The cosmopolitan is a drink with a distinguished history, hitting its peak during the 1990s, possibly because of its appearance on a popular television series. The first appearance of this blush-colored drink was (according to cocktail historian, Gary Regan) in South Beach when a bartender, Cheryl Cook, combined a new citrus-flavored vodka with a bit of cranberry juice. John Caine, a bartender in San Francisco, is often given credit for making the drink popular. According to Caine, the drink originated in Provincetown.
The New York Version
As with most other drinks, there are a few different ideas about where the drink really originated, but most people agree that the drink really became well-known after Toby Cecchini offered it at New York City’s Odeon. Of course, Cecchini claims credit from transforming a “terrible drink” into the pretty pink version enjoyed today.
The Rainbow Room Scenario
Other origin stories claim that the drink was first created in Provincetown, Massachusetts, in Minneapolis by Neal Murray, and at the Rainbow Room in New York City. Depending on which version of the story seems most likely, the drink either traveled from Florida to San Francisco and then to Miami or from Provincetown, through New York, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and finally to San Francisco. It is possible that multiple bartenders had similar ideas and introduced versions of the drink in their own communities.
The Officially Accepted Recipe
According to the International Bartenders Association, the ingredients for a Cosmopolitan include vodka citron, triple sec, cranberry juice, and some freshly squeezed lime juice. The ingredients are mixed in a shaker with crushed ice and shaken before it’s strained into a chilled cocktail glass. The drink is generally served without ice in a cocktail or martini glass and may be garnished with a slice of lime or a twist of lemon. A successful creation should have a frothy pink appearance.
Variations on the Cosmopolitan
Naturally, there are several variations, some bartenders mixing the drink up with Cointreau, Gran Marnier, or Chambord rather than triple sec. Some bartenders prepare the drink with unflavored vodka, a recipe that is consistent with some of the origin stories. Usually, the drink is mixed by shaking it with crushed ice, but some variations involve stirring the drink together in a mixing glass rather than the standard shaking. A virgin (or non-alcoholic) cosmopolitan is made of orange juice and pink lemonade. In one variation, the cranberry juice is replaced with prune juice. Finally, an orange peel or slice could be used as a garnish.
Drinks and Appetizers
The cosmopolitan recipe generally results in a pink drink that is both sweet and sour with a citrusy fruit flavor. It’s served neat, qualifies as a classic, and is usually enjoyed in the evening. Sour Patch Kids are a fun candy to have on hand when drinking vodka, but there are other snacks to consider when serving the cosmopolitan. A cheese plate or charcuterie board are pretty safe bets for serving with drinks. Other options include pita slices with hummus, slices of toasted bread with tomato and mozzarella or avocado and additional flavors.
What’s your go-to snack for serving with drinks? What do you think works best with a cosmopolitan? No matter which origin story you prefer, the prettily blushing drink is sure to remain popular for some time.