Cocktail Recipes/ Party/ Valentine's Day

Cosmopolitan Cocktail

2 October 2021 By Aleksandra

This is my favorite recipe for the famous Cosmopolitan cocktail. This recipe is perfectly balanced – it’s not heavy on the vodka, it’s slightly sweet and not too tart. It’s such an easy and delicious cocktail – it’s fruity, refreshing, and has a distinctive flavor. You just need 4 ingredients to make it. This elegant cocktail is perfect for any occasion – you can quickly shake it up for an elegant party, girls’ night out, or for a cozy evening for two.

Cosmopolitan cocktail in a martini glass, garnished with an orange twist.

History of Cosmopolitan cocktail

The classic Cosmopolitan cocktail (aka “Cosmo”) is a simple and delicious drink that quickly became one of the most popular cocktails of all time.

The origins of the drink are disputed. It is said that it could be first mixed by Cheryl Cook in Miami, Florida. She was trying to develop a cocktail using the newly-released Absolut Citron vodka. Starting with a recipe for the Harpoon cocktail (vodka, cranberry juice, and lime juice), from a 1960s Ocean Spray ad, Cook added orange liqueur and citrus vodka.

John Caine gets credit for bringing the drink west and popularizing it in San Francisco.

The internationally recognized version is said to have been created at The Odeon restaurant in Manhattan by Toby Cecchini in 1988. From there the drink spread to the rest of lower Manhattan.

No matter the origins, the drink became famous in the 1990s thanks to the tv show “Sex and the City”. The pink-hued cocktail was a favorite of the characters on the show.

The Cosmopolitan cocktail is now considered an official IBA (International Bartenders Association) cocktail.

Ingredients

Here’s what you need to make a Cosmopolitan cocktail:

Labeled ingredients and tools needed to prepare Cosmopolitan cocktail.

Citron vodka: (lemon zest-infused vodka) This vodka is not sweet, it just has a slight lemon flavor. If you can’t easily find this kind of vodka – don’t worry. You can also use regular vodka, add a couple of drops of lemon juice and your cocktail will taste the same. I actually made two cocktails, one with regular vodka and one with lemon vodka, and tasted them side by side and I can tell you – the difference in flavor is not very noticeable! Sure, the lemon vodka has a subtle citrus flavor to it but it’s just not that noticeable. I must admit, it was not easy for me to find a lemon vodka – I have found it in the fourth grocery store that I visited. So if you can’t find it, don’t worry – regular vodka and just a couple of drops of lemon juice will work just fine.

Which vodka is best for cocktails? Can I be patriotic and say – use Polish vodka? Wyborowa, Chopin vodka, Żubrówka, and Belvedere vodka are great choices! If there is no Polish vodka available at your grocery store – other great choices are Smirnoff, Absolut vodka, or Grey Goose.

You don’t have to use expensive vodka for this recipe – its flavor is a little bit muted by cranberry juice.

Cranberry juice – you need to use sweetened cranberry juice also called cranberry juice cocktail. Pure cranberry juice would be too tart for this recipe.

What to do with leftover cranberry juice? You can make Malibu bay breeze or Sea breeze cocktail.

Orange Liquor – My favorite orange liqueur is Cointreau and this is what I recommend for this recipe. It has a great balance of bitter and sweet flavors.

Triple sec is an orange-flavored liqueur that originated in France. Its name means “triple-distilled”. It contains 15-40% of alcohol by volume. Brands of triple sec include Cointreau, Grand Marnier, or Triple Sec (yes, it’s a name of the brand and a type of liqueur). Cointreau is the best triple sec brand. It has 40% of alcohol and a great balance of flavors while Triple Sec can be around 15-30% and tastes more harsh.

Lime juice – use only freshly squeezed lime juice, don’t use the bottled stuff! Don’t use sweetened lime juice (like Rose’s), which is essentially sugar with a tart artificial lime flavor.

Tools needed for this recipe

A cocktail shaker – to shake all the ingredients with ice in order to cool the drink. If you don’t have a cocktail shaker any jar that can be tightly closed will also do!

A jigger to measure out the ingredients. If you don’t have a jigger you can measure out the ingredients with a shot glass which usually measures 1 1/2 fluid ounces. You may also want to check your egg cups! I measured mine and it holds exactly 30ml which is 1 fluid ounce!

A glass for cosmopolitan cocktail: traditionally a martini glass is used for this cocktail. It’s a conical glass shown on the photos. I also like to use a coupe glass (another type of cocktail glass) for this cocktail.

The Cosmopolitan is a sour cocktail and not a martini cocktail although it is served in a martini glass.

Step by step instructions

Citron vodka and orange liqueur are being added to a cocktail shaker.

STEP 1: Add a small handful of ice cubes into a cocktail shaker. Measure out 1 1/2 ounces of citron vodka and add it to the shaker.

STEP 2: Measure out 1 ounce of Cointreau and add it to the shaker.

Cranberry juice and lime juice are being added to a cocktail shaker.

STEP 3: Measure out 1 ounce of cranberry juice cocktail and add it to the shaker.

STEP 4: Measure out 1/3 ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice and add it to the shaker.

STEP 5: Close the shaker and shake for 10-20 seconds, until well-chilled.

STEP 6: Strain the cocktail into the prepared glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Serve and enjoy!

How to garnish the drink

You can garnish your drink with an orange or lemon twist.

How to make an orange twist:

  • cut a piece of orange peel about the size of your thumb, try not to get the white pith (it’s bitter)
  • twist the citrus peel over the drink so it releases aromatic oils into your cosmo and rub the rim of the glas with the peel
  • now you can garnish the glass with the peel or discard it.

Cosmopolitan is also often served with a flamed orange peel.

How to flame an orange peel for cocktails:

  • cut a piece of orange peel about the size of your thumb, try not to bend it for now
  • holding the piece of orange peel between your fingers over the glass, use a match to carefully warm it for about 10-20 seconds
  • twist the citrus peel so it releases aromatic oils onto the lighted match, igniting a flame which will settle on the surface of the drink
  • drop the peel into your drink or discard it.

How to double strain a cocktail

You may want to double strain this cocktail to get a clear cocktail without any lime juice particles.

If using a French-style cocktail shaker (pictured) or a regular cocktail shaker with a Hawthorne strainer you may still get some lime particles in your drink. So you may want to strain your cocktail again through a fine-mesh strainer.

Recipe variations

White Cosmopolitan – it’s made with white cranberry juice. Yes, I was also surprised that’s a thing! It’s made with natural white cranberries—they are harvested just a few weeks earlier than the red.

Raspberry Cosmopolitan – use raspberry juice instead of cranberry juice or muddle some fresh raspberries in your shaker before adding all the other ingredients.

Blue Cosmopolitan (it’s made with white cranberry juice and blue curacao)

Cosmopolitan Party Punch

Storage

Can you make this in advance? Yes, you could prepare this cocktail in advance. Store it in the fridge so it’s chilled. Make sure to shake it vigorously before serving.

You can also prepare this in a pitcher – simply combine 1 1/2 cups vodka, 1 cup Cointreau, 1 cup cranberry juice, and 1/3 cup lime juice. Serve it with ice.

Top tips

  • Use chilled glass to prepare this drink – you can either fill your glass with ice while you’re preparing your cocktail or place the glass in the freezer for 5-10 minutes.
  • Shake your cocktail thoroughly until well-chilled.
  • Measure out all the ingredients correctly. Adjust the drink to your taste, especially if you have used other brands of the ingredients than I did. Acidity of limes can vary so adjust the cocktail to your taste (I used ripe limes when developing this recipe).
  • Use fresh lime juice, not bottled lime juice. Do not use sweetened lime juice.
  • Use cranberry juice cocktail (sweetened cranberry juice) and not pure cranberry juice.

FAQ:

What is the best vodka for Cosmopolitan?

The best vodka for Cosmopolitan is Absolut Citron vodka.

Is triple sec the same as Cointreau?

Triple sec is an orange-flavored liqueur that originated in France. Its name means “triple-distilled”. It contains 15-40% of alcohol by volume. Brands of triple sec include Cointreau, Grand Marnier, or Triple Sec (yes, it’s a name of the brand and a type of liqueur). Cointreau is the best triple sec brand. It has 40% of alcohol and a great balance of flavors while Triple Sec can be around 15-30% and tastes more harsh.

What are the ingredients in a Cosmopolitan?

Citron vodka, cranberry juice cocktail, orange liqueur, and lime juice.

Who invented the Cosmopolitan?

The origins of the drink are disputed. The internationally recognized version is said to have been created at The Odeon restaurant in Manhattan by Toby Cecchini in 1988. The drink became famous in the 1990s thanks to the tv show “Sex and the City”.

What alcohol is in a Cosmo?

Vodka and orange liqueur.

Is Cosmopolitan a martini?

The Cosmopolitan is a sour cocktail and not a martini cocktail although it is served in a martini glass.

Cosmopolitan cocktail in a martini glass on a grey background, garnished with an orange twist.

Did you make this recipe? RATE THE RECIPE or tell me in the COMMENTS how you liked it! You can also add a photo of your dish. It would make me very happy and will help other readers. Thank you!!

Cosmopolitan Cocktail Recipe

This is my favorite recipe for the famous Cosmopolitan cocktail. This recipe is perfectly balanced – it's not heavy on the vodka, it's slightly sweet and not too tart. It's such an easy and delicious cocktail – it's fruity, refreshing, and has a distinctive flavor. You just need 4 ingredients to make it. This elegant cocktail is perfect for any occasion – you can quickly shake it up for an elegant party, girls' night out, or for a cozy evening for two.
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Cosmopolitan cocktail in a martini glass garnished with an orange twist.
Print Recipe
No ratings yet
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 0 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 1 cocktail
Calories 174kcal
Author Aleksandra

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 oz citron vodka or plain vodka + 6 drops of lemon juice
  • 1 oz orange liqueur such as Cointreau
  • 1 oz cranberry juice cocktail sweetened cranberry juice
  • 1/3 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
  • a small handful of ice cubes

Instructions

  • Add ice cubes into a cocktail shaker.
  • Measure out vodka, orange liqueur, cranberry juice cocktail, lime juice and add to the shaker.
  • Close the shaker and shake for 10-20 seconds, until well-chilled.
  • Strain the cocktail into a chilled cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with an orange twist (optional).
  • Serve and enjoy!

Notes

  • You can use a fine-mesh strainer to strain the drink if you don’t want any lime particles in your drink.
  • I used Cointreau orange liqueur for this recipe. You can also use other brands of orange liqueur for this recipe, such as Triple Sec, Grand Marnier but Cointreau is the best. Triple Sec tastes more harsh than Cointreau.
  • Use chilled glass to prepare this drink – you can either fill your glass with ice while you’re preparing your cocktail or place the glass in the freezer for 5-10 minutes.
  • Calories = 1 cocktail. This is only an estimate!
Course cocktail
Cuisine American
Keyword cosmopolitan cocktail recipe

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