The Cosmopolitan: A cult classic cocktail

The Cosmopolitan: A cult classic cocktail

Posted by Spirits Kiosk on 14 Apr 2023

The Cosmopolitan, often referred to as a "Cosmo," is a classic cocktail with a rich history, having graced the lips of the fashionable and sophisticated for decades. 

For some drinkers it remains the symbol of glamour and style, while others see it with more nostalgic sensibilities remembering the countless scenes it featured as Carrie Bradshaw’s signature cocktail and how often the dainty pink drinks featured in nights out of the late 90’s. 

Bartenders of that era haven’t forgotten either – how could you when they would be slinging hundreds each shift!?

Join us as we delve into the origins of this iconic drink and share some of those memorable cultural references. We’ll also provide a step-by-step recipe for making your own Cosmopolitan at home, along with some expert tips to ensure you craft the perfect cocktail each and every time.

The Cosmo Craze

The origins of the Cosmopolitan can be traced back to the 1970s, but its exact creator remains a topic of debate among mixologists. Some attribute the drink's creation to bartender Cheryl Cook in South Beach, Miami who created a drink of that name and with similar ingredients. We, as many others do, credit bartender Toby Cecchini from Manhattan's Odeon bar. His drink was a riff on the original idea but it’s different enough to be a new recipe even if it shares the same name. 

Certainly, what we all know as a Cosmo today is the refined recipe Cecchini created in 1988 by using Absolut Citron vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, and fresh lime juice.

The Cosmopolitan gained widespread popularity in the 1990s, in large part due to the hit television series Sex and the City. Be it becasue it was so iconic to New York bar scene, or due to the show, the Cosmo became synonymous with fashionable, urban living and the glamorous lifestyle of NYC. 

There were even billboards from the likes of Grand Marnier and Absolut promoting the drink. Not just ads, billboards. Even the cranberry juice brands pushed it. IT. WAS. EVERYWHERE.

But here’s the rub of it all. It was ubiquitous because it’s a nice drink and it’s stuck around as it’s an easy to make recipe that’s really enjoyable to sip. 

The cocktail combines sweet, sour and citrus flavours. The Citron Vodka provides the booze as well as a zesty base, while the cranberry juice adds a touch of tartness. The triple sec imparts a hint of orange and sweetness, while the freshly squeezed lime juice lends a refreshing, tangy counter. The resulting taste is both sophisticated yet balanced. Moreover, the flavours are super accessible, making it a popular choice for both cocktail enthusiasts and casual drinkers alike. The fact that it’s delightfully pink is an added plus too.

Cosmo Cocktail Recipe

45ml Lemon Vodka

15ml Cointreau

30ml Cranberry juice

10ml Lime Juice

Add all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled Martini glass. Zest an orange peel as the garnish (over a flame if you are feeling theatrical).

Tips for making the perfect Cosmopolitan

Use high-quality ingredients: For the best results, choose a lemon vodka rather than just plain. You can infuse it yourself if you want to, but there's plenty of good choices out there so why bother with the faff. Freshly squeezed lime juice is also essential for a crisp, refreshing taste so don't (ever) use the concentrate.

Chill your glassware: A cold martini glass will help maintain the temperature of your Cosmopolitan and make for a far more enjoyable drinking experience. Take our word for it, pouring a perfectly chilled drink into a luke warm glass is one of the easiest ways to kill the moment. 


Absolut Citron: It's the OG lemon vodka and what the drink became popular on so why fix something that's not broken? The fresh fruity lemon & zesty lime character on the nose is exactly what you need, while the pronounced lemon peel flavour drives through to taste and helps add some citrus body into the drink. 

Grey Goose Le Citron: If you are looking for an alternative to Absolut - this is it. There's clean and fresh lemon notes on the nose, while a lot more assertive citrus also come through to taste.

Cointreau: An homage to the orange - Cointreau is an essential ingredient in any cabinet and a great expression of intense orange flavours. In a Cosmo the zesty, fresh, floral and sweet orange adds to the aroma while the sweetness is just enough to balance out everything else.

Clement's Créole Shrubb: Clemant's delicious orange liqueur uses rum as the base rather than neutral spirit. This adds depth to their liqueur and makes it more akin to Grand Marnier than Cointreau. It bursts with luscious aromas of rich mandarin zest and honeyed orange and this added richness is fantastic in a Cosmo.