Refined and elegant, soft pink, sophisticated, like a flamingo on a thin glass leg. That is Cosmopolitan in a glass.
It is the quintessence of flirting without vulgarity, a drink with the taste of a metropolis and its rapid rhythms, sweet-alluring astringency and sour aftertaste.
Once the Cosmopolitan cocktail was something like the spirit of the new time: free, bold and bright. Now it still remains famous and has managed to become a classic. Not that boring tradition, but a fresh, flirty and rich holiday drink, which is ideal for both an incendiary party and a sincere evening with best friends.
Although, for a long time, many perceived Cosmo as a purely feminine drink, in the 21st century there is no place for conventions. This legendary cocktail will appeal to lovers of sweet and sour drinks, regardless of gender.
It is also not just a fashion drink from the late 90s that grew up through Sex and the City. Because the original cocktail recipe has nothing to do with the modern variant.
Actually there are so many recipes for this drink that everything that is pink and comes along in a martini glass is considered a Cosmopolitan, as long as cranberry juice and vodka are in it. Or gin and raspberry syrup. And limes or lemons.
Before we finally lose your attention, here’s our favorite recipe and some background to it.
The story behind the Cosmopolitan
The Cosmopolitan, as is usually served in bars, is a construct from the 80s. It is said to have been invented by a lady named Cheryl Cook who experimented with Absolut Citron, an Absolut Vodka with a lemon aroma.
Her recipe with Roses Lime Juice and Orange Liqueur was finally changed by a man named Toby Cecchine, who relied on fresh lime juice and only Cointreau as a liqueur.
Both are a standard today in Cosmopolitan’s recipe, at least since all bartenders in the world had to look up the recipe because hordes of the fairer sex wanted to order this pink drink.
Originally the drink was completely different under the name Cosmopolitan. You can read more about it here.
But, of course, the Cosmopolitan cocktail became known around the world in 1998 thanks to the TV series Sex and the City, based on the book by Candace Bushnell. Carrie’s four best friends, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda, while visiting the most fashionable hangouts in Manhattan, discussed the events of their lives with a glass of their favorite Cosmopolitan.
It was this TV show that gave the drink worldwide fame, thanks to which it was included in the list of official cocktails of the International Bartenders Association (IBA) in the category “Contemporary Classic”.
Old vs. New
If you can agree on which Cosmopolitan you want to drink, then the rest consists of details. The right type of spirit, the right amounts – that sort of detail.
However, fresh raspberries and gin turn the 1934 Cosmopolitan very close to a Raspberry Thyme Smash, albeit without thyme.
Similar to the Gimlet, we are also fans of this slight artificiality with the contemporary Cosmo, which the vodka-cranberry mix brings with it. So we concentrate on the modern variant. Of course we still have the recipe for the 1934 version for you:
1934 Cosmopolitan Recipe
- 1 oz Gin
- 1/4 oz Cointreau
- 1/2 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 oz raspberry syrup or 3 fresh raspberries
Put everything in a shaker, shake well with plenty of ice and strain twice in a pre-chilled martini glass. Enjoy.
How does a Cosmopolitan Taste
Despite the fact that the basis of the cocktail is vodka, here it is practically not felt. This does not deprive the drink of its strength.
The taste balance is created by the combination of sweet citrus Cointreau and sour lime juice. And the harmony of the composition is completed by the tart notes that cranberry juice gives, coloring the drink in an exquisite pale pink.
Despite the fact that at first glance this is a rather uncomplicated drink, it is very important to observe all the proportions of the Cosmopolitan cocktail. That way you will get an excellent, strong, sweet and sour mix of a delicious pink.
- 1.5 oz vodka Lemon infused vodka, if available – if not, add lemon zest
- 1/2 oz Cointreau or any other Triple Sec
- 2/3 oz lime juice freshly squeezed
- 2/3 to 1 oz cranberry nectar
- Pre-cool the glass (either with a glass freezer or ice cubes).
- Put all ingredients in the shaker.
- Add 4 to 5 medium-sized ice cubes.
- Shake for about 12 seconds.
- Strain into the glass.
- Garnish with lemon zest or flambeed orange zest.
The perfect Cosmopolitan ingredients
Now comes the point where we explain how we get our beloved recipe. And it starts with vodka:
Absolutely Citron or something else?
Lemon vodka is used for the original recipe from the 80s, even though you hardly seem to taste it through the limes and fruity sweetness.
The Cosmopolitan doesn’t automatically become inferior if you leave out the hint of lemon. If you decide on choosing a neutral vodka, you put the cranberry juice in the foreground. In the mouth you will notice the cranberry aroma as well as a tart note due to the juice and the orange liqueur.
A hint of lemon actually makes the drink a little rounder.
In our opinion, it definitely gets better with lemon, whatever the source. You can use Lemon infused vodka, piece of lemon zest or half of the citrus juice from limes and half from lemons. The result is comparable.
Which Triple Sec is the best?
In cocktails like the Cosmopolitan, the Triple Sec does not set the tone. Cranberry and lime dominate it. So if you want to get rid of cheap orange liqueur somewhere, this is where you can safely use it up without ruining the drink.
The fact is, however, that Cointreau and comparable quality liqueurs make a big difference in more delicate drinks. So if you have to buy new orange liqueur, then buy a good one.
Rose’s Lime Juice or fresh lime juice?
Orange liqueur and cranberry nectar give the Cosmopolitan a light basic artificiality that we really like. It goes with the 80s and 90s especially with its funky pink color.
But with Lime Juice Cordial this note becomes much too heavy and artificial. That’s why we recommend sticking with fresh limes.
Cranberry nectar for Cosmopolitan
Instead of cranberry nectar, many recipes refer to Rose’s Cranberry Mixer – a cranberry juice that, like Rose’s Lime Juice Cordial, is somewhere between juice and syrup and is quite sweet.
The advantage: the shelf life and the taste.
The disadvantage: You can’t get it anywhere. Not about perishing.
Contrary to popular belief, there is also real cranberry juice. At around $10 per 32 ounce, it is really a shame if you don’t it use up and have to throw it away later. Plus it may be too intense for a Cosmopolitan drink.
So we will stick with the cranberry nectar.
The perfect amounts for the drink
Your ultimate goal when making a Cosmopolitan Cocktail should be to balance sweet and sour flavors. Too sour or too sweet ruins the drink.
This does not mean that you always need a 1:1 ratio of the two components to each other. This seems harmonious on paper, but whether you perceive this in terms of taste is another story.
The reason lies in the limes you use to prepare your drink. Their acidity and sweetness vary depending on the growing conditions.
Sometimes the fluctuations are minimal, sometimes extreme. This depends on how long the respective fruit was allowed to hang in the sun. The longer the sweeter.
It is therefore imperative that balance your Cosmopolitan Cocktail before you drink it or serve it. Because afterwards, corrections to the sweet-sour balance are no longer possible.
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