Cosmopolitan Cocktail Dry or Sweet, It's Your Choice

Two Cosmopolitan Cocktail Drinks
Steve Lupton / Getty Images
  • 3 mins
  • Prep: 3 mins,
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: 1 serving
Ratings (21)

The classic Cosmopolitan is a very simple drink and it quickly became one of the most popular cocktails of all time. Its peak was in the 1990s because of its multiple appearances in the HBO show, "Sex and the City" and it soon became the ultimate girly drink. However, the drink is much older than that.

Most bartenders know how to make this light, fruity martini and it is a great choice for a casual night out. There are hundreds of variations on the Cosmo; some use more or less cranberry juice, some triple sec instead of Cointreau, and some include citrus vodka. It's all a matter of personal preference.

This first recipe will create a Cosmopolitan with a drier profile. It is blush pink rather than red and not too sweet. Many cocktail enthusiasts consider this a traditional Cosmopolitan as it is more in line with classic Martinis.

If your tastes run to the sweeter side, there is a Cosmo below for you as well. You are encouraged to try both. After all, you will not know which you really prefer until you get a taste of each.

What You'll Need

How to Make It

  1. Shake the ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  3. Garnish with an orange peel.

Tip: No matter which Cosmopolitan you choose to mix up, this is the time to break out the good vodka. Your taste buds will thank you.

The Sweeter Cosmopolitan

If you prefer a sweeter cranberry flavor in your Cosmo, then this is the recipe you're looking for. It is that signature crimson cocktail that is so often served in cocktail lounges and it is the version that most Cosmo fans are familiar with.

You will notice that the cranberry juice is significantly more in this mix than in the previous one. This is where most of the drink's sweetness comes from and it is a very tasty drink.

To make the drink, shake and strain 1 1/2 ounce citrus vodka, 1/2 ounce each Cointreau and lime juice, and 1-ounce cranberry juice.

How Strong Is the Cosmopolitan?

The Cosmo can be as strong or as tame as you make it. Of course, if you choose to make yours with more cranberry juice, it will be a littler drink than the first, blush pink recipe.

Here is how these two Cosmopolitan recipes stack up with an 80-proof vodka:

  • Cosmo Recipe #1: 27% ABV (54 proof)
  • Cosmo Recipe #2: 20% ABV (40 proof)

You can see a significant difference between the two. To put the Cosmopolitan into perspective, the average Vodka Martini is 28% ABV. The fruity Cosmo is not as innocent as she looks and the sweeter the drink is, the easier it is to have one too many.

The Story of the Cosmopolitan

One of the first references to the Cosmopolitan is a gin, Cointreau, lemon, and raspberry syrup mix that was published in 1934 in the Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars 1903-1933. It was not until the 70s that the drink really took off and transformed into the modern vodka-cranberry cocktail.

At that time, bartenders all over the U.S. were experimenting with a cranberry version of the Kamikaze. And, as is common in cocktail stories, many people made the claim to creating the Cosmo that we know today.

Whose story is true? It's very likely that a few of them happened simultaneously.

You have to remember that there was no internet to share your latest and greatest bar creations with the world. Instead, bartenders relied on word of mouth, bartending guides and organizations, and patrons to pass on recipes.

More Cosmopolitan Cocktails

The Cosmopolitan is so popular that it has inspired countless recreations over the years. Most of these have come out of the last few decades and play on the fantastic combination of vodka and cranberry.

  • Campari Cosmo - Adding Campari requires a fruit switch for this recipe though the orange does turn this into a lovely aperitif.
  • Crantini - If you really want to simplify the Cosmopolitan, skip everything except the vodka and cranberry.
  • Pink Honey Martini - Here we have a very interesting mix of vodka-cranberry sweetened with a honey liqueur and just a dash of sour mix.
  • Very Berry Cosmo - If you want something that's similar but unique, try this recipe that pairs acai-blueberry vodka with cranberry and brings Chambord into the mix.
  • Watermelon Cosmo - It's as simple as picking up a fun bottle of watermelon liqueur!