Behind the Drink: The Cosmo

Cocktail historians Jared Brown and Anistatia Miller recently discovered the recipe for a gin-based drink called the Cosmopolitan that dates back to the early 1900s. But the Cosmo as we know it has been around for not much more than a couple of decades, and it’s one of the few classics that we can trace back to its creator. Well, sort of…

Three people can legitimately lay claim to creating the Cosmopolitan. Bartender Cheryl Cook came up with the original formula in 1985 when she worked at a bar called The Strand in Miami’s South Beach. She used “Absolut Citron, a splash of triple sec, a drop of Rose’s Lime Juice and just enough cranberry to make it oh so pretty in pink and topped [it] with a curled lemon twist.”

Not long after that, in New York City, Toby Cecchini, who was working behind the stick at The Odeon restaurant in TriBeCa, tweaked the recipe by replacing the Rose’s with fresh lime juice. Dale DeGroff did more or less the exact same thing at the famed Rainbow Room. Both of these joints catered to celebrities, and the drink really took off.

Cook dropped out of the bar scene for a while, but she contacted me in 2005 after hearing that I’d been trying to track her down. How did she convince me that she was the real deal? One sentence did it: “[It’s] merely a Kamikaze with Absolut Citron and a splash of cranberry juice.” Spoken like a true bartender.



Contributed by: Gary Regan


  • 1.5 oz Citrus vodka
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • .5 oz Fresh lime juice
  • 1 or 2 Dashes cranberry juice
  • Garnish: Lime wedge
  • Glass: Cocktail


Shake all the ingredients with ice and strain the mixture into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Gary Regan is the author of numerous books about spirits and cocktails, including The Joy of Mixologyand The Bartender’s Gin Compendium. He is also co-host of and advisor.

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  1. This is the drink that made Sex and the City made so famous! If after reading this article you feel like having a modern day cosmo, check out my recipe! Enjoy!

    Jen’s Cosmo
    2 oz vodka
    1 oz. triple sec
    splash of cranberry juice
    juice of 1 lime wedge
    Pour all ingredients in a shaker. Shake until shaker is ice cold. Pour into a chilled martini class. Garnish with a slice of lime.

  2. […] there are competing tales of its origin, it rocketed to fame in the late 90s as the drink of choice for Carrie, Amanda, Charlotte and […]

  3. […] You might have first heard of the Cosmopolitan cocktail from Sex & the City. But lo and behold, mixologists came up with it… long before the show even hit HBO. So, yeah, it’s pretty obvious who leads the trends. […]

  4. […] heard of the Cosmopolitan cocktail from Intercourse & the Metropolis. However lo and behold, mixologists came up with it… lengthy earlier than the present even hit HBO. So, yeah, it’s fairly apparent who leads the […]

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