Leave your impressions behind when you craft a Cosmopolitan cocktail at home. Despite its pretty pink hue, the Cosmo is a serious vodka cocktail that’s easy to craft and even easier to sip.
The Cosmopolitan cocktail hit our radar in the 1990s before we met each other or sipped the pink drink ourselves. Although we weren’t huge cocktail drinkers back then, the drink was practically impossible to miss on TV and in New York City bars where we lived and worked at the time.
Sure, serious drinkers will want to order a dry martini or city centric Manhattan or Bronx when they dine at New York City restaurants. But, in a metropolis filled with millions of imbibers looking to stand out, the vivid pink Cosmo is popular too.
The Cosmopolitan cocktail is also known as the Cosmo. We use both names interchangeably in this article.
Fast forward to the present and things have changed…
We now drink cocktails at bars and craft them at home. And, in a timely twist of fate, the show that made the Cosmo popular has been rebooted and is back on TV yet again.
Discover more colorful cocktails.
What Is A Cosmopolitan Cocktail?
The modern Cosmopolitan cocktail is a sour vodka cocktail crafted with vodka citron, triple sec, cranberry cocktail juice and freshly squeezed lime juice. Beyond its uncredited role on Sex and the City, the Cosmo stands apart from similar sour cocktails thanks to to its pretty pink hue.
However, don’t be misled by the Cosmo’s feminine appearance. Yes, its pink. Yes, its martini glass vessel has a stem that’s as slim as a stiletto heel. It’s also a serious sipper that’s absolutely appropriate for men and women alike.
Worldly is a synonym for cosmopolitan.
History Of The Cosmopolitan Cocktail
For many people (including us), the Cosmopolitan cocktail’s history started in the 1990s when it became Carrie Bradshaw’s signature cocktail on Sex and the City. That’s when the modern cocktail achieved cultural fame and global popularity. But that’s not when the Cosmo was actually born.
Cocktail historians trace the Cosmo back to the 1930s when it was crafted with a different name (Cosmopolitan Daisy) and different ingredients (dry gin, triple sec, lemon juice and raspberry syrup). While that cocktail didn’t become a modern classic, the Cosmo found new life in the 1980s in cities like Miami, San Francisco and New York City with a vodka-based recipe.
Today, the Cosmopolitan isn’t just one of the world’s most popular vodka cocktails. It’s also one of the most popular cocktails period.
You only need the following items to craft a Cosmo at home:
You probably have most of these ingredients on hand. However, if you’re like us, you may need to buy a bottle of citrus-flavored vodka at your local liquor store.
We bought a bottle of Absolut Citron for this and other cocktail recipes. Distilled in Sweden, the lemon-flavored vodka has a 40% ABV.
Discover our favorite vodka cocktails.
However, we didn’t have to buy a bottle of triple sec. Since Cointreau is our triple sec of choice, we already had a bottle of the French orange liqueur with a similar 40% ABV.
Discover our favorite Cointreau cocktails.
How to Craft A Cosmopolitan Cocktail
The first step in this recipe is to measure the four liquid and pour each into a shaker. We use a Japanese jigger for this step since it provides accurate measurements while reducing spillage.
Buy a Japanese jigger from Amazon if you need a jigger or want an inexpensive upgrade.
Next, drop a handful of ice into the shaker and vigorously shake until the liquids are chilled and combined – approximately 20 seconds. We use a Boston shaker for this step since it doesn’t leak and is easy to clean.
Strain the shaken pink cocktail into a martini glass.
Garnish with a lime wheel.
Slice the lime wheel before you squeeze your lime.
You could alternatively garnish your Cosmo with an orange twist. In fact, a twist of orange peel is the pink drink’s traditional garnish.
Using a lime is our preference since the cocktail contains lime juice. Plus, Mindi is partial to combining pink and green ever since she read The Official Preppy Handbook when she was a teenager.
While you have to admit that the Cosmopolitan cocktail is a pretty drink, feel free to experiment with its recipe to make it your own. Here are are a few ideas to get you started:
Discover 10 essential bar tools for the home mixologist.
Frequently Asked Questions
Also called a Cosmo, the Cosmopolitan cocktail is a sour vodka cocktail crafted with vodka citron, triple sec, cranberry cocktail juice and freshly squeezed lime juice.
The modern Cosmo’s exact history is a mystery that may have originated in Miami, San Francisco or New York City.
Vodka Citron, Triple Sec, Cranberry Cocktail Juice, Lime Juice, Lime Wheel (garnish) and Ice Cubes (for shaking)
The Cosmopolitan cocktail is shaken, not stirred.
Although the Cosmopolitan cocktail has a reputation of being a girly drink due to its pink color, the sour vodka cocktail is suitable for both men and women.
Did you craft this cocktail? If so, please rate the recipe below.
- 2 ounces vodka citron
- ¾ ounce triple sec
- ¾ ounce cranberry cocktail juice
- ½ ounce lime juice (freshly squeezed)
- lime wheel (garnish)
- ice cubes (for shaking)
- Pour citron vodka, triple sec, cranberry cocktail juice and lime juice into a shaker.
- Add several ice cubes and shake vigorously until liquids are chilled and mixed.
- Strain into a martini glass.
- Garnish with a lime wheel.
- You can garnish this cocktail with a orange wheel or twist instead of a lime wheel.
- We like to use Cointreau in this recipe but you could use another triple sec like Grand Marnier instead.
About The Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers their unique taste of the world.
Original Publication Date: March 8, 2023