In 2021, the Cosmopolitan makes an unexpected comeback


There came a time during a February 2020 pub crawl that a few colleagues and I gave up the task at hand – tasting and categorizing cosmopolitans at celebratory New York establishments – to think about a few pertinent questions: whether “Sex and the City ”(SATC) debuted in 2020 rather than the late ’90s, would Carrie Bradshaw smoke a Juul pen instead of her beloved Marlboro Lights? And could the show’s 30-something protagonist now trade the Upper East Side for the East Village, or maybe (gasp!) Somewhere in Brooklyn? Most urgent of all: would she even drink Cosmos?

Back then, the answer to the last question was an almost certain ‘no’ – 2020 Carrie Bradshaw would surely drink rosé, Aperol Spritzes, and maybe even White Claw at times, we thought. But 15 months later, in which a dozen lives have passed, things look decidedly different.

Where it was then intentionally ironic to dive into New York by ordering Cosmopolitans (all in the name of journalism), today that same cocktail is fashionable. Arriving nicely in pink and carrying the iconic V-shaped Martini Glass, the Cosmopolitan fulfills the same longing for nostalgia that fueled what we ate and drank during the pandemic. While this isn’t a “trend” that factor doesn’t create, one of New York’s hottest bars has also just launched a full menu paying homage to Cosmo and his various riffs. . And did you hear? “Sex and the City” is about to return.

Who am I kidding? Of course you heard.

Life before Carrie & Co.

At the risk of sounding like an immediate hypocrite, I would say that too much attention is paid to “Sex and the City” when exploring the history of Cosmopolitan. Beyond the fact that the drink doesn’t feature more prominently in the series than Vodka Martinis topped with juicy green olives, the Cosmo has also had a distinct, particularly profound impact on cocktail culture that is worth considering. .

It is no exaggeration to assert that since its premiere in the 1980s – which predated the series by at least a decade – no other “modern classic” has cemented itself in the mainstream as the Cosmopolitan did it. For that, I like to use the very unscientific “has my mother heard of it?” »Test. While she had a soft spot for the weird pornstar Martini, my mom certainly couldn’t tell a penicillin from a paper plane – but she could absolutely choose a cosmopolitan from a range of cocktails.

Again, “Sex and the City” certainly played a part in this, but the cocktail had a good 10-year run before hitting the small screen. Cosmo drinkers have to thank Toby Cecchini, co-owner of Long Island Bar and Rockwell Place in New York City, for his birth, though others have tried to claim a claim along the way.

Cecchini designed the Cosmo while taking care of the bar at the Tribeca l’Odéon brasserie. It was inspired by another cocktail called the Cosmopolitan, which was then popular in gay bars in San Francisco and introduced to Cecchini via a colleague, who in turn learned about it from friends on the West Coast. Cecchini replaced the original’s rail vodka with the newly introduced Absolut Citron, and swapped its Lime and Grenadine Rose juice for fresh citrus and cranberry juice. The final inclusion of Cointreau brought a subtle, round sweetness. In the end, the two drinks remained the same in name and color only.

“It would have otherwise died the natural death that all those crappy drinks do,” Cecchini says. “Someone gave him a name in advance. I gave it a life.

Like the Cosmo, “Sex and the City” is about to return

“Frickin ‘Losy” or cocktail influencer?

The details of Cosmopolitan’s beginnings are quite insignificant in its subsequent rise, especially internationally. But it seems important to mention them because no other individual has had to answer more for the life that the Cosmos has taken than its creator.

As the Cosmopolitan shifted from basic status to staff at the Odeon to blazing fire across Manhattan, Cecchini quickly felt the wrath of the city’s bartenders. “Oh, you the asshole who made this drink,” they would tell him, now responsible for shaking hundreds of people every night. “This is the thing that I had to go through for 20 years,” recalls Cecchini.

Fatigue, disdain or quite simply a symbol of the general quality of the mixology of the time, the omnipresence of Cosmo only tarnished its reputation. This is mainly because most bartenders focus on aesthetics rather than balance or using the right ingredients.

“When I arrived in New York City in the mid-’90s, it was an absolute celebration of Cosmo,” says Birch Shambaugh, a former bartender and tech industry veteran who is now co-owner of Woodford Food & Beverage in Portland, in Maine. “Everyone was doing Cosmos. Most of them were really bad.

While it’s hard to prove it definitively, there is a logical school of thought that says the Cosmo played an important and unlikely role in the great cocktail renaissance. Although designed to use thoughtful ingredients in balanced proportions, Cosmos of this era are known to be harsh on the eyes and even more offensive to the palate – two sides of the mixology that bartenders like Dale DeGroff, Julie Reiner and Sasha Petraske aimed to ban.

(As Carrie Bradshaw sat in front of a first MacBook, I wonder: is it more than just a coincidence that Petraske’s own Milk & Honey – one of the most influential bars in the history of the movement – has opened? its doors just two years after “Sex and the City” debuted in 1998?)

This is all a roundabout way of saying that the Cosmopolitan has long earned more credit than most bartenders and enthusiasts tend to give it. But this recognition only leads to After pressing questions, namely: Why is 2021 more ripe for a Cosmo return than any year since its heyday in the ’90s?

The Cosmo is ready for a comeback this summer
Credit: Dante / Giada Paoloni

The cosmos Second Third coming

While I hasten to lead with this, there is the SATC factor to consider.

“I think the show’s resurgence is on everyone’s mind,” says Melissa Stokoski, a New York-based actress, comedian and podcast host who also runs private “Sex and the City” tours and has joined us. for the February 2020 Cosmo crawl. “We’re getting photos on Instagram of the girls about to start filming this show, and everyone is on the edge of their seats to see how disastrous or awesome it can be.”

Beyond that, however, Stokoski says the Cosmo “matches the vibe” of life right now – the fervor of letting our hair down after a year like no other. “We have been released from this yearlong prison with no nightlife – nothing at all – so I think everyone feels ready to let go,” she said. “Drinking Cosmos is a bit cheesy, but nobody cares. It shows you’re ready to have a good time.

It probably doesn’t even matter that most of those now running in “good vibes only” T-shirts, living their best lives and ordering Cosmos, weren’t there for the first round of the race. drink. Things that were once old have a habit of becoming new again. This very principle is the basis of cocktail culture, as well as fashion in general. That’s why you can currently buy a revamped “smart” Motorola Razr for $ 1,200.

When Shambaugh upped the sticks of New York in 2009, then opened Woodford in Portland in 2016, nostalgia drove the creation of the venue’s menu. Together with their wife and business partner Fayth Preyer, the couple opened a bar and restaurant that distilled their favorite experiences from their stay in New York. Preyer having worked as a manager at the Odeon, the Cosmo naturally made its way into the classics section of their cocktail menu, where it has remained ever since.

The contrasting reactions of the local bartenders and the reception of the drink by the diners – in my opinion – captures the essence of the Cosmopolitan’s plight. “When we walked through it, there were arched eyebrows in the bar community. People were like, ‘You’re going to put a Cosmos On the menu ?!’ He said. “But it’s, without a doubt, one of our most popular cocktails – people come back time and time again to have it.”

London Registry Chris Moore also delves into the notion of nostalgia when he describes the motivation for designing a cosmopolitan tribute menu at New York’s Dante West Village (DWV), where he works as a bar manager. “It’s emblematic of cocktail culture in New York City, so we wanted to bring it back,” he says.

Having only moved to New York City last September, Moore’s take on the Cosmo differs slightly from others. In London, it never achieved the status of a drink that bartenders didn’t want to or like, he says. “It had its moments and then slowly faded over time.” Yet he also remembers, with somewhat mixed emotions, how in his prime his fingers were blackened at the end of each shift by garnishing dozens of Cosmos with flamed orange peels.

In terms of catching the vibe of cocktail days, Dante’s bar team had previously brought New York drinkers dedicated Negroni and Martini menus, as well as a long-standing spritz list. Whether this new menu is a sign of an established trend or a case of preemption could be debated, although it should be noted that DWV does not currently list a genuine version of the Cosmo on its menu. “[We didn’t include] a Cosmopolitan because I felt like the pioneers in New York are still here – they’re still part of the industry, ”says Moore (although customers can still order a classic off the menu if they’re interested) .

Of course, when we discuss “trends” we also need to briefly recognize that most alcohol use in 2020 did not take place in bars. But this is an arena in which the Cosmo shines a fabulous pink again.

While bars and restaurants were previously incubators for food and drink fad, social media proved to be that catalyst last year. And on TikTok, the world’s fastest growing social media network, there was only one winner when it came to cocktails last year: Bright and Glowing Creations. Let’s also not forget the undisputed MVP of pandemic alcohol consumption videos: Ina Garten and her fabulous quarantine Cosmo the size of an aquarium.

So if 2021 is to be the year of the Cosmo’s comeback, I wondered what the drink’s creator thought of that prospect. Considering all the derision he’s received over the years, surely it’s no fun to learn that the Cosmopolitan is “cool” again?

“People are always very tenuous when they ask me if I would make a Cosmo out of them, but I made my peace a long time ago,” Cecchini says. “Thirty years apart, I am charmed. “

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