass
IBA specified ingredients*
Preparation Add all ingredients into cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and double strain into large cocktail glass. Garnish with lime wheel.
Notes The drink should be a frothy bright pink color
* Cosmopolitan recipe at International Bartenders Association
My first Cosmo.jpg
A cosmopolitan

A cosmopolitan, or informally a cosmo, is a cocktail made with vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, and freshly squeezed or sweetened lime juice.


The International Bartenders Association recipe is based on vodka citron, lemon-flavored vodka.[1] The cosmopolitan is a relative of cranberry coolers like the Cape Codder.[2] Though often presented far differently, the cosmopolitan also bears a likeness in composition to the kamikaze cocktail.

The origin of the cosmopolitan is disputed. It is widely believed that the drink was created independently by different bartenders since the 1970s.[3] Generally, people have recognized that John Caine brought the drink to San Francisco around 1987 from Ohio.[4][5] The same year in Manhattan, the internationally recognized version of the cocktail was created by Toby Cecchini, based on a poorly described version of Cheryl Cook's creation.[6] According to Sally Ann Berk and Bob Sennett, the cosmopolitan appears in literature as early as 1993 and derives from New York City.[7][8][9][10]

The 1930s[edit]

While this cocktail is widely perceived to be a more modern creation, there is, it seems, a strikingly similar recipe for a cosmopolitan which appears in Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars 1903-1933, which was published in 1934.

Jigger of Gordon's Gin (1 12 oz Beefeater)
2 dash Cointreau (12 oz Cointreau)
Juice of 1 Lemon (1 oz Lemon Juice)
1 tsp Raspberry Syrup (1 tsp homemade)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Made with ingredients that would have been readily available during the period, this identically named cocktail aims for the same effect. If this drink is in fact the source of the modern cosmopolitan then it would be an adaption of a Daisy rather than a Kamikaze.[11][12][13][14]

The 1970s[edit]


One version of the creation of this popular drink credits the accomplishment to the gay community in Provincetown, Massachusetts.[3]


Neal Murray claims to have created the cosmopolitan in 1975 at the Cork & Cleaver steak house in Minneapolis. According to Murray, he added a splash of cranberry juice to a Kamikaze and the first taster declared, "How cosmopolitan."[15] This event supposedly led to the naming of the new beverage.

John Caine[edit]

John Caine is the owner of several popular bars in San Francisco and a cosmopolitan expert. He partially credits the upsurge in cocktails during the 1970s to the Cosmo being served at fern bars.[3] Caine is credited with bringing the Cosmo west from Cleveland.

Cheryl Cook[edit]

There are a number of other claims made as to the origin of the cosmopolitan. Cocktail historian Gary Regan credits bartender Cheryl Cook of the Strand Restaurant in South Beach, Florida with the original creation.[2][3] Some people think that Cook is a mythical character,[3][6] but in a letter to Regan, Cook related the story of how she created the drink in 1985 or 1986:[6]

What overwhelmed me was the number of people who ordered Martinis just to be seen with a Martini glass in their hand. It was on this realization that gave me the idea to create a drink that everyone could palate and was visually stunning in that classic glass. This is what the Cosmo was based on.

Cook's original recipes called for "Absolut Citron, a splash of Triple sec, a drop of Rose's lime and just enough cranberry to make it oh so pretty in pink."[6] Although Absolut Citron was not introduced anywhere officially until 1988, it was test marketed in Miami.

Melissa Huffsmith[edit]

Another important person involved in the creation of the cosmopolitan was Melissa Huffsmith of Manhattan. While working at The Odeon in 1987/1988, her friend Patrick Mullen had tasted a version of the drink in Miami and she developed a slightly different version using Absolut Citron, Cointreau and fresh-squeezed lime juice. Huffsmith stated that the color should be "....just barely pink—the color of pink lemonade." Huffsmith's version has become an internationally standardized method for preparing the drink.[1]


The cosmopolitan gained popularity quickly, traveling from Provincetown, through New York, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, and on to San Francisco (Caine[4]) or possibly from Miami to San Francisco, and on to New York (Cook[6]).

The cosmopolitan gained popularity in the 1990s. It was further popularized among young women by its frequent mention on the television program Sex and the City, where Sarah Jessica Parker's character, Carrie Bradshaw, commonly ordered the drink when out with her girlfriends. The film adaptation made a reference to its popularity when Miranda asks why they stopped drinking them, Carrie replies "because everyone else started."

It is not only in television that the Cosmo has influenced popular culture. Demeter Fragrance Library has created a cologne intended to smell like the cosmopolitan cocktail.

Preparation and serving[edit]

The cosmopolitan is usually served in a large cocktail glass, also called a martini glass. For this reason, the drink is mistakenly categorized as a type of martini.

The use of citrus flavored vodka as the basis for this cocktail appears to have been widely popularized in the mid 1990s by Dale DeGroff[16] and is used in the IBA approved recipe. However, many bartenders continue to use a standard unflavored vodka and this alternative would undoubtedly be historically consistent with any of the supposed predecessors of this drink that were popular in Ohio, Provincetown, or Minneapolis during the 1970s, or in San Francisco during the 1980s.[17][18][19][20] A lemon twist is sometimes used to garnish.


A cosmo-flavored cupcake with lime, vodka, lime juice soaked cranberries, lime buttercream on vanilla cake from Dozen Bake Shop in Pittsburgh.
  • One variation is to squeeze a lime wedge into the chilled cocktail glass instead of including it with the ingredients to be shaken.
  • The original non-IBA versions used Rose's lime cordial instead of fresh lime juice, and Triple Sec instead of Cointreau, and uses different proportions[1]
  • A white cosmopolitan may be made by using white cranberry juice instead of standard red juice, a purple cosmopolitan by using blue curaçao in place of the triple sec, and a blue cosmopolitan by replacing both.
  • A Cosmocello substitutes limoncello for the lime juice.
  • A Francillian, popularized in Fontainebleau, France in 2010, substitutes sangria for cranberry juice.
  • Another variation calls for stirring in a mixing glass, instead of shaking.[21]
  • A peach cosmopolitan substitutes peach schnapps for triple sec and peach juice for the cranberry
  • For the Broadway musical Wicked, a special type of cosmopolitan called an "Ozmopolitan" was made as a theme-fitting drink, as Wicked is the story of Elphaba, a green-skinned woman who eventually become the Wicked Witch of the West. This cosmopolitan variation was first made for the West End production, then Broadway.
  • The Real Housewives of New Jersey star Kathy Wakile created a Red Velvet Cosmo, based on one of her favorite desserts, red velvet cake.[22][23]
  • For a virgin cosmopolitan replace the vodka and triple sec with orange juice and pink lemonade.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Official Cocktail recipe: Cosmopolitan". International Bartenders Association. Archived from the original on 2015-03-07. Retrieved 2007-05-02. 
  2. ^ a b Grimes, William (November 2001). "Straight Up Or On the Rocks: The Story of the American Cocktail". North Point Press: 119.  . Online source viewable at The Big Apple blog by Barry Popik.
  3. ^ a b c d e Harrington, Paul; Moorhead, Laura (1998). "Cocktail: The Drinks for the 21st Century". New York: Viking (Penguin Putnam Inc.): 76.  . Online source viewable at The Big Apple blog by Barry Popik.
  4. ^ a b Kilduff, Paul. "Belly Up to the Bar: John Caine brought the cosmo to Frisco". The Kilduff Archive. The Monthly: The East Bay's Premier Magazine of Culture and Commerce. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  5. ^ "Best Locally Created Cocktail". Best of the Twin Cities 2006. Retrieved 2006-12-31. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Regan, Gary; Regan, Mardee Haidin (October 2006). "The Birth of the Cosmopolitan: A Tale of Two Bartenders". Ardent Spirits e-letter. Vol. 7, Issue 6. Archived from the original on 2007-07-07. Retrieved 2006-12-31. 
  7. ^ New York Magazine - Oct 31, 1994 - Page 84 Vol. 27, No. 43
  8. ^ The New York Bartender's Guide by Sally Ann Berk in 1994
  9. ^ Gourmet: Volume 55, Issues 7-12 by Pearl Violette Newfield Metzelthin in 1995: Brent Barnette New York, New York
  10. ^ Complete world bartender guide - Page 117 by Bob Sennett in 1993
  11. ^ "cocktail virgin slut: cosmopolitan". 2009-12-16. Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  12. ^ "Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933: Charles Christopher Mueller, Andrew Myles Davies: Books". Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  13. ^ "Small Screen Network". 
  14. ^ "Cosmopolitan #3 (1934 recipe) Cocktail Recipe - How To Make Cocktail Recipes". diffordsguide. Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  15. ^ "BEST LOCALLY CREATED COCKTAIL Minneapolis 2006 - Cosmopolitan". City Pages. 2007-03-31. Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  16. ^ "Cosmopolitan #2 (DeGroff's formula) Cocktail Recipe - How To Make Cocktail Recipes". diffordsguide. Retrieved 2014-03-15. 
  17. ^ Calabrese, Salvatore (1997). Classic Cocktails. London: Prion Books. p. 103. ISBN 1-85375-240-1. 
  18. ^ Kammerling, Alex (June 2003). "all you need to know about The Cosmopolitan". Class, the magazine of bar culture. 
  19. ^ 150 Classic Cocktails. London: Hamlyn. 2003. p. 38. ISBN 0 600 60992 8. 
  20. ^ Cocktails. London: Octopus. 2007. ISBN 0-600-61671-1. 
  21. ^ "Cosmopolitan Drink Recipe". Spirit Drinks. Retrieved 2010-07-01. 
  22. ^ Fabrikant, Mel (28 February 2012). "Red Velvet Cosmo Introduced By Kathy Wakile of 'The Real Housewives of New Jersey'". Paramus Post. Retrieved 5 July 2012. 
  23. ^ "Bio: Kathy Wakile: Cast". Bravo TV. Real Housewives of New Jersey. Retrieved 5 November 2013. 
  24. ^ "Virgin Cosmopolitan Drink". Go Shindig. Retrieved 24 December 2016. 

External links[edit]