Cosmopolitan Cocktail

How to make a Cosmopolitan at home:

A Cosmopolitan or “Cosmo” as more popularly known is little more than a posh Vodka & Cranberry, but the “Posh” bit is just a subtle, but really effective elevation of Orange.

30ml Vodka

15ml Triple Sec or Cointreau

45ml Cranberry Juice

1 Wedge Lime

Orange Zest (the skin of an orange, more on this later)

This is it.

The Method for making this drink is Shake & Strain, a term meaning we vigorously shake the drink in a cocktail tin, then placing a device on the open tin which will hold back the mixing ice. (Straining) This cocktail is then served in a glass without any further ice.

So for this cosmopolitan. You’ll find all kinds of options for shakers in your home.

Many of us, have those cute 3 piece tins that we got as a gift one time & have never even gotten it out of its box. This is that perfect time to bust it out of its packaging & put it to great use.

For those that don’t have a cocktail tin, its already 9pm on a Saturday night & you’re just looking for a recipe to try at home with a partner as you’re bored of the wine. There is an option to use anything around your home that seals.

Alternatives to a Cocktail shaker for making a Cosmopolitan at home:

As previously mentioned, if this is a spur of the moment activity late at night on a whim, you may not have all the items available.

You can also use a Tupperware container in the cupboard that seals. Pour all your ingredients in there & have at it.

On one of our online cocktail masterclasses, a few people came up with some incredible ideas, from using baby beakers, to Protein shakers they would take to the gym. They all work.

Where the Cosmopolitan came from:

There are a few disputes as to who came up with it, or where can claim to be the founding bar to incubate its birth.

But the parts we can write as definite. Is that the Cosmopolitan is derived from the famous cocktail shot, The Kamikaze. A shot made up of Vodka, Triple sec & Lime juice.

The most common story that surfaces, Is that a bartender was asked to create a cocktail which fits into a Martini glass because a bar wanted to use them as they were currently trending.

The bartender then apparently just poured cranberry juice into a Kamikaze & that was it.

The cocktail maker was clearly onto something, because it became an instant hit & a worldwide classic.

Its major fame though & the anchor point in which 95% of the people reading this would know. Was the hit US TV show. Sex & the City. Here in this entire series from beginning through to the finale. You can find Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte & Miranda all sipping on this Cosmopolitan Cocktail catapulting it to unfathomable popularity.

Sex & the City Cosmopolitans

Sex & the City Cosmopolitans

Should you use Citrus vodka in a Cosmopolitan?:

Recipes are only there for guidelines. Ultimately, you should make your own decision when it comes to making your own cosmopolitan cocktail at home.

If you’re going to stick to a core basic idea, that the Cosmo is an adaptation of a Kamikaze shot, then we would say “No” & to use lime.

However, some might just have that bottle of Citrus vodka at home & are dying to find a use for it.

When we are hired to go in as Cocktail Makers for private parties, the most common call we used to get was “Ive got a bottle of Citrus Vodka, can you make anything with it” The issue we find with this though. Is all the citrus lines of Vodka out there, all use Lemon as their citrus edge & while many would wonder what the difference even is. This is simply not correct to the original concept. Many also use Lemon in the Cosmopolitan too, while this might be your preference & you’re more than welcome to it. Or just at home in terms of making cocktails of the spur of the moment, this might be all you have at your disposal. So it would not be an incorrect ingredient, just more a variant of your interpretation of Citrus.

In addition to this, not everyone has the unlimited budgets or even storage space of having all these products readily available at home. To purchase a Citrus bottle of vodka, corners you in terms of usage for that bottle. As opposed to buying just normal vodka & purchasing lime.

For example, if you then on the following weekend wanted to try making Espresso Martini. You now have a Citrus bottle, not a standard one, so its just not interchangeable & if you were to use the Citrus vodka left over from your Cosmopolitan. You would have a strange citrus tinge in amongst your coffee cocktail.

So our recommendation would be for making Cosmopolitans at home. To use standard vodka & add lime.

Does my Cosmopolitan have to be in a Martini Glass?:

No, not at all. You’re making this Cosmopolitan at home, you can have it in whatever you like. The purpose of a martini glass is simple. If you try for a moment to think of, or treat cocktails like wine. Of course not in a direct sense. This cocktail took 2 minutes to make, not aged over multiple years.

However, in the sense of treating the nose as a valuable asset in tasting this drink, or any cocktail. The martini glass is hugely open at the lip, allows for your nose to reach right near the cocktail in order to take in its aromas. The nose counts for over 50% of taste receptors, so this would hugely affect how you taste the drink.

This is also why it is frowned upon to use a straw in any drink served in a Martini glass, because it defeats the purpose of why its there. For your nose.

The oils in the Orange zest are so fragrant, I use it as an exercise when making cocktails at events constantly. Getting people to taste the Cosmopolitan before the orange & then again, once its zested, to sniff the drink & taste again. It shocks everybody. The huge differences in this flavour profile, just from microscopic levels of oil from an orange zest.

What should I do with the Orange Zest in a Cosmopolitan?:

You need to take the skin basically away from the orange itself. There are 2 methods used by Mixologists. Firstly is with a peeler, Yes, its a tiny bit tougher than what you’re used to with a Carrot or a Potato. But it does the job well.

The other option is knife skills. To do the job with a peeler, but with a knife, this is my way, I prefer it, I work faster like this. But it is literally polar opposites in the world of bartenders doing their cocktail prep before a shift. The peeler users can’t use a knife, the knife users can’t use a peeler.

Then when your Cosmopolitan is all shaken, strained & sitting in its glass waiting for the final touch. Get your piece of Orange skin, hold the outer, Orange side towards the drink & just push the sides in, if you look closely, you will see the tiniest spray of oils come from the Orange Peel. This is what transforms your Cosmopolitan & really adds the Orange notes on the nose.

Orange Peel for Cosmopolitan

How to make a Cosmopolitan at home


Ive seen the Orange zest on a Cosmopolitan set on fire, is this right?:

Optional is the short answer & depending on what you would like the finished flavour profile to be.

Burning the Orange zest, when practiced is beautiful. It shoots out a tiny little burst of flame for a split second. For theatrics, this is brilliant, clients absolutely love it. However: Before you rush to go get a lighter & set the little Pyromaniac inside of you on an Orange. It will affect the end flavour.

The oil inside the Orange skin has an extremely low smoke point. Meaning it will burn upon this ignition & change taste profile to a bitter orange. If you wish to add that bitter touch, as so many people like it. Then Burn your orange peel.

This takes a little practice to get right, but same situation as before, face the Orange side of the peel towards the drink, I find if you hold the orange peel vertically, with your fingers holding the peel on the sides. It allows for the heat of the flame to go upwards without burning your fingers.

Then with the flame up against the orange side of the peel, squeeze the peel. Try to think of it in the style of the old school flame & Deodorant can trick many of us tried as teenagers.

Variations of the Cosmopolitan that you can make at home:

White Cosmopolitan:

Strange, but for this you make the drink the exact same way, only the Cranberry juice you would add. Is of a white variety. Keeping the entire taste of the Cosmopolitan the same, but creating a new element of aesthetic, by changing the colour of the drink.

White Cranberry juice is not easy to come by, so you would need to know you’re making this in advance. Thus ordering it online for delivery from somewhere like Ocean Spray

Raspberry Cosmopolitan:

This, you can crush or blend some Raspberries & simply add it to the drink to be shaken.

When we’re doing Hen Party Masterclasses & someone surprises us with one or 2 of the hens not drinking, we always revert to just using the Raspberries instead of the alcoholic items & making this in essence a Non alcoholic Cosmopolitan.


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