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May 7th is recognized as National Cosmopolitan Day. Not to be confused with the Kamikaze, the Cosmopolitan includes vodka, lime juice, Cointreau, and topped with cranberry juice producing the classic distinctive color. Just as it’s unclear how May 7 was selected to annually celebrate the drink, the origins of the Cosmopolitan also have a fuzzy past.
The first reference to a cocktail bearing the Cosmopolitan name dates back over 80 years ago with a book published in 1934 titled “Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933.” The book contained a cocktail “Cosmopolitan Daisy” which shared a very similar recipe to the modern-day version of the cocktail, containing raspberry syrup and gin instead of cranberry juice and vodka.
The official credit for creating today’s version of the Cosmo is up for dispute among bartenders in Miami, Manhattan, and Provincetown. The most widely recognized version of the cocktail’s creation is given to Toby Cecchini of the Odeon in Manhattan in 1987. The Odeon has been a beacon of nightlife dating back to the early ‘80s and was a popular destination for SNL cast members. As the story is told in Robert Simonson’s “A Proper Drink: The Untold Story of How a Band of Bartenders Saved the Civilized Drinking World,” Cecchini began tinkering with the recipe after a fellow bartender at Odeon relayed a popular drink that was making the rounds in San Francisco that consisted of rail vodka, Rose’s lime juice and Rose’s grenadine. He swapped out the grenadine with fresh lime juice and Cointreau and the Cosmopolitan was born.
Others credit Cheryl Cook, head bartender of the Strand Restaurant in South Beach, whose recipe included vodka, a splash of Triple Sec, a drop of Rose’s lime juice and splash of cranberry juice for the cocktail’s distinctive color. Additionally, there are those who credit bartender John Caine for first concocting the classic recipe in Provincetown, MA who then took the drink with him west to San Francisco where it gained more popularity. This version would ultimately swing back into Manhattan’s Odeon where Cecchini gave his treatment to the classic Cosmo.
Then of course there was that HBO show debuting in the late 90’s and two subsequent movies that would give the Cosmopolitan renewed popularity for every vodka drinking woman. While Carrie and company didn’t create the classic cocktail, they certainly helped make the Cosmo a standard on any bar’s cocktail menu.