How To Make The Quintessential Cosmopolitan Cocktail

Recently, I received an invite to a ‘Cosmopolitan’ party. I was a bit confused as to whether the theme was inspired by the ‘Cosmo’ cocktail or if it had more to do with the outlandish lifestyles portrayed by cover girls flaunting their all-year-round-summer-bodies in designer bikini pieces?

Regardless, I showed up late due to work commitments and by the time I graced the party with my ever so fashionably-late-savoir, there was nothing resembling neither a cover girl nor a post-modernized pink drink.

As a result, I had to settle with a dark rum and cranberry juice, concocted from the remains in the liquor cabinet. I frantically re-screened the refrigerator’s content shelf-by-shelf for anything to lend some additional citrus to balance out the sweetness in my glass.

The evening drew to an end in the early hours of the morning with one of the soiree’s remaining attendees serenading the rest with his live rendition of Piano Man – very Cosmopolitan, as those gorgeous ladies from Sex in the City often descriptively label moments of sheer lush, including those times, spent sipping on a Cosmo.

The entire endeavour left me lying awake at night, fantasizing over this cocktail that never had the pleasure of gracing my lips. What exactly is the origin of the Cosmopolitan and what does it take to create the perfect pour?

I caught up with Cassandra Eichhoff, formally known as one of the ‘Liquor Ladies’ of South Africa and currently the Director & Head Instructor of European Bartender School – Cape Town (EBS).

The Cosmopolitan was a big deal during the Sex in the City times and made a huge impact on the way woman drink cocktails. It’s easily recognisable when you see it wondering to a table on a waiter’s tray and even easier to recreate.

Not exactly a classic as such, as this sharp yet easy drinking elixir is classified by the International Bar Association (IBA) as a ‘Contemporary Classic’, among the likes of The Long Iceland Ice-Tea and the Mai-Tai.

The history around the coming-of-age of the Cosmopolitan has been told in various versions by the different ‘creators’ of the drink. The Cosmo is said to be loosely derived from either the Kamikaze (Equal parts Vodka, Triple Sec and Lime Juice – served straight up in a cocktail glass) or the Daisy Cocktail (Yellow Chartreuse, Brandy or Cognac and Lemon Juice – stirred until chilled, served in a Collins glass and charged with Soda).

For the sake of convenience, I will adopt the version whereby Toby Cecchini tells a tale of how he himself mastered together the pinkish-hue cranberry, orange and lemon zest refresher. Said to have been concocted to please the palate of the post socialist desperate house wife, who so loved to drink from a Martini Glass, but could barely stand the taste of a Martini; be it shaken or stirred.

Toby Cecchini – bar owner and author of Cosmopolitan: A Bartender’s Life

The components are easy to remember, and the difference between an average Cosmopolitan and an outstanding version thereof is determined by the ingredients.

The Spirit always wants to be the star of the show, use a decent base vodka if you are making your own infusion and use Cointreau to add to the citrus-esque palate instead of overly sweet Triple Sec.” – Cass advises for shaking up the perfect Cosmo.

As with any cocktail, your best bet for success would be to ensure that your fresh produce is as fresh as possible, and secondly to taste your produce before assembling your drinks. Not all limes are as tart or as sweet as the squeezed-dry husks which came before them. Nor will two brands of cranberry juice taste the same nor give the same pinkish-hue desired for the perfect Cosmopolitan, Former Liquor Lady advises to steer clear from the “Over preserved box brands” all together.

The IBA has set the following guidelines for this classic;

  • 40ml Citron Vodka
  • 15ml Cointreau TM
  • 30ml Cranberry Juice
  • 15ml Fresh Lime Juice

Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into a large cocktail glass. Garnish with lime slice.

Loosely, most dictionaries define the word ‘Cosmopolitan’ as being familiar with and at ease in many different countries and cultures. Much so the cocktail; easily created, consumed and enjoyed around the globe by the ‘Desperate’ version of the housewife-of-the-time, gladly sipping away at the pastel-coloured liquid in his or her crystal cut glass.

Cassandra’s passions lie in teaching curious bartenders the art of mixing drinks, creating personal flair behind the bar and mentoring them to thrive at more than just bartending. This personal flair includes developing not just drinks, but recipes for syrups, shrubs, cordials and so on and so forth. Cass was kind enough to share a recipe with me, which she created for Thirst Bar Services.


  • Rose-Petal Cosmo
  • 35ml Absolut Citron
  • 15ml Cointreau
  • 10ml Rose Syrup
  • 20ml Fresh Lime Juice
  • 25ml Cranberry Juice


Shake and fine strain all of the ingredients into a chilled coupe glass, express the oil from an orange rind and garnish with a floating rose petal.

Let me assure you; there is nothing wrong with sipping on a pink drink served in a fine-crystal Martini glass. But if you are, for whatever reason, not sold on the idea, order a Cosmo on the rocks and enjoy your time in the Insta-fied filter of life; or make one at home. Either way, this is an easy-drinking cocktail which will quench your thirst and have you addressing people as “Darling” very soon!

Check out Cassandra Eichoff’s social media platforms, including EBS Cape Town

Facebook: @Cassandra.eichhoff

Instagram: @mynameis_cass and @ebs_Capetown