Journey Through the Cosmos: The Cosmopolitan

Hello, cosmonauts! (Okay, I’m buzzed, and even I know that’s a terrible joke. Sorry.) This week on Six Drinks Too Many I’m exploring the fancy little pink thing known as the Cosmopolitan (hence the terrible cosmonauts thing). I’ve got eight Cosmo recipes to look at. This drink owes a lot of both its recent popularity and reputation to Sex and the City. That reputation, that’s really the kicker. This is generally regarded as the most frou-frou of the well-known frou-frou drinks, a libation only acceptable for girly girls and flaming gay men to drink. And if we’re to believe certain conventional wisdom that part of that group is going to Hell, then the Cosmopolitan should truly be avoided at all costs.

NAY I SAY! The Cosmo is actually a pretty good little cocktail. It’s a good version of the sour template, and it has a pretty interesting (and satisfying) taste for a drink with its reputation. Plus, the way it’s put together really lends itself to experimentation and variation. At its most basic level, it’s just a base liquor, a sweetening liqueur, a souring agent, and a fruit juice for coloring and body. With that template, you can do some great stuff with the humble Cosmo if you don’t change too many of the ingredients..

So, let’s get started.

Original Cosmopolitan

  • 1 1/2 oz Lemon or Citrus Vodka
  • 1 1/2 oz Triple Sec
  • 1 oz Lime Juice
  • 2 dashes Cranberry Juice
  • Lemon Twist

cosmopolitan-025So, interesting fact, the original Cosmopolitan was actually a bit of a stiffer drink than it is now, with the cranberry juice included only for the pink color. Thus, the alcohol-to-mixer ratio was a bit higher. To think — if it weren’t for the cranberry juice making this drink pink, men everywhere could drink this without fear of ridicule.

Anyway, this is quite good. The lime juice is actually really noticeable, and the two alcoholic ingredients balance out each other really well to make a smooth flavor. If you have a Y chromosome, you still might find it difficult to order this at a bar. I understand. I’ve been there bro. But you can’t let this system of oppression tear you down. Fight the power, and drink what you want to drink. Because, if made well, the stiffer Cosmo might just make you stiff.

So, shake the liquid ingredients with ice, and strain into a cocktail glass. Rub the lemon twist around the rim of the glass, twist it over the drink and drop it in. And while I’m here, I might as well tell you that you make all of these variations (except one) the same way, but not all are garnished with a lemon twist. Therefore, I’m not going to rewrite how to make these drinks every time. Also, while I’m here, any time you see lemon twist as a garnish, a lime wheel or lime wedge is also acceptable (or, you can even think of your own quirky garnish — just don’t get to adventurous there, Indy).

Side note: Unless otherwise noted, these recipes call for lemon or citrus vodka. However, regular vodka is acceptable, your drink just won’t be as interesting. Although, if you do use the appropriately-flavored vodka, Absolut Citron is generally accepted as the best choice. It’s what I use, and I must say, it is excellent.

Moving on!

Contemporary Cosmopolitan

  • 2 oz Lemon or Citrus Vodka
  • 3/4 oz Triple Sec
  • 2 tsp Lime Juice
  • 1 1/2 oz Cranberry Juice
  • Lemon Twist

cosmopolitan-0301Order a Cosmo at a bar, and you might get something closer to this than the drink above. It’s pretty alright. The increase in cranberry juice makes it smoother, and the decrease in lime juice lets you really taste the vodka. So, if you like a good liquory taste, this is for you. If not, maybe reduce the amount of vodka by a half ounce. Definitely use a good vodka for this one, either way.

So, this is good, and there’s not really not much more I can say about it. I mean, I can say that frat boys shouldn’t diss this drink, ’cause this will get you drunk faster than all the butt-chugging in the world. But, if I did say that, it would be disgusting. Therefore, I will not mention the act of stuffing alcohol up one’s anus in an effort to get drunk faster at all, and simply say that this drink is pretty strong, so don’t mock it.

Blue Raspberry Cosmopolitan

  • 1 1/2 oz Raspberry Vodka
  • 3/4 oz Blue Curacao
  • 1/4 oz Lime Juice
  • 1 oz White Cranberry Juice
  • Raspberries

cosmopolitan-022This one is something I came up with, but as always, I’m sure some enterprising individuals have concocted similar cocktails before me.

This was inspired by my childhood love of blue raspberry flavored candy. I’ll fully admit that this is really a novelty cocktail, but damn, it’s really good. It’s like a childhood playground and alcohol all in one — which, in any other case is a terrible idea and could land you a court date. However, in this case, it is quite good, and not at all illegal.

So, make it normally, and garnish with the raspberries. Drink it, and imagine how much better your childhood would have been if vodka was a part of it. Or, maybe that’s a terrible idea. Kids, don’t drink and play. Actually, kids, don’t read this blog. Just, like, visit it every week so I get the traffic. But don’t read it!

FYI, this drink is a little tart, so feel free to add some sugar or simple syrup if you want it sweeter. Sweeten it to your own taste. You can also use the pre-bottled sweetened lime juice, but that sort of has a weird flavor.

Grape Cosmopolitan

  • 1 1/2 oz Grape Vodka
  • 1/2 oz Triple Sec
  • 2 tsp Lime Juice
  • 1 oz Grape Juice
  • Grapes

cosmopolitan-031Once again, this is my own recipe, and, once again, I’m sure I’m not the first to make one of these drinks. This drink and the last are examples of the cool things you can do with the Cosmo template, and the Cosmo template is a great thing to look at if you have some flavored vodka that you’re not sure what to do with.

In any case, there are few things in this life that are as good as artificial grape. It’s probably the only reason I ever took cough syrup, and therefore the only reason I didn’t die from a cold as a child. I don’t care if it doesn’t taste like real grape — sometimes imitation is better. Artificial grape is like the best fake breast the plastic surgery world has to offer.

Anyway, this drink is good. Feel free to experiment with the proportions, but be careful — it’s really easy to make this taste absolutely awful.

Make it like the other Cosmos, but with the grapes as garnish. Also, use whatever type of grape juice you want. It’ll taste mostly the same, but the color will be different.

Rum Cosmopolitan

  • 1 ½ oz Light Rum
  • 1/2 oz Triple Sec
  • 1/4 oz Lime Juice
  • 3/4 oz Cranberry Juice
  • Lemon Twist

cosmopolitan-035But why is the rum gone? Good news! It’s not! I’m drinking it right now! Hooray!

So, I like vodka more, but this version isn’t bad at all. Though, be wary. Vodka is a neutral spirit, with a very subtle flavor (yes, it does have a flavor, and anyone who says different has never tasted vodka), whereas rum, even light rum, has a very noticeable flavor. It’s still a very good drink, but if you’re not prepared to taste that rum, it’ll surprise you. However, the strong taste is worth pretending you’re a pirate that just so happens to enjoy frou-frou drinks. And that’s really the best kind of pirate, isn’t it?

So, this is worth a taste, and it’s better if you keep with the theme and use citrus flavored rum instead of regular rum, but vodka is still better. If you like rum a whole lot, you might like it better than the vodka version, but to me, this is just a drink to have out of curiosity, or if you completely lack vodka. It’s definitely not bad at all (in fact, it’s really good), but it’s still rum in a place where vodka should really be.

Make it like a regular Cosmo, but with the pirate liquor instead of the Communist liquor.

Speaking of swapping liquors…


  • 2 oz Tequila
  • 1 oz Triple Sec
  • 1/2 oz Lime Juice
  • 1 splash Cranberry Juice
  • Lemon Twist

cosmopolitan-038So, this is kind of a dumb drink. Why? Look at the ingredients, and you’ll notice that it’s basically a Margarita with some cranberry juice and no salt. It also has a lot of alcohol and not a lot of juice

That means that this tastes nothing like a Cosmo and everything like tequila. And for me, that’s not a selling point. I don’t dislike tequila in the least, but it’s not very high up on my spirit list. For me, it goes vodka and gin, rum, then tequila, and then way down there is whiskey. And then brandy brings up the disgusting, disgusting rear. Tequila and I are on good terms, we’re just not on hanging out without other friends terms yet, you know?

So, if you like tequila, you’ll like this, and the name is also a lot of fun. But really, this just doesn’t taste like a Cosmo, and you might as well make a Margarita. Maybe bringing down the amount of tequila will change that, but I wouldn’t reduce it more than a half ounce, and even if you reduced it more, tequila has a very strong taste. No matter what, this is a Margarita with some cranberry juice. Don’t trick yourself into thinking otherwise.


  • 1 ½ oz Lemon or Citrus Vodka
  • 3/4 oz Triple Sec
  • 1/2 oz Limoncello
  • 1 oz Cranberry Juice
  • Lemon Twist

cosmopolitan-043So this is a drink.

Okay, that’s not fair. It’s quite good. It tastes just great. However, it really fucks with the Cosmo template by replacing the souring agent with something that isn’t really sour. Limoncello is great, but it isn’t sour. Therefore, the Cosmocello is a step away from the Cosmopolitan, as it is no longer a sour-style drink. It’s closer to a cooler at this point.

With every other recipe in this post, you’ll notice that lime juice is an ingredient. The lime juice isn’t just there for flavor, though. It’s there to add sour to the drink. That’s why it’s always there, even in small amounts — lime juice tends to be the go-to souring agent with lemon juice. So, if you replace it with an ingredient that isn’t sour, it just doesn’t make sense anymore. So, this is really a good drink, but it’s completely different. Also, there are probably better uses for your limoncello.

So, mix it like you do. If you have limoncello and you don’t know what else to do with it, then this is a fine choice. Otherwise, meh.

Final drink!

Southern Cosmopolitan

  • 1 ½ oz Peach Vodka
  • 1/2 oz Triple Sec
  • 1/4 oz Lime Juice
  • 1 oz Peach Nectar
  • 3-4 Mint Sprigs

cosmopolitan-0481I’m not sure what makes this Southern, but it is damn good. It doesn’t taste that much like a real Cosmo, but it is an excellent example of using the Cosmopolitan template to do something really cool and delicious and interesting. This drink is peachy with a nice hint of mint, and I guarantee you’ll like it. You are human, after all.

And this just so happens to be the one drink that requires a bit more explanation in the mixing process, and that is thanks to the mint. So, first, rim your cocktail glass with a mint leaf. Then, shake the liquid ingredients with 2 or 3 mint sprigs and ice, and strain into a cocktail glass. Finally, garnish with a beautiful, beautiful mint spring. And thus you have made an amazing and delicious variation on a drink that only half the population is normally allowed to drink. Enjoy!


What have we learned, cosmonauts? We’ve learned that you shouldn’t be tied down by what color your drink is or what sex organs you’re attracted to. If you want something fruity and frou-frou, well then that’s your natural right as drinker! Drink what you want to drink.

We’ve also learned that experimentation can be rewarded, and that alcohol can taste like candy. That’s not a suggestion that it should taste like candy, or that you should bribe people — especially short people who haven’t begun puberty yet — with candy alcohol. It’s just to suggest that there’s a drink for everyone. And that’s pretty far out, man.

Happy (responsible) drinking!

Happy (responsible) drinking!