Thanks to its iconic connection with Sex And the City, the Cosmopolitan became the drink of choice for many people in the late '90s and early 2000s. The pink, tart cocktail served in a martini glass peaked in popularity before the craft cocktail movement came into full swing, but its history goes back much further. It’s likely the Cosmo evolved from a much older drink template: the Sour. Sours (like the classic Whiskey Sour) were once barroom staples—simple drinks that called for citrus, sugar, and booze.

This template has been popular for more than a century and a half. It was first recorded in the 1862 edition of Jerry Thomas’s Bartender’s Guide. At that time, and for more than 50 years after, neither cranberry juice nor vodka enjoyed any sort of popularity, so the Cosmopolitan was still a far way off.

In 1934, the first recipe for a cocktail named "the Cosmopolitan" was printed in Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars. Though its ingredients are similar to the modern Cosmo, it was made with lemon juice, triple sec, raspberry syrup, and gin. It’s close in color to its modern counterpart, but was several substitutions away from becoming the iconic drink.

The modern Cosmopolitan is a product of the 1980s. Three bartenders claim to have molded its evolution and sparked its popularity: Cheryl Cook, Toby Cecchini, and Dale DeGroff. As Cook told Gary Regan in a 2006 e-newsletter, she formulated the drink in 1985 as “a Kamikaze with Absolut Citron and a splash of cranberry juice" when she was working at The Strand in Miami. (Though, as Difford's Guide points out, and as Absolut's website confirms, Absolut Citron didn't debut until 1988.)

Another story is that when a vodka cocktail made with Rose’s grenadine and Rose’s lime juice made its way to New York City in the late 1980s, Toby Cecchini, a bartender at The Odeon, reformulated it in 1988 to include Absolut Citron. Cecchini recently told Difford's Guide, "I invented the Cosmopolitan as it's known."

Though Dale DeGroff doesn’t claim to have invented the Cosmo, he was instrumental in popularizing it in the '90s. He worked at the Rainbow Room, where he encountered the Cosmopolitan in 1996 and reworked the recipe to add a flashy garnish—a flamed orange peel. Celebrities like Madonna frequented his bar and helped boost the Cosmo's profile. A star was born.

HIT THE LAB

Cosmopolitan
Adapted from 'Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars.'

1/4 ounce raspberry syrup
1/2 ounce triple sec
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
2 ounces London Dry gin

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, and shake vigorously until chilled. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an orange peel.

Cosmopolitan
As adapted from Toby Cecchini’s Recipe.

1 ounce cranberry juice
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce triple sec
2 ounces Absolut citron

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, and shake vigorously until chilled. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an orange peel.