The Cosmopolitan

Proposed by: Davidcosmodbm

Reviewed by: Jonathan

So many claims and counterclaims litter the relatively short history of the Cosmopolitan (or “Cosmo” if you’re a frequent user) that it’s hardly worth offering a history. Suffice it to say, many people thought of it… and many thought they were first.

Whatever its origins, however, the Cosmopolitan quickly became the cocktail of the moment in the 90s and is still quite popular, especially among women. One reason may be its use as the signature cocktail of Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) in Sex and the City. By the time they made the series into a film, Carrie’s friend Miranda is asking why they didn’t order them anymore. “Because,” Carrie says, “everyone else started.”

Perhaps because of Carrie Bradshaw’s endorsement, the Cosmopolitan, I’m told, is a woman’s drink. I don’t really understand why any cocktail needs to be described that way—what could be more absurd than saying a drink is more suited to men or women?

My interest in the Cosmopolitan came from the favorite drink of graduate school friends, a Cape Codder. That cocktail combines Cranberry Juice and Vodka, and whenever I visited, they’d place one in my hand around 5:15. I thought the bitterness of the juice worked well with the clean and super distilled alcohol. It was refreshing in a way screwdrivers are not because it was never too sweet or dense. The sweet and sour of citrus and the bitter of citrus peel in the Cointreau, I figured, could only add.

As it turns out, those ingredients add a great deal. Whether positively or negatively I’ll leave to Jonathan, but I didn’t feel particularly girlish drinking one.

Here’s the Recipe:

1 1/2 ounces vodka or citrus vodka

1 ounce Cointreau orange liqueur

1/2 ounce fresh lime juice

1/4 ounce cranberry juice

Orange peel for garnish

And here’s Jonathan’s Review:

Cosmojbm

We have flirted with the Cosmopolitan even though we had not tried it before. Sometime early in the blog, I erroneously referred to the Cosmopolitan in my proposal for a drink for the next week (either my research is faulty or David’s editing has corrected my idiocy because I couldn’t find the reference). I also stated that there is a similarity in the drink name between the Metropolitan and Cosmopolitan, even though there is no similarity in the drink.

The base of this week’s proposal is the neutral spirit vodka. There is always some criticism about vodka drinks, some deserved and some not. The deserving part, in my opinion, is when people insist on particular brands of vodka despite combining them with mixers that completely mask any taste even if there was some. The underserving part is to completely dismiss vodka because it is neutral. That lack of presence allows the other ingredients to stand out more. That is a quality accentuated in this drink.

We tried a couple of different recipes for the Cosmo. The first was true to David’s link and combined the vodka, Cointreau (I did use another brand), lime juice and cranberry juice. The benefit of the orange liqueur in this version was both body (from the brandy base) and taste. The negative was that the color was slightly off from what I expect a Cosmo to be since there is little cranberry. To adjust, I increased the cranberry in the second recipe and used Triple Sec for the orange taste. That one was lighter and more cranberry-er but lacked the depth of the first. Both benefitted greatly from fresh lime juice and probably would have from fresh cranberry if I could have figured out how to juice those little suckers.

The Cosmopolitan could be the drink that defines the negative of shelf ready mixers. Most of my experience with this cocktail has been a quick mix of one of those and vodka. The drink is easy, the look and color are right, but the taste is sugary and off. If you have ever turned your nose up at the thought of this once trendy drink, try it again with fresh ingredients. Worth it.

Jonathan’s take: The base alcohol makes a difference, but if you’re going neutral there is still hope with the right mixers.

David’s take: Though I love sweet drinks, I’d love to play with some of these proportions and try some orange bitters and less Cointreau.

Next week (Proposed by Jonathan):

There was a time, may still be for all I know, when Jagermeister shots were very popular in bars. That was not my time. I had read recently that other liquor/liqueur producers have tried to replicate that success. One of those is Tuaca an Italian liqueur with flavors of herbs and vanilla. There is a cocktail called the Livorno that combines that liqueur with bourbon and bitters and that’s where we are going next week. I just hope I can find Tuaca.

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9 thoughts on “The Cosmopolitan

  1. Jonathan, you need a food mill to juice cranberries and you’d probably have to still strain it to get out any seeds that escaped. Not worth it in my humble opinion, but you both have gone to great lengths on some of these drinks!

  2. Too much trouble for me, Alison!

    For the record, I DID edit out the Metropolitan-Cosmopolitan confusion reference in Jonathan’s review because I’d already noted it in my description of the Metropolitan:

    One more note, don’t confuse this drink with the vodka cocktail also called The Metropolitan. Names, apparently, are also subject to secondhand discovery. The vodka Metropolitan is closer to a Cosmopolitan.

    I suppose I could have, maybe should have, edited my reference out and kept Jonathan’s. Next time. And there will be a next time. We brothers often think alike…

    • I think I speak for Jonathan is saying we’ve accumulated quite a collection of glasses since we started this blog. Unfortunately, they break easily, and now I have one of many types. Add that to the trouble of finding a new place or way to photograph cocktails, and you see what challenges I face… though the challenge has rewards too, of course. Thanks for visiting! –D

      • I know what you mean! I seem to have 3 of everything as I typically buy sets of four. I’m also constantly struggling for some interesting background or barware for pictures. I love when I get the chance to play mixologist at someone else’s house. The on going joke amongst our friends now (because of my picture taking) is “Man it takes a long time to get a drink around here”!

      • That’s happened to me too! I try to be quick about taking photos, but no one seems to have much patience when a cocktail is in the offing.

  3. Reblogged this on Vodka Manberry and commented:
    A very fancy way to ingest a #vodkamanberry. Looks good to me. I say go for it. And don’t you dare let that macho jerk Steve say you’re not a man. You just look him straight in the face, down that bad boy in one, and then make out wit his hot girlfriend Cynthia.

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