The Controversial Cosmopolitan

I have mixed feelings about the Cosmopolitan. I’ve lamented before about the Vodka Boom of post-WWII America and its effect on cocktail culture. The flavorless nature of vodka means it can be mixed with almost anything, and as such, it became the dominant spirit in America from the 1960s through the 90s. On the whole, more traditional cocktail artistry went underground during these decades, but strangely enough, it was a vodka drink that helped it reemerge.

While several bartenders claim credit for inventing the Cosmopolitan in the 1970s (the most likely originator being Cheryl Cook of South Beach Miami), the drink achieved its highest popularity when Dale DeGroff standardized the recipe and made it a staple at the Rainbow Room in New York City. The Cosmo became a drink of celebrities —most notably Madonna—, and it gained pop culture significance as the signature drink of Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw. Of course, the drink’s association with Sex and the City, its bright color and sweet flavor, and its standard presentation (neat in a chilled cocktail glass with an orange or lemon twist) make it one of the definitive “girly drinks,” but the masculinity and femininity of cocktails could be its whole own series of posts. (Hmm… now there’s an idea. More on that later.) Anyway, here’s the basic recipe:

CosmopolitanThe Cosmopolitan
1.5 oz vodka (preferably citrus vodka)
3/4 oz Cointreau
1/4 oz lime juice
1 oz cranberry juice
Shake and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with orange or lemon twist.

Love it or hate it, the Cosmopolitan’s ubiquity (spurred on by Sex and the City) helped bring cocktails back into the mainstream of pop culture, setting the stage for the classic cocktail resurgence a decade later. And as Jessi and I stared at a mysterious plastic bottle on our counter yesterday, I knew the Cosmo would be making a comeback in our house as well.

[assuming 1950s melodrama narrator voice]
What was the mysterious bottle?
What cocktail would Tom and Jessi make with it?
Tune in tomorrow to find out!

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