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Cosmopolitan Cocktail Recipe

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.

Cosmopolitan Cocktail from Below

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.

Fun Fact
The Cosmopolitan cocktail is also known as the Cosmo. We use both names interchangeably in this article.

Cosmopolitan Cocktail in the Rain
Rainy days are Cosmo days in our home.

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?

Cosmopolitan Cocktail and Absolut Citron Bottle
Crafting Cosmopolitan cocktails was inevitable once we purchased this bottle of Absolut Citron vodka.

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.

Fun Fact
Worldly is a synonym for cosmopolitan.

History Of The Cosmopolitan Cocktail

Cosmopolitan Cocktail with Black Background
The Cosmopolitan cocktail is practically a centenarian. Or is it?

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.

Cosmopolitan Cocktail with Lime Wheel and Pink Background
The modern Cosmopolitan is simultaneously tart and sweet. It’s also pink. Very pink.

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.

Cosmopolitan Cocktail Ingredients

Cosmopolitan Cocktail Ingredients
You can can count the Cosmo’s ingredient list on one hand. These ingredients include vodka citron, triple sec, cranberry cocktail juice and a lime.

You only need the following items to craft a Cosmo at home:

  • Vodka Citron
  • Triple Sec
  • Cranberry Cocktail Juice
  • Lime Juice
  • Lime Wheel (garnish)
  • Ice Cubes (for shaking)

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.

Absolut Citron and Cointreau Bottles
We use these bottles of Absolut Citron and Cointreau to craft Cosmopolitan cocktails at home.

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

Cosmopolitan Cocktail Mise en Place
Crafting Cosmopolitan cocktails at home is easy once you gather the necessary ingredients and bar tools.

You don’t need any fancy bar tools to craft a Cosmopolitan cocktail at home. We use the following basic bar tools in our Cosmo recipe:

Don’t give up if you’re missing any of these basic bar tools. For example, you could use an angled measuring cup instead of a jigger. That being said, none of the above bar tools is expensive to buy or difficult to find.

Discover 10 essential bar tools for home mixologists.

The first step 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 don’t have a jigger or want an inexpensive upgrade that’s easy to use.

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.

Buy a Boston Shaker from Amazon if you don’t have a shaker or want an inexpensive upgrade that doesn’t leak.

Cosmopolitan Cocktail in Shaker
Once you measure and pour the liquids into a shaker and add ice, it’s time to shake things up.

Strain the shaken pink cocktail into a martini glass.

Straining a Cosmopolitan Cocktail
Straining this Cosmo revealed its pretty pink hue.

Garnish with a lime wheel.

Pro Tip
Slice the lime wheel before you squeeze your lime.

Cosmopolitan Cocktail with Lime Wheel Up Close
A lime wheel completed this Cosmopolitan cocktail when we crafted it at home.

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.

Cosmo Alternatives

Crafted Cosmopolitan Cocktail
We think pink every time we craft Cosmos at home.

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:

  • Add extra cranberry cocktail juice to craft a rose-colored Cosmopolitan cocktail.
  • Replace the fresh lime juice with Rose’s lime juice to craft a sweeter Cosmopolitan cocktail.
  • Replace the vodka with tequila to craft a Cosmo Rita cocktail.
  • Leave out the cranberry cocktail juice to craft a Kamikaze cocktail.
  • Go rogue and craft a gin-based Pink Lady cocktail instead.

Cosmopolitan Cocktail FAQs

What is a Cosmopolitan cocktail?

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.

Where was the Cosmopolitan cocktail invented?

The modern Cosmo’s exact history is a mystery that may have originated in Miami, San Francisco or New York City.

What are the ingredients in a Cosmopolitan cocktail?

Vodka Citron, Triple Sec, Cranberry Cocktail Juice, Lime Juice, Lime Wheel (garnish) and Ice Cubes (for shaking)

Is the Cosmopolitan cocktail shaken or stirred?

The Cosmopolitan cocktail is shaken, not stirred.

Is the Cosmopolitan cocktail a girly drink or can men drink it too?

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.

Cosmopolitan Cocktail Recipe

Cosmopolitan Cocktail with White Background


Yield: 1
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

The Cosmopolitan is a serious cocktail despite its pretty pink hue. It's also an easy cocktail to craft at home in just a few minutes.


  • 2 ounces vodka citron
  • 3/4 ounce triple sec
  • 3/4 ounce cranberry cocktail juice
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • lime wheel (for garnish)
  • ice cubes (for shaking)


  1. Pour citron vodka, triple sec, cranberry cocktail juice and lime juice into a shaker.
  2. Add several ice cubes and shake vigorously until liquids are chilled and mixed.
  3. Strain into a martini glass.
  4. 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.

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About The Authors

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 their website 2foodtrippers. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers a unique taste of the world.


Article Updates
We update our articles regularly. Some updates are major while others are minor link changes and spelling corrections. Let us know if you see anything that needs to be updated in this article.

We purchased the ingredients and tools used to craft this cocktail.

Original Publication Date: March 8, 2023


Saturday 22nd of July 2023

The Cocktail College Podcast did a great piece on the history of the Cosmo. You should give it a listen


Friday 10th of March 2023

Only thing I'd say is 2oz vodka (I'm sure Citroen helps) 3/4oz cointreau or triple sec 1/2,oz cran 1/2oz fresh lime Only happy patrons. And I ask.

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