Cocktail Overhaul: Cosmopolitan

Cocktail Overhaul

Taking drinks from the Dark Ages of cocktails and revamping them, with delicious results.

Editor's Note: In Cocktail Overhaul, Jeff Lucas re-imagines drinks from what many consider the dark days of cocktails.


[Photographs: JL Studios]

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The Cosmopolitan is arguably one of the most influential drinks to come along in the past 25 years. It was the "it" drink of the nineties (thanks, Sex and the City.) The drink's popularity sparked a renewed interest in cocktails and ushered in an era of the -tini—an era, some might say, when drinks were prized for their appearances more than their flavor.

The original drink was created in 1985 at a bar called The Strand in Miami's South Beach. It was a mix of Absolut Citron, triple sec, bottled Rose's lime, and cranberry juice. Not long after that, Toby Cecchini and Dale DeGroff tweaked the recipe, bringing in fresh lime juice instead of Rose's, and the drink's popularity skyrocketed.

For this column, I wanted to update the Cosmo for today's tastes. Since replacing the bottled lime cordial with fresh lime had already been done, I thought about how to focus the flavors further, and play with texture a bit.

In Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, Ted Haigh writes about a drink called the Soyer Au Champagne which calls for effervescent sparkling wine and a scoop of ice cream in the center of the cocktail coupe. It's part cocktail, part dessert, and just the way to end an evening.

So in the place of cranberry juice, I used cranberry sorbet, which provides a rich red color and intense berry flavor. Its tart bite is balanced out by a subtle sweetness. If you can't find cranberry sorbet in the store there are several recipes to homemade versions on the Internet. One of my personal favorites is a cranberry vanilla sorbet from Lottie and Doof.

We top the drink off with a nice healthy float of sparkling wine, which fizzes on your tongue as you taste your way through tart cranberry, bright vodka, and fresh lime. The result: an upgraded Cosmo that's just as pretty as its predecessor.

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Upgraded Cosmopolitan »

About the Author: Jeff Lucas enjoys traveling the world in search of new cocktails and exotic spirits. You can follow him on twitter @the_mixlab and his blog at