It's Time to Make Cosmopolitan Cocktails Great Again

By Logan R. Brouse, July 7, 2017

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Logan R. Brouse, proprietor and mixologist of Logan’s Punch, has run bars and clubs in Shanghai for over six years. In between hangovers, he puts pen to paper in his column for That's to record his pontifications on the drink industry.


Did you know the telephone was invented by two different people in working in separate labs  – one by Alexander Graham Bell and the other by Elisha Grey? Or that calculus was created separately by both Sir Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz? Like science, mixology doesn’t work in a vacuum; there’s a cross pollination of ideas and trends that push forward the ever wandering gaze of innovation. 

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This serendipitous phenomenon is called multiple discovery, and it’s how the cosmopolitan came to be. So, reach for your shaker and chill that martini glass – because you’ll hanker for a drink when you hear this tale. 

Firstly, what is a Cosmo? I’m talking the proper kind, which is a play on a classic Daisy cocktail (spirit, citrus and flavor modifier) and definitely not the bright red cranberry vehicle made famous by Sex and the City. Not knocking Carrie and co., but every time I see that garishly red monstrosity I want to puke into my Fernet shot. A proper Cosmo should be a delicate shade of powder pink and bursting with citric boldness that takes your mouth directly to flavor country, not the sickly sweet artificial abomination that barges into the Mordor of the imbiber’s soul. 

sex-and-the-city-cosmopolitan.jpgSorry girls, but GTFO with those Cosmos. 

I digress. Who invented the Cosmo? Here’s where we get to multiple discovery. Back in the cocaine heyday of the late 70s, several mixologists in completely different bars started making this far out pink drink. It’s mostly accepted that New York’s Toby Cecchini (below) ramped up a version of something that California’s Cheryl Cook worked on, but there is also talk of a John Caine in San Francisco. Or was it the apocryphal story of Neal Murray out in Minneapolis, who while making a Kamikaze accidentally spilled some cranberry juice into his mix and called his creation ‘Cosmopolitan’ – to mean ‘worldly’?

cosmopolitan.jpgImage by Jon Vachon, via Life & Thyme

Either way, the cosmo quickly became a hit on the gay circuit thanks to its hip glassware and totally boss hue. Impresarios of the cocktail world like Dale Degroff and Gary Reagan took note. Degroff would add his own twist: a flamed orange peel, and other bartenders would switch from nasty bottled Rose’s Lime to freshly squeezed lime juice. Back in the 70s, fresh ingredients were unheard of, and the zesty flavors of the Cosmopolitan were the siren call of beginnings into a delicious new way of drinking. 

In the end, it doesn’t really matter who invented the drink, what matters is that it made Martinis and mixology cool again. It brought an end to shitty blue club drinks, and flew the flag for fresh ingredients that lit a spark in the cocktail community and birthed the modern movement of focused bartenders and astute consumers who pushed for creativity and innovation. 

For that we owe the cosmopolitan some gratitude, which you can repay by saying no to poorly-made red and syrupy sweet monstrosities. It’s time to make Cosmos great again, starting with the recipe below.

Classic Cosmopolitan Recipe

  • 1.5 oz. Citrus Vodka (regular will also do)

  • 0.25 oz. fresh lime juice

  • 0.25 oz. Cointreau

  • 0.15 oz. Cranberry Juice

Shake* all ingredients, strain in a martini glass and zest one orange. Serve to sexy motherfuckers in your nearby vicinity.

* Because there is juice in this cocktail, you want to use a long shake, not a short fast shake – you’re trying to get air into the cocktail and the fruit juice will become nice and frothy if you perfect it.

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See more of Logan's columns here

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