The origins of this drink is a hard one to pin point. It’s possible the Cosmopolitan is based from The Daisy which was created in the late 19th Century. The Daisy is a combination of spirit, citrus drink, simple syrup and an orange infused liqueur. Many drinks use this blend as a base, one other being a Margarita.
Up until 1968, Ocean Spray’s largest market targeted children. They decided to expand their market to adults and began printing the recipe on every label for the cocktail named The Harpoon: vodka, cranberry juice and lime. However, this is missing the essential cointreau.
Who morphed it into the Cosmopolitan?
A very similar drink is in print in The Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars, published in 1934.
Jigger of Gordon’s Gin ( 1 1⁄2 oz Beefeater)
2 dash Cointreau ( 1⁄2 oz Cointreau)
Juice of 1 Lemon (1 oz Lemon Juice)
1 tsp Raspberry Syrup (1 tsp homemade)
Cheryl Cook, a bartender in 1970 South Beach, created the new blend for consumers who requested something easier to swallow than a traditional martini, something sweeter.
Neal Murray claims to be the first to have made the drink in Minneapolis at the Cork and Cleaver in 1975, He added a splash of cranberry to a drink called the Kamikaze. The Kamikaze is vodka, triple sec and lemon juice.
Story #4 (My personal favorite)
John Caine lived in Provincetown, Massaschusetts, which is near a huge cranberry producing region. It makes sense that, when he moved to San Francisco in the 1970’s, he brought the recipe for the cosmo with him since he claims to have been experimenting with cranberry juice.
He now owns numerous bars in San Francisco and believes the increase in popularity of the cocktail happened during the 70’s when it was being served in Fern Bars. This is a slang name for preppy/yuppy bar (remember these terms from your younger days?) that catered to singles and were decorated with ferns and tiffany lamps.
Read more on John Caine, nominated for Man of the Year by the Leukemia Lymphoma Society.
In 1987, Toby Cechini created this drink while working at The Odeon in Manhattan. This establishment was THE place to be in the 80’s and 90’s so the cosmo skyrocketed to success along with the Odeon. Even Saturday Night Live held casting parties here. Oddly, the current menu does not contain the drink however, any server there will how to make it. They’ve created a new variation with the Ginger Martini.
From there, Madonna and the popular tv show, Sex and the City brought the drinks’ notoriety to new levels.
Worth noting, Melissa Huffsmith also worked at The Odeon in 1987-88 and used Absolut Vodka, cointreau, cranberry and lime juices which is today’s standardized version.
The Cosmo makes it first actual literary existence in 1993 in New York City according to Sally Ann Berk, author of The New York Bartender’s Guide and Bob Sennett, author of Complete World Bartender Guide.
Generally, a Cosmo is made with vodka and there are so many variations.
Your guess is as good as mine. The popularity of the Cosmopolitan has worn off in recent years but lucky for us, it spawned a generation of talented mixologists.
At Ace Mercado, in Ottawa, I recently encountered Marty (no last name). Hey, when you’re THIS good, you don’t need one!
You can play with the colors by swapping out the triple sec/cointreau and using blue curacao to make a purple cosmopolitan or white cranberry juice for a white cosmo. A Francilian substitutes sangria for the cranberry juice.
For fun, watch Marty, of Ace Mercado create his frozen dacquiri, where ALL of his drinks are his specialty and performed with flair!
Posted by Kim Ratcliffe-Doe on May 7, 2017