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Photo by Joseph De Leo, Food Styling by Kaitlin Wayne
  • Active Time

    5 minutes

  • Total Time

    5 minutes

In popular memory, the cosmopolitan cocktail had its heyday in the late ’90s and early aughts courtesy of Carrie Bradshaw and the women of Sex and the City. But the drink’s history actually predates World War II and iterations have made the rounds (in New York, Provincetown, San Fransisco, and elsewhere), ebbing and flowing in popularity since that time.

The modern version of this classic cocktail recipe is widely credited to Toby Cecchini, who served it at the Odeon in the late ’80s to celebrities like Madonna and Sandra Bernhard. Citrus vodka was newly on the scene and he saw the cosmo as a great vehicle for the spirit. Orange liqueur is the second component—the go-to is Cointreau, which is vibrant and not-too-sweet, but any floral, warm dry Curaçao would also work well. Our version calls for Rose’s lime juice, a sweet-tart syrup; for a more bracing cocktail, feel free to swap in fresh lime juice instead. Cranberry juice provides the signature rosy color and another hit of tang (sweetened cranberry juice cocktail, such as Ocean Spray, is the move here). 

The usual garnish is a lime twist, which adds some balancing bitterness to the drink, but you could opt for an orange twist to bring out the floral flavors of the liqueur. For full SATC vibes, serve your cosmopolitan in a martini glass—or use another cocktail glass (we love a coupe or a Nick and Nora) for something a little more contemporary.


Makes 1 drink

1¼ ounces Absolut Citron vodka (about 2½ tablespoons)
¼ ounce Rose’s lime juice (about ¾ tablespoon)
¼ ounce triple sec or Cointreau (about ¾ tablespoon)
2 ounces cranberry juice (¼ cup)
1 cup ice cubes
Garnish: lime twist

Step 1

In a cocktail shaker combine all ingredients. Shake well and strain into a martini glass.

Step 2

Garnish drink with lime twist. 

Editor’s note:This recipe was originally published in the July 1995 issue of ‘Gourmet’ and first appeared on Epicurious in August 2004.For more of our best vodka cocktail recipes, head this way→

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  • Finally I can make an awesome Cosmo from scratch by myself! Delicious! Used regular Absolut vodka, Grand Marnier, regular lime and cranberry juices. This recipe is a keeper!

    • ataramt

    • Israel

    • 8/30/2014

  • Riffed on this for a girls nite - unflavored vodka w lite pomegranate/blackberry juice cocktail, rose's lime and splash of Drambuie (!) when I realized I had no Cointreau, triple sec or Grand Marnier. Just the tiny hit of Drambuie gave it a nice complex spike and cut the sweetness. Blackberry garnish w lime slice. It was good enough to make over, and over, and over!

    • Anonymous

    • North of Boston

    • 2/20/2012

  • When I lived in Boston, one of my favorite bars would make me one with no cranberry, and a touch more vodka--I suppose in a modern world, someone will call this a "Citrus Martini," but it was delicious, and great for those of you afraid to hold a pink drink!

    • mcpguru

    • 1/19/2008

  • Lovely and refreshing! Easily doubled/tripled for guests. Throw some cranberries into each martini glas at Christmas time for a festive look!

    • Anonymous

    • Toronto, Canada

    • 9/22/2007

  • Used Grey Goose L'Orange vodka, cheap triple sec and followed the recipe exactly. It is PERFECT!

    • 123misskit

    • Eagle Rock, CA

    • 5/22/2007

  • Would I make this drink again? Silly question! About 3 times a week. I change it up using Pomegranate juice, of course for the anti-oxidants or the diet version with the unsweetened cranberry juice using Splenda to sweeten. Oh, and I use Grand Marnier, unflavored vodka, and plain lime juice, not Rose's. This is the best and easiest ever.


    • Southampton, N.Y.

    • 2/16/2007

  • lovely. Used cran-raspberry juice and currant vodka. Garnished with lime and cranberry. Good proportions. A very pink drink.

    • Anonymous

    • Washington DC

    • 4/29/2006

  • With Stoli Raspberry vodka, this is delicious!!

    • Lexi

    • Boston

    • 4/28/2006

  • Here are some changes to consider: Consider: for a less sweet version, use pomegranate juice instead. Also, I have grand marnier, so that's what I use. People rave about this pomegranate version. They love, love, love it!

    • Anonymous

    • Walnut Creek, CA

    • 3/7/2006

  • Use raspberry vodka. Perfect.

    • edgeinsma

    • The mitten state

    • 2/16/2006

  • For this recipe to be perfect, you MUST use Cointreau (not triple sec) and FRESH lime juice. Another nice variation is to substitute Chambord (rasberry liqueur) for the Cointreau.

    • Anonymous

    • CT

    • 12/30/2005

  • This is a perfect cosmo recipe! I agree with the commenter who says to make a pitcher and set on ice. My guests loooooved this cocktail.

    • jmoore99

    • Cincinnati, OH

    • 6/14/2005

  • Fantastic ..... Yum!!! Yum!!! Better than what the best bartender could ever make. Make it by the pitcher and set in the ice bucket to keep chilled. The best way to get your vitamin C.

    • toots44

    • Rhode Island

    • 1/1/2005

  • Perfect! My guests raved, even one who had never had a Cosmo before. They are sweet, but not syrupy sweet and go down quite smooooooothly...

    • doughgirl

    • Downingtown, PA

    • 1/1/2005

  • One of the best Cosmopolitan recipes out there! I floated fresh cranberries in each glass for a festive holiday presentation. Will serve throughout the holiday season.

    • Anonymous

    • Cincinnati, OH

    • 12/12/2004

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