Sex and the City: The Cosmopolitan

June 26th, 2007

Love it or hate it, Sex and the City introduced a whole new generation of drinkers, myself included, to the fabulous world of the cocktail. This is the first in a series of posts trying out drinks featured on the show, and seeing how they stand up in the real world. Today, the most (in)famous of all Sex and the City cocktails, the Cosmopolitan.

Sex and the City girls

The Cosmo was Carrie Bradshaw’s drink of choice throughout much of Sex and the City. Despite its modern image, the recipe follows the classic sour-family cocktail recipe of base spirit (vodka), sweetener (Cointreau) and sour (lime juice), with a bit of cranberry juice thrown in to add an extra bit of tartness and a nice pink colour.

Its history is somewhat uncertain – until recently it was thought to have originated during the 80s, perhaps based upon the Harpoon, a drink created to promote Ocean Spray juice during the 1960s. This was complicated recently though by the discovery of a gin based “Cosmopolitan” recipe, very similar to the modern Cosmo in all but the use of gin, listed in the 1934 book “Pioneers of Mixing Gin at Elite Bars”.

Whatever its origins, the Cosmo is now firmly rooted as one of the most popular cocktails of the past twenty years. However this popularity has become its undoing, and it has become rather démodé in recent years. I think a lot of this has to do with the poorly made Cosmopolitans that many bars turn out these days, using far too much cranberry, cheap triple-sec and lime cordial, or (gasp) sour mix, rather than fresh juice. Which is a shame, as I firmly believe a well made Cosmo is a deserved classic.

Cosmopolitan cocktail with Absolut Citron vodka, Cointreau and Fee Brother's Orange Bitters bottles in background


Unfortunately the red wall in the background of the photo has made the Cosmo look a lot redder than it should be. Ideally a Cosmopolitan should be a pinky colour, rather than a red. The cranberry and lime create a tart, sour flavour that nicely offsets the sweetness of the Cointreau, with the vodka further underlining the citrus taste. The orange bitters and flamed zest really make this drink, bringing together the flavours to create a surprisingly interesting mix that is far more complex than the Cosmo’s reputation might suggest. If you’ve never tried it with bitters, give it a go – you might just discover what all the fuss is about.

Subcribe using RSS Share this page

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

If you liked this, the barman recommends...

20 responses to “Sex and the City: The Cosmopolitan”

  1. The Pegu Blog says:

    [...] stuff either, or you’ll end up like this guy. Also, lots of folks, like Jay at Oh Gosh! who recently did a post on Cosmos from the other direction, want you to use citrus infused vodka. Do not fall into this [...]

  2. cheryl charming cheryl charming says:

    Does anyone know the exact episode the very first Cosmopolitan was seen on Sex in the City. I want to reant it.

    Thank you!

  3. The Pegu Blog says:

    [...] On with the show. I played a bit of Blogpong with Jay at Oh Gosh! over Cosmopolitans, and the use of infused vodka. Jay advocated citrus infused vodka in making Cosmos, and I think it [...]

  4. Jim Jim says:

    Does anyone know the secret of getting a flame from squeezing the orange peel?? I’ve tried several types of orange with no success?

  5. Jay Jay says:

    Jim, big old navel oranges are the best in my experience. It’s important to use a nice sharp knife and avoid handling the peel too much before you squeeze it, as you want to conserve as much of the zest oils as possible.

    I haven’t made a Cosmo for ages, but with the movie coming up I might have to dig out a bottle of citrus vodka to celebrate. If I remember any other tips for flaming zests I’ll be sure to let you know!

  6. Cheryl Charming Cheryl Charming says:

    The first time the Cosmopolitan was mentioned and seen in the TV show was on July 18th, 1999. It was the 2nd season, 19th episode called The Chicken Dance. Samantha orders one at a wedding bar, Carrie orders vodka on the rocks.

    The next was in the 20th episode called The Man, The Myth, The Viagra.

    The third time was #23 Evolution and the fourth was #24 La Douleur Exquise!


  7. Jay Jay says:

    Good find Cheryl – thanks for keeping me updated. It’s funny, I watched the second season back when I was locating cocktails to cover like the Tartini, but I totally missed the Cosmo mentions. I guess I assumed it was earlier on…

  8. The Hidden Persuaders « Rachel’s Blog says:

    [...] billboards to broadcast from. And the radio. Movies are also a great way to advertise. After the Sex and the City movie came out, my friend’s sister went out to a bar and the bartender said that ever since [...]

  9. Cranberry Cocktails for Turkey Day | Flavorista says:

    [...] to "Sex in the City," a Cosmopolitan (aka "a cosmo") is the ultimate cranberry cocktail, but you can do so much more with that humble cranberry [...]

  10. TV’s boozing imperative, comparing obesity and smoking, fatty meal fetishes | Read All About It | says:

    [...] The Sex and the City cosmopolitan craze has had a trickle-down effect of another kind. Research shows that watching small-screen [...]

  11. Sweet Reality [Blog] » Blog Archive » Cosmo - კოქტეილი says:

    [...] ქერი ბრედშოუს და მისი დაქალების ფავო…. [...]

  12. Collective Conversation » Creativity in Public Relations » Blog Archive » Creativity Interview: Cranberries says:

    [...] cosmopolitan which was throughout the series and in the last scene of the movie. As a result, cosmos were very much back on the bar menu and featured in every magazine. They were even able to get some [...]

  13. Gin and Tonic? It’s No Wild Blossom - City Room Blog - says:

    [...] Now if only Wild Blossom could be sipped on a hit television show too? [...]

  14. Sphincter Troupe: the drinking game » The Yale Herald says:

    [...] Unless you’ve set your heart on attending Prohibition start to finish, you should be thinking about going to the Sphincter Show at 9:30 in the Branford common room; there’s probably no group of women on campus (except Theta) sharper or better at timely satires of campus issues. If you are easily offended, a member of the Greek system, or strongly pro-Yale administration, you may want to stay away. But if you aren’t, and decide to go, bring this Bullblog Drinking Game along—and, for good feminist measure, a cosmo! [...]

  15. says:

    Despite it’s modern image


    possessive its has no apostrophe !

  16. says:

    ….actually you’ve done it all the way through :(

  17. Jay Jay says:

    Thanks for pointing it out – now corrected. I guess I wasn’t in the mood for proof reading that day.

  18. kim a kim a says:

    Substituting Grey Goose Poire vodka makes it a pear cosmo, and is my go-to cocktail when I’m in the mood for something sweet.

    As far as citrus vodkas, I was disappointed by Ketel One’s version–ugh! smells and TASTES very medicinal, in my opinion. Surprising, since I like regular Ketel One in a good dirty martini. Absolute Citron or almost anything else is better for mixing, though.

  19. Hidden Menu » Emmy’s Spaghetti Shack says:

    [...] cranberry, soda water, & housemade sugar water in a tall glass. What we think: Beat it cosmo, we’re dropping your 1997, Manolo-wearing ass for this fresh little number. Inside Info: [...]

  20. Cocktail Hour: Cosmopolitan | wine me, dine me says:

    [...] doing research on this post, I found Oh Gosh’s (one of my favorite cocktail blogs, a must read!) recipe for a Cosmopolitan– which adds [...]

Leave a Comment

Warning: Illegal string offset 'solo_subscribe' in /nfs/c08/h03/mnt/126554/domains/ on line 305

Subscribe without commenting

Get free updates from A dash of Oh Gosh!

Or subscribe to Oh Gosh! using an RSS reader RSS Entries Feed

© 2007-2018 Oh Gosh! – All Rights Reserved

Photography by Jay Hepburn
Artwork by Craig Mrusek

Win an ice ball maker

Plus a bitters travel kit from The Bitter Truth, Miller's 10th Aniversary Gin, Martini Bitter, and a Mozart Dry bartender's set. For a chance to win...

Just subscribe to A dash of Oh Gosh!

Full details & rules