“How cosmopolitan” … the birth of a cocktail legend


Synonymous with Carrie Bradshaw and the late 90s television series Sex and the City, the Cosmopolitan is one of the most popular cocktails available. It is so popular, in fact, that it has its own international day on 7 May, when its deliciousness is universally celebrated. And although the Cosmo became entrenched in pop culture in the 90s thanks to Carrie and friends, the drink has been around for decades. Let’s have a look at what makes it so popular.

When made properly the Cosmopolitan is a deliciously refreshing drink. Comprised of vodka, lime, cranberry juice and Cointreau or Triple Sec, the Cosmopolitan has a complex flavour profile with sour notes from the lime, sweet from the Cointreau/Triple Sec, and a kick from the vodka. It is fruity, sweet, tart and light all at the same time.

Like many cocktails, the origins of the Cosmopolitan are hotly debated. Some say it began as a Vodka Gimlet in World War II, later becoming a Kamikaze and then morphing into the Cosmo we know and love today in the 1980s when cranberry juice was added. Others who have laid claim to its creation include Toby Cecchini, a bar owner from New York who said he invented the drink in the 80s. Another popular theory is that it evolved from a drink called The Harpoon that was created in 1968. The Harpoon included vodka, cranberry juice and lime and was created by Ocean Spray, one of the largest cranberry companies in the United States. While this recipe is close to the Cosmo, it does not include the Cointreau and/or Triple Sec.

Neal Murray, a bartender from Minneapolis is another who has claimed that the Cosmo was not only his creation, but that he was also responsible for the name. Murray says that after experimenting with different versions of the Kamikaze cocktail, he tried adding cranberry juice to it in 1974. Legend has it that the name was born when the first person to try the new concoction exclaimed “how cosmopolitan”.

Irrespective of its origins, there’s no doubting that the Cosmopolitan is one of the most famous cocktails in the world. There’s endless variations on the classic Cosmo if the pink drink is not quite right for you. A White Cosmo substitutes in white cranberry juice instead of the traditional pink; while a Kiwi Cosmo features chunks of kiwi fruit in a concoction of melon liqueur, lemon juice, and white grape juice.

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