Cocktail Corner

By on September 18, 2016

Aargh, mateys, and welcome to another Cocktail Corner.  I want to say thank-you to everyone who complimented me on last month’s rum drinks. Apparently, they were a big hit, and it seems that they really brought out the swashbuckling pirate out in a lot of you.  And that’s a good thing, because we can all use a bit of sailing on the high seas every now and then – if you know what I mean.   Besides, what better liquor is there to drink when a buccaneer goes searching for booty – treasure or otherwise?  Anyway, it’s always good to hear how much everyone likes reading the stories, and enjoying the drinks I recommend every month – aye, ya’ll totally rock.

So last week, my buddy Clay, Brooke and me went to check out this speak-easy type of craft cocktail joint that makes really great drinks.  While we’re enjoying the libations we ordered, a couple of hotties sat down next to us at the bar and order drinks, with one of them ordering a Cosmo.  We were a little surprised, because there were way better cocktails to try on the menu, and Cosmos aren’t as popular as they used to be.  So next thing you know, the bartender and this babe are talking about the Cosmo, and he’s saying how it was invented sometime in the 90’s.  Suddenly, Brooke blurts out, “No it wasn’t – it was way before then – right?” looking at me with those beautiful brown eyes.  Gee, thanks, Brooke.  To make a long story short, after giving everyone a brief history on the Cosmopolitan, Brooke says that I should probably write about it, so everyone knows the real story, “Don’t you think?” she asks again with those eyes.  So this month I’m going to talk about the history of the Cosmopolitan – which goes back a lot farther then the 90’s.

Although it became famous because of the ‘Sex and the City’ HBO series, the Cosmopolitan actually has a history that dates back more than 80 years.  It first appeared in a 1934 cocktail recipe book called ‘Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars’ by Charles Mueller, except that the recipe was completely different; it used gin instead of vodka, Cointreau and lemon juice in place of triple sec and Rose’s Lime Juice, and raspberry syrup instead of cranberry juice.  As we know it, the initial Cosmopolitan of vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, and Rose’s Lime Juice surfaced sometime during the mid-1970’s, and it was the recipe that everyone followed for the next twenty years.

What’s really interesting is that a lot of experts guess that the Cosmo was inspired by a cocktail invented and promoted by the Ocean Spray Company called the Harpoon, which is made with all the same ingredients except for the triple sec.  Anyway, in 1985, the Cosmopolitan recipe of Absolut Citron, tripe sec, cranberry juice, and a dash of Rose’s Lime Juice was supposedly created by a bartender named Cheryl Cook, who worked at the Strand Bar in Miami’s South Beach.  But this is a claim that’s been hotly contested, because Absolut Citron wasn’t released on the market until 1988; on the other hand, Miami was actually one of the test markets for Absolut Citron, from 1985 until its release three years later.  Why most people dispute Cook’s claim isn’t really clear, because there’s very little information about it.

Nevertheless, the person who everyone acknowledges as having created the modern Cosmopolitan is Toby Cecchini – a bartender working at the famed Odeon restaurant in Manhattan in 1988.  Cecchini supposedly used the same recipe as Cheryl Cook, except he replaced the Rose’s Lime Juice with fresh-squeezed lime juice.  But as popular as the Cosmo may have been, it didn’t really become a fashionable cocktail until 1996, when it was made famous by a bartender named Dale DeGroff.  Working at the legendary Rainbow Room in Manhattan, DeGroff used the same recipe as Cecchini, except he replaced the triple sec with Cointreau, and garnished his Cosmopolitan with a flamed, orange zest – catching the attention of celebrity patrons like Madonna, who eagerly spread the word about this ‘new’ libation.  And the rest, as they say, is history.

So even though the Cosmopolitan is strongly associated with a once-popular HBO series, this is a cocktail with a very long history.  And even though it started out as a gin drink, it kept the same formula when it converted to a vodka drink – spirit, liqueur, fruit juice and a fruit garnish – which kind of makes it a modern classic.  It’s been around for a long time, and has probably gone through more changes, and is made in more variations than a lot of other cocktails.  But I believe that any cocktail that’s made well is a good cocktail, and this is true for the Cosmo as well; when it’s made well, it’s an excellent libation.

Okay – that was a refreshing history lesson.  It’s always interesting to look into the background of cocktails, because there are always so many interesting facts.  I mean, who ever thought that the Cosmo was such an old drink, and was made so differently than the one we all know?  That’s why I love the world of cocktails, because there are so many stories that really add to the allure of so many libations.  Anyway, all this scratching is making me itch – which means that I’ve got a thirst for a tasty libation.  And the fact that Brooke just came over in the shortest skirt and the highest heels, asking where we’re going for a cocktail, really adds to my thirst – if you catch my drift.  So drink well, be safe, and until next month … CHEERS!


By: Lucky G.

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