Cocktails often come with a hefty dose of lore and legend—we may never know who poured the first mai tai, for instance. The cosmopolitan cocktail is no exception.
Before Sex and the City made it a national sensation, the pink drink was popular in the queer communities of Provincetown and San Francisco. Legendary bartender Dale DeGroff and a Miami woman named Cheryl Cook are often credited with inventing the modern cosmo recipe. But Toby Cecchini, who owns Long Island Bar in Brooklyn, seems to have the most plausible story from his days bartending at New York icon The Odeon.
As he told former BA editor Priya Krishna in an oral history of the drink, a colleague’s friends were visiting from San Francisco in the late 1980s and showed them the drink. “It was gross, but it looked pretty,” Cecchini recalled. He reconstructed it with Absolut Citron vodka, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, and cranberry juice to approximate Rose’s grenadine. The drink became a hit with the staff and their celebrity and downtown Manhattan clientele.
A classic cosmopolitan recipe—like this one—should be vibrantly hued and sweet from a “cranberry juice cocktail” like Ocean Spray (a bottle labeled 100% cranberry juice will be too tart here). The drink should have a floral citrus note from a triple sec (like Cointreau) or another orange liqueur and a refreshing tang. The type of cocktail glass is also crucial: Only a martini glass will do. (However, we will also accept a coupe.)
Check out more classic cocktail recipes like an extra-dry martini with a lemon twist, a Moscow mule, and a negroni.