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Food & Drink | The Cosmopolitan - Cocktail Hour - Apéritif Time

Food & Drink | The Cosmopolitan - Cocktail Hour - Apéritif Time

And where to get one in Nice:   TriBeCa Wine Bar

          1 bis Rue Dalpozzo, 06000 Nice

After you’ve taken a few sips of a proper Martini have you ever found yourself thinking “That's a good drink, but it's a mighty strong drink. If I nail a few of these I'll be doing the Glasgow Sidestep before you can say Stolichnaya ...but I do love holding a Martini glass.”? If so, the Cosmopolitan was invented for you: its fruity, its citrussy, its sophisticated, its pretty pink, its got an alcoholic punch that satisfies but doesn’t hit you like The Flying Scotsman - and its served in a Martini glass. 

Ingredients & method   

(“pt” = part, not pint!)

1½ pts  Vodka

½ pt  Triple Sec or Cointreau, which provides a liquorous orange flavour.

½ pt  Lime juice

¾ pt  Cranberry juice. A small splash that brings the commercial advantage of making the drink pink and recognisable; it should not be so strong as to make the drink taste of cranberry.

  • Pour all the ingredients into a shaker tin, add ice and shake.

  • Strain into a chilled martini glass, and serve garnished with a piece of lime peel.

The Cosmopolitan is said to have been invented in the 1980s and, while there is a clutch of bartenders all across the US who had a hand in the development of the Cosmo over this decade, it is widely agreed to have been Cheryl Cook at the Strand Restaurant in South Beach, Florida, and then Toby Cecchini at The Odeon restaurant in New York who, in 1985-87, formulated the cocktail we know today. It was Cheryl Cook who initially spotted the gap in the cocktail menu:

What struck me was the number of people who ordered Martinis just to be seen with a Martini glass in their hand. It was this realization that gave me the idea to create a drink that everyone could palate and was visually stunning in that classic glass.
— Cheryl Cook

Its possible that Cheryl and Toby looked for inspiration among lesser known cocktails of the middle of the 20th century… and there is a strikingly similar recipe for a cocktail also called a Cosmopolitan in a book called Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars 1903-1933 published in 1934. It calls for:

A jigger of Gordon’s Gin, 2 dashes of Cointreau, juice of 1 lemon, and 1 teaspoonful of raspberry syrup
— Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars

And then there’s the Cape Codder made with vodka and cranberry juice, and garnished with a lime wedge… conceived in 1945 by the Ocean Spray cranberry growers’ cooperative in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

And the Kamikaze which appeared in 1976 made from equal parts of vodka, triple sec and lime juice, garnished with a wedge or a twist of lime.

Be that as it may, in 1987 Toby Cecchini was in his first year of bartending at the downtown New York hotspot called The Odeon in Tribeca... 

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He was always experimenting with new drinks to try on the waitresses and other staff. One day he presented them with a mix of fresh lime juice, Cointreau, Absolut Citron (vodka) – which had only just been launched – and cranberry juice. Some say he was tweaking a rudimentary recipe from Cheryl Cook down in Florida: for instance he replaced her Rose’s lime cordial with the fresh lime juice, upped the Triple Sec and reduced the cranberry. It got the thumbs-up from the staff. They started introducing it to the regulars, but their regulars were people like Madonna, Sandra Bernhard, Sam Shepard, Lou Reed and Andy Warhol. These opinion-formers rapidly spread the word far and wide. Within months, Cecchini began seeing the drink at other downtown bars and restaurants. Within a year or two he was seeing it on billboards advertised with Grand Marnier! Friends advised him to sue somebody, but it turns out you can’t really patent a drink. 

Then ten years later, in the late 1990s, it went stellar when it got the gig of being the official tipple of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda in the hugely successful HBO rom-com series SEX AND THE CITY. The show is 21 years old this summer and we all know what she’d be drinking on her birthday, too. Because more than any of the things that became iconic by association during the series’ heyday – more than Manolos, more than Magnolia Bakery cupcakes – the Cosmopolitan became an icon of the show.

A clutch of Cosmos appearing in SEX AND THE CITY

A clutch of Cosmos appearing in SEX AND THE CITY

Fueled by the success of SEX AND THE CITY during the late 1990s and early 2000s - especially among young women and gay communities who were among the first adopters of the cocktail - and also sharing it's name with the popular fashion magazine, it soon joined the massed ranks of the Margaritas and the Mojitos as a classic girls’ night out session tipple and, as a result, helped generate new interest in cocktails. But despite this sudden international popularity after a few years it became a victim of its own success: as the Cosmopolitan became a cult favourite, the mass Marketing men moved in and the drink was all too often cheapened, sweetened and made neon pink. People even started making it with a shop-bought mix, for goodness sake! Its image was tarnished. But if you make it the right way, with fresh citrus and tart cranberry juice, you’ll understand why the Cosmopolitan was so popular in the first place.

Probably one of the greatest cocktail hits of our lifetime, the Cosmo is an example of how fickle our drinks culture can be: a drink that is for a brief period all the rage, and then just as quickly as it came, becomes a sneered-at cliché that most people wouldn’t dare order. Like Beaujolais Nouveau. Nowadays when you roll up to a bar and ask for a Cosmo, you’re telling the world that you’re well aware it’s a girlie pink cocktail, you’re well aware of the glitzy now-dated stereotypes associated with it - and you simply don’t care because it is delicious.

Importantly, the Cosmo had a significant impact on how we approach drinking and cocktails in general. Much of the high-end cocktail culture that we enjoy today - the ever expanding range of specialised ingredients, the speak-easies, and some drinks so complex only an expert chemist in a Haz-Chem suit can mix them - may be seen as a direct evolution from the simpler era of the Cosmo. We are probably in one of the richest and most vibrant times to be a cocktail drinker, but if it hadn't been for the Cosmo we might never have arrived here.

The Cosmo may never again be as zeitgeisty as it was in the late ‘80s, or as popular as it was in the early 2000s, but in that reverse hipstery way the Cosmo may actually be one of the cooler things a person can order from the bar. 

Where to get a good Cosmopolitan in Nice: The TriBeCa Wine Bar

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Address: 1 bis Rue Dalpozzo, 06000 Nice

Tel.          0625864026

Email:    tribecawinebar.nice@gmail.com

Web:       tribecawinebarkitchen.eatbu.com

Next time : Back to New Orleans for a look at the venerable old Sazerac. Join us for another drink.

Chin chin!

The Sazerac

Next Week on Chrystal.eu

Read more by David Prince:

Please drink responsibly. Consommez avec modération.

Disclaimer: This article is not for commercial ends and no gratuities were asked for or received from any products or companies mentioned herein. Chrystal 2019 

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