One of the most popular cocktails of the last twenty-five years is the Cosmopolitan. This drink gained traction in the 1990s due to endorsements from celebrities like Madonna and the Sex and the City girls. For years, a hotly debated subject has been, “what is the ideal way to prepare a Cosmopolitan?” After extensive research, I believe I have come up with the perfect Cosmopolitan recipe. Read onward, and let’s analyze the ingredients and preparation.
The Perfect Cosmopolitan
Preparing the perfect Cosmopolitan takes a little bit longer than just using a cocktail mix, but is well worth the effort. The first few times I tried it this way, it took me just shy of four minutes, but once you get the routine down, it should only take about three minutes from start to finish.The Cosmopolitan is not a very old drink, but it has already become a classic cocktail. Tones of cranberry, citrus, lime, and orange give the Cosmo a fruity flavor and a crisp finish.
- 2 oz Absolut Citron vodka
- 1 oz Cointreau
- juice of ½ lime
- 1 oz cranberry juice
- 1 dash Angostura orange bitters
- Garnish of orange twist (or lime slice)
Have a chilled martini glass ready to the side. Pour the following ingredients into a chilled cocktail shaker without ice in this order: citrus vodka, Cointreau, cranberry juice, fresh lime juice, and orange bitters. Now scoop your ice into the shaker; cracked ice is even better than cubed if you have it available. Now shake your drink like it’s a stripper who hasn’t made her stage fee yet and it’s an hour before closing time. The idea is to get your drink nice and cold before you strain it into your chilled martini glass.
Strain your drink (some people even finely strain it with an additional hand strainer) into the martini glass. The drink should be a light pink color. For the final touch, we will flame an orange peel on top of the drink.
To flame the orange peel, have a bit of rind form a fresh navel orange, as if you took the peel off of an orange slice. Warm the inside slightly with a lighter, but not too much. This will bring the oils to the surface of the rind. Then, holding the sides of the rind lightly between thumb and forefinger, squeeze the rind to expel the oils through the flame of your lighter, now positioned between the rind and the top of the cocktail glass. If you execute this maneuver correctly, you should see a little flame-burst as the oils travel through the fire on their way to coating the top of the Cosmopolitan. While this final move is just mettre la dernière main à your perfect Cosmopolitan, it adds a subtlety to the drink and is sure to impress your friends.
Grand Marnier can be substituted for Cointreau if need be, and any good higher end vodka for Absolut Citron, although most people suggest Ketel One Citroen as a good stand-in.
History of the Cosmopolitan
It’s generally accepted that the Cosmopolitan was loosely based on previous cranberry and vodka drinks like the Cape Codder, but the exact year and person that deserve credit for the creation of the Cosmo are still public debate today. South Beach bartender Cheryl Cook is usually credited with creating the original Cosmopolitan in 1985 or 1986 out of cranberry juice, Roses’s Lime, tripe sec, and vodka. The modern Cosmopolitan was perfected by bartender Toby Cecchini while working at Manhattan’s Odeon around 1987 or 1988. Cecchini substituted Cointreau for regular triple sec and fresh lime juice for the overly sweetened Rose’s Lime. This made the drink slightly pink and tart, but not too sugary. It is part of bartending lore that Cecchini concocted his version based on a vague description of Cook’s Cosmopolitan. Another Odeon bartender, Melissa Huffsmith, added Absolut Citron to the mix when that vodka was introduced in 1988.
Concurrently, bar owner John Caine was bringing the Cosmopolitan to San Francisco bars from Minnesota. Bartender Neil Murray of the Cork & Cleaver Steakhouse is the fellow that probably showed Caine the drink, as he is sometimes mentioned as an originator of the drink. Caine also claims that a variation of the Cosmopolitan was being served at yuppie “fern bars” during the 1970s, and partially credits the resurgence in cocktails during this period to the Cosmopolitan. In a ll likelihood, versions of the Cosmopolitan started being served sometime around 1975, as different individuals and communities are credited with popularizing prototypical versions of the drink. Some of these 1970s Cosmopolitan firestarters include the gay community of Provincetown, Massachusetts; and area bars in Cleveland and Cincinnati.