The television sitcom, Sex and The City, did wonders to the bottom line of two gifts of the New Age—the Rabbit, which, I am told, many women prefer to men, and the Cosmopolitan, which, again, many women prefer to men. (The drink, not the magazine).
The origin of this gorgeous-looking cocktail is shrouded in mystery. By most accounts, it was the emblematic drink of the gay community in Provincetown, Massachusetts, in the 1970s, which became mainstream after a San Francisco bar owner named John Caine made it popular throughout the Bay area.
It also helped that Ocean Spray was promoting its cranberry juice sourced out of New England in the 1980s. So, just as the Martini’s transformation from an old-fashioned gin cocktail to one made with vodka owed a lot to Smirnoff’s marketing honchos, the Cosmo became famous because of a cranberry juice craze that swept America in the health-obsessed 1990s.
Even now, if you ask any qualified bartender— such as BT MORE’s
consultant for this month, Vaibhav Singh, Beverage Manager of The Imperial, New Delhi— chances are he’ll root for Ocean Spray over Real. Superficially, Ocean Spray isn’t as cloying and sweet as Real, though Real has the picture-perfect Cosmo colour. But the sweet thing is important—a Cosmo must never be overwhelmed—so if Real is all you have, a few drops of fresh lime juice will offset the sweetness.
Caine’s classic Cosmo consisted of vodka and cranberry juice, but the recipe was refined by Cheryl Cook, a bartender from South Beach, Florida, who recommended “Absolut Citron, a splash of Triple Sec, a drop of Roses lime and just enough cranberry to make it oh-so pretty in pink.” But the recipe most bartenders replicate is the one developed by the Manhattan bartender, Toby Cecchini. It adds Cointreau and freshly squeezed lime juice to the vodka. I just love it!
Since bartenders love to mix and match ingredients, it’s hard to believe that there aren’t more versions of the Cosmo out there. The thought of the Cosmo being confined to a straitjacket made me get in touch with Vaibhav, who obliged me with two more recipes—Quirky Cosmo and Cosmo Indian.
They looked easy to make, so get down and make them to taste the difference.Classic Cosmo
Pour 45 ml vodka (preferably one with a citrus flavour), 15 ml Cointreau, 45 ml cranberry juice and ice cubes into a Boston shaker, which is a nifty bartender’s aid you can buy easily. Give the combination a good shake or two and strain the cocktail into a frosted Martini glass. To get the frosted effect, keep the glass in a fridge for 5-10 minutes. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel. Quirky Cosmo
Microwave 45 ml of cranberry juice with two cloves and a stick of cinnamon for about a minute-and-a-half. Add the infused juice to 45 ml vodka and 15 ml Cointreau in a Boston shaker. Give the ingredients a good shake or two and strain the cocktail into a frosted Martini glass. Garnish with a stick of cinnamon.Cosmo Indian
Muddle a teaspoon of tamarind pulp and half a teaspoon of ground fennel (saunf) in hot water. Strain the liquid through a muslin cloth. Infuse 45 ml cranberry juice with this extract and add to 45 ml vodka and 15 ml Cointreau in a Boston shaker. Give the ingredients a good shake or two and strain the cocktail into a frosted Martini glass. Garnish with a sprig of south Indian mint. A few drops of raspberry puree will restore the cocktail’s pinkness.