Cosmopolitan – A Classic Cocktail

The Cosmopolitan Cocktail is beautiful, refreshing and delicious with vodka, cranberry juice, lime juice, and orange liqueur

Cosmopolitan Cocktail on Marble Surface with Cocktail Shaker in Background.

One of the first references to the Classic Cosmopolitan Cocktail is a gin, Cointreau, lemon, and raspberry syrup mix that was published in 1934 in the Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars 1903-1933.

In the 1970’s, the Cosmopolitan that we know today is credited to a South Beach bartender named Cheryl Cook although as is typical with cocktail creations, many have laid claim to creating the Classic Cosmopolitan Cocktail.

Want to save this recipe?
Enter your email & I’ll send it to your inbox. Plus, get great new recipes from me every week!
Save Recipe

Considered a riff on the Kamikaze; the original cocktail utilized a citrus-flavored vodka combined with orange liqueur and a splash of cranberry juice.

Cosmopolitan Cocktail in Front of Vodka Bottle and Silver Shaker

The Classic Cosmopolitan Cocktail is a very simple drink and it quickly became very popular, peaking in the 1990’s because of its multiple appearances in the HBO show, Sex and the City. Every young woman wanted to emulate Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda.

Heck I have a daughter who was too young to watch the series when it first came out but we watched it together years later when she was in college and she named her first dog Charlotte! Beautiful sweet Charlotte with the long dark hair (she was a Springer Spaniel from the local rescue).

Both by reference to that show and it’s girly pink color it’s synonymous with being a girls drink but I think that’s a shame.

Made correctly, the Cosmopolitan Cocktail has a great citrus taste and is not overly sweet. Guys…if you’re eating quiche, you can SO do this too!

There are hundreds of variations on the Cosmopolitan (often simply called a Cosmo), some use more or less cranberry juice, some triple sec instead of Cointreau, and some include a citrus vodka like the original.

I like to keep truer to the original and since I had just made some of my own orange infused vodka, I was set and I thought this vodka was perfect.

Truth is, plain is fine too but if you’re buying some in order to make this cocktail, try Ketel One’s Oranje; they’e my favorite brand of vodka and I think the versions made with lemon and orange are the best…subtle flavors that enhance a cocktail, not overpower it.

The Classic Cosmopolitan Cocktail is a blush pink, not the bright red you so often get in bars and restaurants today.

I’ve indicated a range in the amount of cranberry juice to use; I so prefer the less is more approach but if you like more? Go for it.

Cosmopolitan Pink Cocktail on Marble Table with Lime Garnish

So have to share this little story with you. I wanted to rim the glass with something but didn’t want to bring out the ‘thou shalt NEVER rim a Cosmopolitan Cocktail’ trolls so I did a search to see if I was way off base; if it was being done by bartenders.

Big mistake; I just wanted to put something fun on the rim of a cocktail glass for crying out loud! In this instance Google thought I meant Cosmopolitan as in magazine and rimming as in something sexual. Ye-gads no! Don’t be like Barb; trust me and use powdered sugar!

PIN IT! ‘Classic Cosmopolitan Cocktail’

Cosmopolitan Cocktail on Marble Surface with Cocktail Shaker in Background.
Cosmopolitan Pink Cocktail on Marble Table with Lime Garnish
Cosmopolitan Cocktail on Marble Surface with Cocktail Shaker in Background.

Classic Cosmopolitan Cocktail

The Classic Cosmopolitan Cocktail is beautiful, refreshing and delicious with vodka, cranberry juice, lie juice, and orange liqueur.
5 average from less than 50 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Course Cocktails, Friday Cocktails, Vodka
Cuisine American
Servings 1 Cocktail
Calories 196 kcal


  • 1 ½ ounces vodka or citrus vodka
  • 1 ounce orange liqueur
  • ½ ounce fresh lime juice
  • ½ ounce cranberry juice
  • Lime peel for garnish


  • Chill glass in freezer.
  • Remove glass from the freezer, rub the edge with a lime slice and dip it in powdered sugar that you’ve spread on a plate.
  • Fill cocktail shaker with ice and pour in vodka, orange liqueur, lime juice and cranberry juice. Shake vigorously until the shaker is ice cold.
  • Strain into the chilled glass.
  • Garnish with a lime peel and serve.


Nutrition Facts
Classic Cosmopolitan Cocktail
Serving Size
1 Cocktail
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Keyword cosmopolitan, cranberry, vodka, cocktails
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Similar Posts


  1. Orange-infused vodka?! I’m not a well-versed in cocktails, but I could definitely start with this one. And the idea of rimming it with powdered sugar is genius, plus having the sugar on top of lime juice sounds heavenly!

    1. The powdered sugar was perfect; pretty without really changing the flavor of the cocktail much. Now that I’ve tried it I’m hooked; it will happen again!

  2. my favorite part of this is your orange infused vodka – I would love that whole beautiful jar, please! I have to make my own, and soon.

    I agree, if made correctly (or the way I like them!), a cosmo is not overly sweet – this sounds perfect!

    1. I’ve long wanted to make orange liqueur but that would require removing the rind and not the pith and take a couple of weeks to finish; this was so much quicker and not pithy either! 🙂

  3. A cosmopolitan was my mother’s favorite drink. If we went out, she always ordered one but would never make it at home. I asked her once why she didn’t do that and she said if she learned how to make one at home, she’d drink too many.

    If she saw yours, she’d want more than one. 🙂

    1. They are easy to make for sure but I get your mom’s hesitation too! I’ve ordered them out a lot too but think the ‘homemade’ one is better so there is that.

  4. It’s a close thing between a Cosmopolitan and a frozen (classic) margarita for my fave cocktail. Had the best one ever in Stockholm of all places. Will be a big challenge to make my first one at home. Great post.

    1. I hope you try it; they are really pretty easy to make and such fun to serve too. Let me know!

  5. I don’t much like to rim the glass of a Sidecar with sugar, but a Cosmo is really a riff off a Sidecar (among other drinks) where you often see it, so why not? The sugar sure does look pretty. I read someone somewhere who suggested replacing the vodka with corn liquor (which is often clear). Moonshine, basically. 😉 Have no idea how it tastes, but sounds like a fun idea! Maybe we could call that version of the drink The Hamlet. 🙂

    1. Sometimes the only reason I want to rim a glass is for the look; too often a plain glass of liquid is just too plain looking in a photo. I loved using powdered sugar; barely discernible as far as taste or texture but a pretty look. While vodka might not have much taste, what it does add is that bite; I’m not sure I could handle this with moonshine…isn’t that 150 proof or something outrageous? I do use 100 proof vodka when I’m making liqueurs or infusions and that’s about as much as I can handle! Of course ‘The Hamlet’ would assume something like that huh? 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.