Cosmopolitan Cocktail Recipe

By Sina Torner / Last updated on July 30, 2023

In the 1990s, the Cosmopolitan was one of the most popular vodka cocktails. The legendary pink-hued drink usually comes in a Martini glass garnished with a citrus peel or wheel.
Cosmopolitan cocktail with lime wedge on light green background

The Cosmopolitan Cocktail or "Cosmo" became world-famous thanks to the cult series "Sex and the City". The cranberry-flavored sip was the favorite of Carrie Bradshaw, the main character. 

It didn't take long to gain traction outside the TV show. Regardless of whether you were or weren't a fan - there was no getting away from the Cosmopolitan Cocktail. No bartending shift was complete without preparing dozens for thirsty customers. 

Quick Facts Cosmopolitan Cocktail

  • Method: shaken 
  • Flavor profile: fruity, tart
  • How to serve it: straight up
  • Best glassware: Martini glass
  • Alcohol content: ~ 16.5%, 19 grams of alcohol per serving

During its peak in popularity, you could find countless riffs on the classic Cosmopolitan recipe. Today, the massive hype has faded, yet, the drink still is a staple on bar menus.

Cosmopolitan Cocktail

Recipe Cosmopolitan Cocktail

A Martini-style cocktail based on lemon-flavored Vodka that became world-famous due to Carry Bradshaw and her friends from "Sex and the City".
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cointreau, cranberries, lime juice, vodka
Servings: 1
Calories: 185kcal
Cost: $2.60


  • 1 Jigger
  • 1 Cocktail Shaker
  • 1 Hawthorne Strainer


  • 1 oz Ketel One Citroen Vodka
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • 1.5 oz Cranberry juice
  • 0.5 oz Lime juice


  • Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice.
    1 oz Ketel One Citroen Vodka, 1 oz Cointreau, 1.5 oz Cranberry juice, 0.5 oz Lime juice
  • Shake until the drink is well-chilled and strain into a chilled Martini glass.
  • Optionally garnish with a lime wheel or peel.


Serving: 4.25ozCalories: 185kcalCarbohydrates: 5gSodium: 1.5mgPotassium: 58mgSugar: 4.85gVitamin C: 9.95mgCalcium: 7mgIron: 0.1mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Ingredients for a great Cosmopolitan

You need no more than four ingredients to make a fantastic Cosmopolitan Cocktail:

  • Vodka: Generally, you can use any bottle of mid-shelf quality vodka for this cocktail. A popular recipe of NYC bartender Toby Cecchini calls for a lemon-flavored version. -He used Absolut's Citron Vodka. Also, our Cosmopolitan recipe includes lemon flavored Vodka, but we like to use Ketel One Citroen.
  • Triple Sec: Our go-to bottle for triple sec in cocktails is Cointreau, a premium product from France. It's dry and high in alcohol and simply one of the best triple secs out there. You can also use your open bottle for recipes like the Between the Sheets Cocktail, the Margarita, the LIIT, and many more.
  • Cranberry juice: I recommend the product from Ocean Spray - the company that had a hand in the game for the Sea Breeze Cocktail.
  • And finally, fresh lime juice: squeeze the juice of fresh, ripe limes to get that beautiful natural acid to balance the sweetness from the cranberries and complement the citrus vodka. 

Tips and Tricks for Mixing

Being a Martini-type drink, the Cosmo usually comes straight up in a stemmed glass. To make it perfect, follow these simple steps:

  • Chill the glass with some ice cubes while mixing the drink. Discard them and the melted water right before pouring the drink. 
  • Shake well for about 10 seconds to ensure all ingredients are well-chilled. The shaker tins should feel icy on the outside.
  • Use a Hawthorne strainer when pouring the drink. Since you use fresh lime juice, which may contain tiny bits and pieces, you can consider double-straining your Cosmo. Simply hold a fine mesh strainer between the glass and your Hawthorne strainer.
Cosmopolitan on wooden table

History of the Cosmopolitan Cocktail

The Cosmo first popped up sometime in the mid to late 80s. Who invented it is not 100% certain, though. Most sources credit one of three different bartenders as possible inventors of this 90s classic:

Number one is Dale DeGroff according to New York Magazine. They once claimed he created the first Cosmopolitan during his tenure at the bar Rainbow Room in NYC.

Others name NYC bartender Toby Cecchini with the invention of the cranberry-based recipe. Even if he wasn't, Cecchini for sure was one of the accelerators of the cocktail's success.

Finally, according to legendary barkeeper Gary Regan, the initial creator was someone else entirely. Gary Regan was a true master of mixology and had a column in the San Francisco Chronicle. According to him, bartender Cheryl Cook made the first version of the cocktail in 1985 in Miami South Beach, served in a Martini glass.

The latter two found further support in the early 2000s when Dale DeGroff himself stated he definitely did not invent the Cosmopolitan. But he admitted that he sees himself as one of the key actors:

What I did do was popularize a definitive recipe that became widely accepted as the standard.

Dale DeGroff, "The Craft of the Cocktail" (2002)

Either way, the cocktail had everything a drink needed in this era. Vodka cocktails were everywhere, and incorporating cranberry juice in cocktails has never been as popular as it used to be in the 90s.

Related Cocktail Recipes

If you want some inspiration on how else to make use of the ingredients you got for this Cosmopolitan Cocktail recipe, here are some ideas:

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