Remember when Sex and the City was on TV? (In fact: remember TV?) While we were doing homework, or pretending to, the show’s leading characters were flitting about Manhattan high-society clutching one cocktail, and one cocktail only: the Cosmopolitan. For a while, they were everywhere.
Eau de Vie bartender Tom Egerton says the drink’s initial popularity began during the excess of the 1980s, but only went truly global thanks to Carrie and friends. “Just like how every Martini drinker, at some point in their lives, has thought themselves a shade of Bond when ordering the cocktail,” says Egerton, “the glamour and glitz of New York was an image drinkers wanted for themselves.”
These days Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda aren’t much remembered, and neither is the Cosmo. “The drink fell from popularity when the focus started to shift to the smaller cocktail bar movement,” says Egerton.
He tells the story of famous London bar, Milk and Honey, which refused to make the drink: not because it was uncool, but because making fresh cranberry juice (what they felt was a crucial ingredient to a good Cosmo) simply wasn’t feasible.
“Moving away from overly sweet jugs of cocktails and reconstituted juices was the best thing the bar industry could do for itself,” says Egerton. “As time went on, tastes changed on both sides of the bar and the image of the large, sugary pink cocktail of the past seemed juvenile. It was a vaguely embarrassing memory of a previous decade, cast in with the same lot as leg warmers and pagers.”
Egerton says the drink’s decline was due to fashion rather than taste. “Made well, the Cosmopolitan is a delightful drink,” he says. For a long time, Eau de Vie was making its own in a vintage 1930s cocktail shaker designed to look like a lady’s leg, using cranberry sorbet from Messina, Ketel One Citroen Vodka, fresh lime, Curacao, hibiscus syrup and a final splash of sparkling wine.
They no longer serve that particular iteration but again, not because it was uncool. “The [leg-shaped cocktail shakers] were rare vintage pieces,” says Egerton. “But we ended up breaking the fragile shakers in both Sydney and Melbourne, which was a sure-fire way to get a bollocking from the boss.”
Here’s Egerton’s recipe for a classic – and good – Cosmopolitan
Eau de Vie’s Classic Cosmopolitan
Serves one. Approx. 1.8 standard drinks
45ml Ketel One Citroen vodka
20ml lime juice
20ml orange liqueur
20ml cranberry juice
Torch or lightly roast the orange zest until fragrant. Shake all other ingredients in a cocktail shaker and finely strain into a martini glass. Add the aromatic orange zest over the top.
This article is presented in partnership with World Class.