The Cosmopolitan is a rose-tinted mixture of citrus vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, and lime.

In 1988 Toby Cecchini, a bartender at Tribeca’s famed Odeon, coined the cocktail informally called the Cosmo.

Toby Cecchini

Toby Cecchini

Photo by Benjamin Lozovsky/BFA.com

For a very few, when hearing the word cosmopolitan, the literal Oxford definition comes to mind: “an exciting and glamorous character associated with travel and a mixture of cultures.” For most, the fictional fashionista, Carrie Bradshaw of HBO series, Sex and the City who fancies her Cosmopolitan cocktail when out in Manhattan with her girlfriends, comes to mind.

Toby Cecchini

Toby Cecchini

Photo by Benjamin Lozovsky/BFA.com

Long before Mr. Big, the pink drink predated World War II. First called the Vodka Gimlet, mainly because something citrus had to be combined with the poorly produced vodka and gin at the time. Later, the Gimlet turned into a Kamikaze when orange-flavored Cointreau mixed with well vodka and oversweet lime juice. Then, in autumn 1988, cranberry juice was added to the sweet-tart formula, making a frothy, flushed sipper.

Toby Cecchini

Toby Cecchini

Photo by Benjamin Lozovsky/BFA.com

“Quickly after I concocted it, the Cosmopolitan became a downtown New York specialty. Something of an insider password within a select art, music, and acting crowd,” Cecchini recalls. Hip celebs (like Madonna) frequented the bustling, neon-lit Odeon for burgers, French fries, and chilly Cosmos. Sex and The City voguishly picked up the pretty cocktail, ten years later, and created a fashion for it.

“That was strictly due to the writers and producers on that show looking for ‘the’ New York drink, which The Cosmopolitan had become quite literally because I happened to be working at ‘the’ New York bar [in 1988], where the entirety of the city’s famous came out to play.” The namesake Cosmo remains top of the list at The Odeon—crafted with Cecchini’s initial ingredients: two-parts Absolut Citron vodka, one-part Cointreau, one-part fresh lime juice, one-part Ocean Spray cranberry juice (for its signature pink hue), and lemon twist atop.

“I think there are a few things that gave the drink its wings: that alluring pink color; the fact that it was presented in a Martini coupe … certainly its name, and the timely ingredients—citrus vodka and Cointreau,” explains Cecchini. “Though one can play about with ingredients and ratios ad infinitum, I don’t think you could give up any of these staple ingredients and still have a classic Cosmopolitan.”

Like a Paloma or Aviation, the Cosmo has remained as a running, recognized staple at bars. Drinkers, both old and young, can identify the frosty glass filled to the brim with pinkish liquid. “I’m more surprised than anyone that people are still talking about (and drinking) the Cosmopolitan—the drink never really went away,” he shares. Today, Cecchini tends the retro Long Island Bar in Cobble Hill, where he interacts with an eclectic crowd allowing him to play around with the classic cocktail in many ways to cater to one’s taste.

After 30-plus years of slinging hundreds of thousands of them on request, Cecchini has updated the Cosmopolitan. He created The Ginger Cosmopolitan, which swaps tart cranberry juice with homemade ginger syrup and a simple hibiscus infusion, both of which are easily prepared and invariably impressive to imbibers and Instagrammers. Another variation by Cecchini is The Cosmopolitan Highball, highlighting a lemon verbena, citric acid solution—an exciting alternative for the “basic” vodka-soda drinker.

“As such, the Cosmo can finally be enjoyed on its own merits by anyone who likes a great drink. It still seems to be a beloved go-to for a lot of people across the board,” he concludes.

The Ginger Cosmopolitan

The Ginger Cosmopolitan

Photo by Amy Lombard

The Ginger Cosmopolitan

Created by Toby Cecchini

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz. vodka
  • ¾ oz. Cointreau
  • ¾ oz. lime juice
  • ½ oz. ginger syrup*
  • ½ oz. hibiscus infusion*
  • Orange twist (for garnish)

Preparation: Shake all ingredients together over ice and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with an orange twist. *Ginger syrup: using an extraction juicer, juice fresh ginger. Add 2 parts sugar to 1 part fresh ginger juice, by volume, and mix very well, until sugar is dissolved.

*Hibiscus infusion

To 100 grams of dried hibiscus flowers, add 1 liter of boiling water and steep for 30 minutes. Strain and keep flowers for potential garnish.


The Highball Cosmopolitan

The Cosmopolitan Highball

Photo by Amy Lombard

The Cosmopolitan Highball

Created by Toby Cecchini

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz. citrus vodka
  • 1 oz. Cointreau
  • ¼ oz. lemon verbena/citric acid solution*
  • 4 oz. soda water

Preparation: Build in a highball glass half-filled with ice. Garnish with three cranberries, skewered, and a twist of lemon.

*Lemon Verbena/Citric Acid Solution

To every 200 grams of lemon verbena infusion, add 25 grams of citric acid powder and 25 grams of malic acid powder. Stir to dissolve.


The Original Cosmopolitan

The “Original” Cosmopolitan

Photo by Amy Lombard

The “Original” Cosmopolitan

Created by Toby Cecchini

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Absolut Citron Vodka
  • 1 oz. Cointreau
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz. Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail
  • Lemon twist (for garnish)

Preparation: Shake all ingredients together over ice and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.