Can We Finally Admit the Cosmo Is Good?

cosmopolitan cocktail trend sex and the city scene

You don’t need to be a Sex and the City mega fan or (even an occasional viewer) to know that the Cosmopolitan is basically its own character in the series. The cocktail is so inextricably associated with the show that some people think it was invented by Carrie Bradshaw herself. (Spoiler, it wasn’t, but Google searches for “Did SATC invent the Cosmopolitan” really do exist on the internet.) We loved the show enough to bring it back, so what about the Cosmo?

The show didn’t invent the cocktail, but its origins are murky. According to food reporter Priya Krishna’s definitive history, it might’ve been invented as early as the 1930s, some version of it was definitely popular in the gay bar scene of the 1980s and it’s widely credited as being modernized by New York City bartender Toby Cecchini in the ’90s, ten years prior to SATC

Like crop tops, brown lipstick and sun-dried tomatoes, the nature of trends is circular. There’s the underground-cool phase, the peak of mainstream popularity and the return to obscurity. By the time the show aired, the drink was already verging on overexposed. 

What’s most irksome though, is that here, it’s not just about overexposure. After all, the espresso martini—another trendy ’90s drink—has seen a recent resurgence. So why all the continued hate for the tart, pink drink?

My guess is that it’s at least partly because the Cosmo has been deemed extremely mainstream and girly. This opens the doors to a special kind of vitriol from “serious” imbibers. Maybe you’ve personally witnessed the prank of someone secretly ordering their pal a Cosmo while they’re in the bathroom, because how embarrassing to have to drink that?

Some of it leads back to the concept of basicness and cheugy, which…snooze. Are we still we not allowed to like something because it has mainstream appeal? Does being popular automatically negate all merit? What’s so awful about liking popular things? Admit it: Nothing! (I’m looking at all of you who declared Taylor Swift “bad music,” who are now listening to ‘All Too Well (10 Minute Version)’ on repeat.)

And to those who still scoff at the Cosmo, I have to ask: Have you had one recently? I don’t mean vodka with too much Ocean Spray—I mean a frothy, shaken Cosmo with Cointreau, freshly squeezed lime juice and just a splash of cranberry. When made properly, it’s undeniably good: Tart, refreshing and not unlike a well-made margarita. (The only real qualm I have is with the martini glass, which is sloshy, too hard to sip from without spilling and honestly a little cheesy. But I digress.)

Maybe the remedy for the Cosmopolitan, besides learning how to spot a good one from a bad one, is to stop worrying whether it’s cheugy or not. Think like the Crocs-clad Gen Z: Making choices based on someone else’s opinion on them is cheugy. Drinking Cosmos just because Carrie Bradshaw did is kinda lame, whether you like the show or not. Drinking Cosmos because they’re absolutely delicious and a perfect cocktail? Now we’re talking. 

Oh, and if you’re at all intrigued, here’s how to make a Cosmopolitan (you know, a good one).

2 ounces vodka (or lemon vodka)
1 ounce Cointreau
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
1 ounce cranberry juice cocktail
Lemon twist, to garnish (optional) 

To a cocktail shaker, add all ingredients, fill with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a coupe or cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist, if desired. Enjoy and tell the haters to stay back.

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Senior Food Editor

Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City...