Not All Recipes Are Good Recipes - Cosmopolitan Cocktail

Just because you see it in print, doesn’t mean it is a good recipe. Similarly to when good recipes can result in bad drinks, the flip side of that is when a recipe is just flat-out bad to begin with.

One thing that is important for any bartender (or consumer) to realize, is that not all recipes are “good” recipes. This problem is only exacerbated by the plethora of cocktail books that have come out on recent years. Often in an attempt to differentiate themselves, they go to great lengths to try to publish recipes that other books haven’t used. This can sometimes mean they are either dredging up long forgotten recipes that should never have existed in the first place, or trying to create new recipes through what often appears to be little more than a random recipe generator.

There are several ways that recipes can go bad. The typical bad recipe will start with a failure to understand the fundamentals the make for a good cocktail. There are several facets to this, which include: using quality ingredients, proper proportions of ingredients, proper usage of ingredients, and proper methodologies of making the drink. All of these are due to trying to create a new cocktail recipe before you should. Next there is just being downright sloppy with how a recipe is communicated, and leaving too much up to the imagination of the reader. And probably the biggest reason for bad recipes out there, is that many times the creator is more interested in making a drink that is “good enough” to get somebody drunk on, and not “great enough” for somebody to enjoy.

NOTE: In this video, when describing the “original” Cosmopolitan, I forget to mention the defining ingredient of the drink, the cranberry juice!

NOTE #2: And if you are interested in a “random recipe generator”, you’ll get a kick out of The Mixilator by Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh. It attempts to randomly produce cocktail recipes (and names!) by loosely using the cocktail structures described by David Embury in his book “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks”.


1 1/2 oz citrus flavored Vodka

1 oz Cranberry Juice

1/2 oz Cointreau or triple sec

1/4 oz fresh lime juice


Shake all ingredients with ice.

Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe.

Garnish with lime wheel if desired.


warrenbobrow 8 Jan 2015
12:50 pm

recipes go bad when the bartender doesn’t use high quality ingredients… flavored vodka is one of those not high quality ingredients… to infuse a lemon zest in some 100 proof vodka makes so much more sense instead of using something that possibly is artificially flavored and created in a chemical lab, instead of a distillery…
The Cosmo can be a perfectly lovely cocktail.. All it takes is great ingredients and a smile while you craft this little gem. I’d use something other than triple sec.. the flavor is much too cloying for this drink.  Perhaps a bit of the Clement Orange Shrubb?  Yes please.

blair frodelius 8 Jan 2015
2:02 pm

Every once in a great while I enjoy a lighter drink such as the Cosmo.  It really is a fine drink when using quality ingredients.  Actually, I think this is a perfect example fo a cocktail that needs to be accurately measured.  I have about 10 jiggers in my home bar that use regularly.  (someday I want to invent one that does it all) Overall, though, I think that experimentation using slightly different ratios can be quite helpful in discovering one’s own personal palate preferences.  My wife loves sours, but not too sour.  I like herbal and bitter drinks.  I’m always trying slightly different ratios and even differing ingredients (maple syrup vs. simple syrup) to see how it changes the overall aspect. 

Mixology is no different than cooking. 

And Warren, yes Clement Orange Shrubb is heavenly.  :)


Jesus Effingchrist 9 Jan 2015
7:59 am

Fee Brothers of Rochester, NY make a fine cranberry bitters that really makes this drink pop. Definitely recommend a few dashes in your next one.

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