Revisiting the Cosmopolitan

May 29th, 2008

This week sees the much-awaited return of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda in the big screen version of Sex and the City. As previous posts attest I’m a big fan of the series and a staunch supporter of the Cosmopolitan, a much maligned cocktail that was made famous by Carrie et al in the original TV series. In a nod to this, towards the end of the new movie (don’t worry, I won’t give away any plot details) the four girls indulge in a round of Cosmopolitans…

Carrie and the girls toasting with Cosmos
  1. Charlotte

    “This is delicious.”

  2. Miranda

    “Why did we ever stop drinking these.”

  3. Carrie

    “Cause everyone else started.”

The Cosmopolitan was indeed a victim of its own success, and its near-ubiquitous status around the turn of the century caused the hip crowd that helped bring the cocktail to fame drop it faster than you can say “passée”. Popularity ensured every bar wanted to serve the Cosmo, and bastardised versions using cheap spirits, sour mix and far too much cranberry juice became the norm in many places further sullying the cocktails reputation. Add to that the typical charges of it being a girls drink and not a real cocktail, and you’ve got a pretty sorry state of affairs.

I’m not trying to say the Cosmopolitan is the tastiest drink around. It’s a fairly unoriginal recipe based on the 1960’s Harpoon and sours like the Margarita, and flavoured vodka is hardly the most exciting base ingredient out there. It’s no Martini or Manhattan, but a well crafted Cosmo is a pretty tasty libation and a million times better than some of the other cocktails drank by cocktail newcomers like frozen Daiquiris and Appletinis.

It’s also a great cocktail for the beginners, approachable and familiar but also with a background in the classic sour family that makes it a great starting point for exploring other cocktails. The Cosmopolitan was the first cocktail I ever drank, and it started me on the road which led me to spending vast sums on obscure spirits and travelling thousands of miles to meet like-minded individuals, so it can’t be that bad… can it?

There are a million and one different recipes for the Cosmo, and while different tastes will prefer different mixtures, please do avoid any that call for sour mix, lime cordial or more cranberry juice than vodka. Last night I held a post-cinema soirée for my friends which gave me the chance to give plenty of different recipes a try. I’m pleased to say that my original was by far the most popular, and while it is a little more involved than some it is definitely worth the effort. However, for my own tastes I found I preferred a slightly tweaked version…

Cosmopolitan cocktail


View in: oz | ml | shots

In the case of the Cosmo I recommend using Fee Brothers Orange bitters, as a heavy bitters like Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6 are a bit too overpowering. To make a flamed orange zest, cut a thin slice of orange skin, with as little pith as possible, and hold it over the glass with a flame. Allow the flame to burn the orange skin for a few seconds then squeeze the peel to express the zest oils. The oils will ignite creating a bit of flair that always impresses guests. See the end of this episode of The Cocktail Spirit for a video demonstration.

If you haven’t had enough Cosmopolitan blogging, check out Brad’s great post on the history and evolution of the Cosmo and an interesting look at current attitudes towards the drink over at Tipsy Texan. Oh, and if you’re wondering what the film is like? It’s cheesy, it’s predictable… and above all it’s everything a Sex and the City fan could hope for…

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Posted in Cocktails on screen, Cranberry, Curaçao & Triple Sec, Lime, Orange Bitters, Recipes, Sex and the City, Vodka

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6 responses to “Revisiting the Cosmopolitan”

  1. Craig Hermann Craig Hermann says:

    Can’t wait to meet you at TotC!

  2. Gonçalo Gonçalo says:

    Numerous versions and birthstories of the Cosmopolitan seem to be known.

    Here’s another one; from 1934 based on Gin !?


  3. Jay Jay says:

    You too Craig, I can’t wait for July!

    Gonçalo, I’ve read about the Cosmopolitan in “Pioneers of Mixing Gin at Elite Bars” before – it’s interesting as the recipe is remarkably similar. I wonder if it is coincidence or not?

  4. Gonçalo Gonçalo says:

    … remarkably similar indeed and very probably not a coincidence.

    Neither Cheryl Cook, Toby Cecchini or Dale DeGroff mention a claim on the iinvention of the Modern Cosmopolitan.

    Cheryl spinned an already existing wheel, Toby took Lime Juice for serious, and Dale established the whole Thing along with a citrus-launched Vodka.

    The mentioned book “Pioneers of Mixing Gin at Elite Bars” from 1934 mentions a Cosmopolitan based on the same ideas of Mixing:
    A Gin Daisy with Cointreau for sweetening and a dash of Raspberrysyrup for colour.

    The modern day variant changes Gin for multiusual Russian Eau de Vie coloured with New England Spray at less than 25% Fruit.

    It looks fabulous, though.

  5. MxMo XLIV: Money Drinks: Cosmopolitan says:

    [...] Cosmopolitan (Jay Hapburn – Oh, gosh! ) – aromatic version of Cosmopolitan, has rich aroma and [...]

  6. Money Drinks: Cosmopolitan : Cali says:

    [...] Cosmopolitan (Jay Hapburn – Oh, gosh! ) – aromatic version of Cosmopolitan, has rich aroma and [...]

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