The Liquor Cabinet

Fast easy cocktails: The Cosmopolitan comeback

You don’t need to have watched the Sex and The City reboot, And Just Like That, to embrace this ‘90s cocktail. Here’s our classic recipe, plus easy modern takes.

Fast easy cocktails: The Cosmopolitan comeback

There’s a scene in the TV series, Sex and the City, where Carrie is visiting her boyfriend out in the sticks. Desperate for some city comforts, she goes to a drive-through and yells her order through the car window: “A cheeseburger, large fries and a Cosmopolitan, please.” It was the perfect epitome of what the Cosmopolitan cocktail is all about – unabashed, decidedly feminine and quintessentially, deliciously, Nineties.


A Cosmopolitan recipe consists of three main parts: vodka, triple sec and a splash of cranberry juice that gives it its blushing hue. From there, it’s anyone’s game. The first recipe for a Cosmo originated in the 1934 cocktail book, Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars, which used gin and fresh raspberries to create a more orange-based tipple, although today a lime or orange peel are more preferred garnishes.


A modern pioneer of the Cosmo is Toby Cecchini, a New York bartender who reinvented the Cosmopolitan that had been very popular in San Francisco in the ‘80s, by swapping out lime and grenadine for fresh lime juice, and adding Cointreau. Here’s our take on the classic Cosmo that you’ll find in bars today:

How to make a Cosmopolitan cocktail



  • 45ml vodka
  • 20ml triple sec (Cointreau, or similar)
  • 20ml cranberry juice
  • 10-15ml fresh lime juice
  • Orange or lime slice (to garnish)
  • Ice



  1. Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously.
  2. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a lime or orange slice, depending on preference.

Tips and tricks for the best Cosmo cocktail

Over the decades many have experimented with creating the ultimate Cosmopolitan cocktail, from swapping out ingredients to switching up techniques.


Many Cosmo recipes today swear that the best brand of triple sec to use in a Cosmo cocktail is Cointreau – although bear in mind that it is a touch stronger than other triple secs (at around 40%), so you might want to reduce the quantity used. 


The vodka in your Cosmo is also vitally important. Cecchini uses a citrus vodka to amp up the tartness of the cocktail, and you could also go for a more premium vodka such as Hartshorn’s Sheep Whey, a multi award-winning liquor from Tasmania.


For an extra flourish, bartender Dale DeGroff suggests lighting a twist of orange peel over your Cosmo and letting the orange oils infuse your cocktail, before dropping the zest into the drink.

A twist on the classic Cosmopolitan cocktail

With a high ABV (alcohol by volume) content (although less than a martini!), the Cosmopolitan is a bold cocktail that still manages to be light and sweet. Here’s one version of the classic Cosmo that retains its vigour, while still keeping things pretty.

The white Cosmo

This interpretation has the appearance of melted snow, but we think it shouldn’t just be reserved for festive occasions.



  • 45ml citrus vodka
  • 30ml white cranberry juice
  • 15ml elderflower liqueur
  • 15ml fresh lime or lemon juice
  • Cranberries, for garnish, dusted with icing sugar




  1. Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker, shake, and strain into a martini or coupé glass.
  2. Using a cocktail stick, balance the cranberries atop each glass and dust with icing sugar.
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