Saturday, May 24

The Cosmopolitan, Sex and the City

My wife is driving me nuts with Sex and the City. She has been watching her DVD collection incessantly since she learned of the upcoming movie. She has the desktop background of Carrie emblazoned on her computer. She is shopping for clothes and shoes worn by the cast (which are not cheap mind you). And yes, she is of course drinking the drink that was made ever so popular by the show... the Cosmopolitan.

Back in 1996 this pop culture phenomenon hit the scene on HBO and hooked millions of women. In our household it was a weekly Sunday night ritual for six seasons. Her girlfriends would come over and join us for dinner, drinks, and Sex and the City. I now have to make a confession as well... I do like the eye candy.

So, with the buzz of the new movie coming out on May 30, 2008 and my wife's obsession I felt compelled to write the obligatory Cosmopolitan post.

Thanks again to Gary Regan and his cocktail archaeology we today know who had a part to play in the invention of this modern classic cocktail. As with most cocktails the Cosmo went through a couple of phases to get to what we now consider a Cosmopolitan cocktail. The original however is credited to Cheryl Cook who bartended on South Beach, Miami for 15 years. (25)

As the story goes, while bartending in 1985 Cheryl notice a big resurgence of the Martini but more specifically the coolness of holding a cocktail glass. Her keen observation lead her to notice that people would order a Martini or a Vodka Martini but did not necessarily like it all that well, but rather they did it too be chic. So when Cheryl received a brand new product from her Absolut rep called Absolut Citron she took on the challenge to create a new "pretty" drink that could be served in a cocktail glass. (25)

Cheryl went to work and whipped up a mixture of "Absolut Citron, a splash of triple sec, a drop of roses lime juice and just enough cranberry to make it oh so pretty in pink." She then served it up to her first guest Christina Solopuerto and within 45 minutes the entire restaurant had a Cosmopolitan in front of them. (25)

This formula in Cheryl's mind was simply a Kamikaze using Absolut Citron and adding a splash of cranberry juice. The cocktail was named after the magazine Cosmopolitan which has the styles and design she was trying to project with her new drink... and Voila! a new cocktail is born. (25)

This drink was wildly popular in Miami for the rest of Cheryl's crazy 15 year tenure in South Beach. Somehow the drink made its way in this form to both San Fransisco and New York City, at which point our second player in this tale comes about and his name is Toby Cecchini. (25)

By the time Toby was introduced to the drink in 1987 it was bastardized to the point of using plain vodka, Roses lime juice and grenadine, pink yes but not too close to Cheryl's version. So Toby put on his mixology hat and re-invented the drink using Absolut Citron, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, and cranberry juice. This is now the Cosmopolitan ingredients used today. (25)

A few years later Dale DeGroff also experienced a variation of Cheryl's Cosmo formula that called for Citron, Roses, and cranberry juice. He too used his experience behind the stick to improve the drink. He uses fresh juices, added Cointreau and used his proven sweet to sour formula to come up with the now standard recipe for the Cosmo. In 1996 Dale brought the drink to the Rainbow Room in New York City and shortly there after stars such as Madonna were spotted with the drink to kick off the modern Cosmo craze. (23)

So how did the Cosmopolitan jump onto the screen in the HBO series Sex and the City? Was it because the New York moguls experienced Dale's fabulous version at the Rainbow Room? Or was it the fact that the Sex and the City costume designers Patricia and Rebecca Fields were faithful customers of Cheryl Cook's down on South Beach several years before? Whatever the case it did happen and the inclusion of the pretty in pink cocktail catapulted a modern classic cocktail into every bar in America.

With the new movie just around the corner you can be sure to see many women in bars holding their designer bag, wearing their designer dresses and shoes, while sipping on a designer Cosmopolitan (at least I know my wife will).

1.5 oz Absolut Citron
0.5 oz Cointreau
0.25 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1 oz Cranberry Juice

Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish. I've seen the garnish for the Cosmo to be: a lemon twist, flamed orange peel, or lime wedge.


Sex and the City Image courtesy of HBO file photo


Anonymous said...









Anonymous said...

I'm so excited by Sex and the City the movie! Here's an interview with Sarah Jessica Parker:

Anonymous said...

Hey Bar Mix Master.... As the majority of women are, I am also extremely excited about the movie coming out on the 30th! And like all the other women I plan on making a night of it. I'm going to a late showing so my girlfriends and I can do dinner and cosmos before hand. I plan on making the drinks at home (with your recipe) and will be cooking dinner also. What would you suggest as a good pairing?? Since it's typically a sweeter drink I'm not sure the best food to cook. Seafood is out (one of my girls hates seafood) so what would you recommend?? Since I'm hosting the big even I want it to be PERFECT! THANKS!!

barmixmaster said...

How about... leek papaya patties and zucchini enchiladas not cooked over 118 degrees OR shrimp with vegtables in brown sause with cold noodles from the local chinese takeout OR prehaps masive slices of new york style pepperoni pizza.

Seriously thought...

What you are looking for a good balance between spice, acidity, sweetness and bitterness. Just off the top of my head I'd go with something like a spicy shrmp cocktail, scallops, or a nice grilled fish with lemon butter sauce.


Anonymous said...

I really think that the Cosmo is both the most over-rated and yet under-respected cocktail out there. What most bars serve up is awful, and I scoff at anyone who orders more than one (or doesn't send the first one back, for that matter). But when done right, the Cosmo deserves your label of "Modern Classic".

All that said, I know it was invented to have something to do with Citron, but I really think they taste much better with plain Vodka. With the significant amount of real juice, lime and cran, that both you and I use, the flavored vodka is gilding the lilly.

Anonymous said...

Allow me to reinforce how paramount the use of real Cointreau is to this drink. A lesser brand of Triple Sec simply doesn't cut it.

Also, spend the extra $2 and get decent cranberry juice. Ocean Spray Cranberry juice cocktail is an abomination to a cosmo recipe.

Brendon said...

I question the Cheryl Cook story... If we agree as per that ever so convenient interview with Cheryl, that her recipe included Absolut Citron... How was the drink created in 1985, when the release of Absolut Citron was not to happen until 1988? Ocean Spray cranberry was released in 1930, the Kamikaze came about around the 40's... would it really have taken 40 odd years for someone to clue on to the idea of adding a little colour to a Kamikaze to appease their female clientele?

asphodelia said...

I must be the ONLY woman on earth who has never watched the S&TC movie. I made it to half of Season 2 on DVD years later and got bored. That's the reason why I won't try Cosmpolitans. I should but it annoys me that I'll immediately be associated with S&TC, like, 'oh, there's the GIRL'....
Anyway, I love your site!