There has been plenty written about the famously pink 1990s institution that is the Cosmopolitan. Unlike most cocktails, whose origins are cloudy at best, the creation of the Cosmo can be clearly traced to Toby Cecchini, who purportedly invented the drink in 1988 while working at The Odeon in New York City. And, of course, its popularity can be largely attributed to the drink’s presence on “Sex and the City”.
While the Cosmopolitan is a perfectly pleasing drink, it’s also very much an artifact of its time. During the 1980s and 1990s, vodka reigned supreme amongst spirits, even in cocktail bars. However, go back a few decades to the end of Prohibition and the second age of cocktail invention, and you’ll not see much in the way of vodka drinks (vodka would take off a few years later with the creation of the Moscow Mule in 1941). What was a popular spirit in the latter part of the 1930s was gin. From the Martini to the Martinez, this juniper-centric infused spirit was very much in vogue. So when Naren Young—founder of Bartender magazine and the creative director at New York City bar Dante when it won the top spot from the World’s 50 Best Bars—put his 1930s spin on the 1980s classic, he switched out the citrus vodka for gin. He specifically uses Nolet’s silver gin, a fruit and floral-forward Dutch gin rather than the more commonplace London Dry.
Cointreau sticks around in the drink, but lemon juice replaces the lime for a touch more sweetness. Most important, though, is the swapping of a homemade raspberry syrup for the cranberry juice that gives the drink its signature pink flush. Like changing vodka for gin, it encompasses the earlier era better, as cranberry juice in drinks wasn’t much of a trend until after the 1960s, when a collective of cranberry growers called Ocean Spray started publishing recipe booklets that included cranberry juice. The raspberry syrup gives the drink a gentle sweetness and fruitiness without overpowering it. It’s also useful for making the Clover Club, a close relative of the Cosmopolitan 1934.
- 1 1/2 ounces Nolet’s silver gin
- 1/2 ounce Cointreau
- 3/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/2 ounce raspberry syrup*
- Garnish: dehydrated orange wheel
- Garnish: flamed orange peel
Add the gin, Cointreau, lemon juice and raspberry syrup to a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Double-strain into a coupe glass.
Garnish with a flamed orange peel and a dehydrated orange wheel (a fresh orange wheel can be used instead).
*Raspberry syrup: Add 1 quart water, 1 quart granulated sugar and 1 cup raspberries to a saucepan and bring to a low boil. Simmer for five minutes. Allow to cool completely, and strain out the solids. The syrup will keep, refrigerated in an airtight container, for up to two weeks.