Cosmopolitan Cocktail

First arriving in the mid 80’s, the Cosmopolitan was “the” cocktail of the 90’s. While it is still popular today, some may avoid it less they be seen as simply “following the pack”. Since the Cosmo follows the classic-style formula of such great drinks as the Sidecar, Margarita, Daiquiri, and Aviation, there is nothing at all wrong with this drink, just be careful to make it with good quality ingredients.


1 1/2 oz Citrus Vodka 1 oz cranberry juice 1/2 oz Cointreau 1/4 oz fresh lime juice


Shake with ice. Strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with lime wedge.


niels marthinsen 29 Sep 2007
2:10 pm

dear robert hess

would you have any experience with cranberry liqueur in cocktails, particularlily as an improvement on cranberry juice?
there’s a finnish brand, karpalo, that might be fantastic in a ‘cosmopolitan’.

sinc. niels marthinsen

Robert Hess 29 Sep 2007
10:25 pm

There are a couple of different cranberry liqueurs on the market, but being a sweet liqueur, they would provide a different flavor profile. Instead of making a “fantastic cosmopolitan”, I’d focus on using them to make a “fantastic cocktail” which might appeal to somebody who otherwise ordered a cosmopolitan.

Opinionated alchemist 5 Oct 2007
8:38 pm

There are not a lot of choice of cranberry here in Dubai and Ocean Spray seems the best!
I’ve recently discovered, that O.S. also offers 100% cranberry juice.. (however not available in the U.A.E.) - Anyone using (or tried) it?

I am doing the Cosmopolitan with less cranberry (1.5 cl) to get a nice pink hue and to have it more on the Cointreau side…

Further as I like more the classic (European) bar, I am serving the Cosmo in a cocktail bowl (champagne saucer) as I see it as Medium Cocktail! Only Dry Cocktails (Drinks without juice, just containing spirit base, bitter, wine aperitif deserve the cocktail glass (aka martini glass)....

NIels Marthinsen 7 Oct 2007
2:43 pm

The Cranberry Liqueur i have (Karpalo) is extremely sweet and intense flavored - what I have found to balance it is this:

1 1/2 Gin
1 Lillet Blanc
1/2 Citrus Vodka
1/2 Cranberry Liqueur (Karpalo)
1 dash Orange Bitter

stir with ice, strain into cocktail glass

Mike S. 8 Oct 2007
12:24 am

Brilliant series of videos, thank you for putting them together.  I’ve just found them and spent the past few hours watching the lot, and annotating my edition of Craft of the Cocktail (don’t tell Dale).

My favorite joke about the Cosmo:  Man walks into a bar and orders a Cosmopolitan.  Bartender asks, “and for the gentleman?”  ;)  Seriously, though, it’s quite good when properly made and really hits the spot now and again.  One can only drink Manhattans so many evenings in a row.

I do agree about using citron vodka in this drink, but I never have it around.  I do, however, really love limoncello and usually have a bottle of Villa Massa in my freezer.  Making a Cosmo with regular vodka and a dash of limoncello works very well indeed.



Robert Hess 8 Oct 2007
4:48 pm

Nice idea about adding the dash of lemoncello. Expect that perhaps a dash or two of Fee’s (Or The Bitter Truth) Lemon Bitters would work well too.

My favorite (and supposedly true) joke about the Cosmo:

Man walks into a bar and orders a Cosmopolitan. Bartender reaches down grabs a beer, opens it, and sets it on the counter in front of the customer. Customer says “I said a Cosmopolitan”. Bartender replies “That’s the way we make them around here.”

Alex 27 Nov 2007
4:29 am

Cool, I never really thought of cranberry juice as a souring agent before. I suppose it is, though. This video also clears up some confusion I’ve been having on whether or not you’re supposed to shake a drink that’s only got a very small amount of a cloudy ingredient in it. Now I know.

I, too, have a bottle of cranberry liqueur, and no idea what to do with it. I’m not sure if it’s the same brand as what’s discussed above (note that “karpalo” just means “cranberry” in Finnish), mine is called Lapponia, and is also Finnish. Niels, I must try your recipe once I’ve gotten hold of some orange bitters. You got a name for that cocktail?

oliver 27 Dec 2007
6:24 am

there is another drink called The Cosmopolitan and it is from the 1930something, first printed in a small book named Gin Drinks For Elite Bars:
2 oz Gin
1/2 oz real Grenadine Syrup
1/2 oz Cointreau
1 oz Lemon Juice
Historicaly both drinks have nothing to do with each other except the name and the color(!).
In our place we have a competition Cosmo 80 vs. Cosmo 30 (that means you can order both to compare them). Up to now it counts 29 : 9 for the Cosmo 30.
If you try it use a little less of grenadine an Cointreau.

Robert Hess 27 Dec 2007
7:42 am

The book you are thinking of is “Pioneers of Mixing Gins at Elite Bars”, published in 1933. The recipe presented in the book was:

Jigger Gordon Gin
2 Dashes Cointreau
Juice of One Lemon
Teaspoon Raspberry
Glass No. 4, Shake and strain.

(Glass No.4 was a 3 1/2 ounce goblet)

Juice of an entire lemon is WAY too much for this drink. A proper recipe woudl be along the lines of:

1 1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/4 oz Cointreau
1 tsp Raspberry syrup

Oliver 28 Dec 2007
7:38 am

Thank you Robert, i forgot our little modernisation. As you know a lot of drinks with raspberry syrup changed to grenadine (or pommegranate) syrup so we do. also the style of cointreau changed a lot by the way. but with both recipes it is quite a good drink.

Mark 4 Mar 2008
4:46 pm

Robert, I’ve been realizing that it’s difficult to always have the various juices around (cranberry, orange, pineapple, coconut milk, etc.) due to expiration dates, souring, etc.  I love having a great variety of drinks available to my guests and myself, but this often leads to some ingredients being neglected and going bad.  Are concentrates the way to go?  Maybe I should buy small amounts of each ingredient.  Or is the answer in just getting over it and being happy that most of these ingredients are cheap?  Just curious as to the way you think home bars should deal with this situation.

Robert Hess 4 Mar 2008
6:28 pm

For cranberry, pineapple, and tomato juice, I usually buy them in the very small cans, which keep for quite a while unopened. For creme of coconut, or coconut milk (which are two different things), the standard cans are the smallest I’ve found. For orange, I usually use fresh squeezed, with a couple small cans in the fridge just for “emergency” usage for those times when I really need some orange juice “now”, and don’t have any fresh oranges on hand.

blair frodelius 6 Apr 2008
11:59 am

I’ve often wondered if it is better to use 100% cranberry juice, cranberry cocktail or even try white cranberry cocktail.  Apparently some stores even carry a 100% unsweetened cranberry juice.

Anyone have any experience with these?


Fred 5 Mar 2009
5:27 am

You shook this even though it is a clear spirit. On the Martini show you insisted on stirring. Why is this different?


Robert Hess 5 Mar 2009
5:43 am

It’s not the “spirit” which dictates shake/stir, but the “ingredients”. If a recipe includes any cloudy/opaque ingredient, that indicates it could be shaken instead of stirred. In this case the drink includes lime juice, which is slightly cloudy, so you might as well shake it since it won’t end up clear/transparent anyway.

So you shake drinks such as the Cosmopolitan, Margarita, Sidecar, Daiquri, Last Word, etc. But should always stir Martini, Manhattan, Rosita, Bijou, Petrucio, etc.

IanRafferty 1 Jun 2009
5:03 pm

Im somewhat suprised regarding the fact that a flaming orange zest as garnish has not been contributed.  The carmelised juices from a flaming orange zest into the drink, then coated around the rim add an extra dimension to the orange flavours with an extra freshness.

Robert Hess 1 Jun 2009
5:25 pm

A flaming orange zest can indeed help this drink out… but something that I personally helps even more, is a dash of orange bitters :->

ospalh 26 Aug 2010
10:05 am

The bit about the cranberry juice vs. cranberry juice cocktail has been a great help.
When i hear/read “juice” i automatically think of the German “Saft”, and only 100% pure, unsweetend juices can be sold as “Saft” here.

So i found some bottled Cranberry"saft” which was
*unfiltered (cloudy)
*quite tart
*and very expansive (

Dominik MJ aka the opinionated alchemist 26 Aug 2010
11:48 am

For the cranberry juice [100% juice] you need to be quite carefully - 100% juice doesn’t mean 100% cranberry! Usually it is made on the base of grape or apple juice - as cranberries are just too tart. Real cranberry is a game changer - as the cranberry cocktail is really only a filler [with some coloring] - is really changes the taste dramatically.
Even more important is, to only use a small splash [or less]...

For the juices, I am a fresh fetishist! Nothing is as good as fresh lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, apple, pineapple - even tomato or cranberry juice in a cocktail.
And most of the time, the fruits keep much longer fresh, than an open can.
But the best way, to keep it fresh is, limit the offered cocktails.

In all cook shows people are talking against frozen and conserved food - so we “cocktail-connoisseurs” supposed to apply this in our own place as well…

Fewer selection of cocktails - but much better quality…

Post a Comment

You must be registered and logged in to post comments.

Login to Comment register new account

remember me