A Spicy Perspective

Perfect Cosmopolitan Cocktail

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How to Make a Cosmopolitan – These fresh and fruity vodka cranberry cocktails are always a hit! Here we share the best recipe with easy steps to make a cheers-worthy cosmo at home.

Closer view of a cosmopolitan cocktail in a cocktail glass with twist of lemon.

Why We Love This Easy Recipe

This traditional American cocktail has had a glamorous history, especially as the featured beverage of choice on many movies and TV shows throughout the 1990s and early 2000s.

The Cosmopolitan Cocktail is a simple beverage made of good quality vodka, orange liqueur, fresh lime juice, and cranberry juice. If the ingredients are well selected and added in just the right proportions, no additional sugar is needed. However, popularized versions of this recipe do sometimes add simple syrup for an extra touch of sweetness.

Note that the cocktail has fresh lime juice in it, however, the garnish is a lemon twist. This lemon-lime combination is a nod to its origins in South Beach Florida… One of the many reasons it’s a fun drink for summer beach parties or poolside lounging!

But that’s not all. This versatile crowd-pleaser is appropriate for holiday celebrations, cocktail parties, casual get-togethers, or any time that calls for a deliciously fabulous adult drink!

Top down view of two cosmopolitan cocktails in a cocktail glass with twist of lemon.

Ingredients You Need

Our master mixologist has developed the perfect proportions of each ingredient to make this the most refreshing cosmopolitan cocktail recipe around. Here is what you will need:

  • Vodka – the flavor will really come through, so be sure to choose a quality top-shelf vodka
  • Cointreau – a classic brand of orange-flavored triple-sec liqueur
  • Lime juice – freshly squeezed
  • Cranberry juice – choose a juice with sugar (or your preferred sugar alternative)
  • Lemon twist – see our tips below
  • Simple syrup – optional
Bottle of vodka and bottle of orange liquore.

How to Make a Lemon Twist

The easiest way to make a lemon twist is by using a channeling knife, which is a bar tool specifically for this task. Start at the top of the lemon and puncture the skin with the sharp V blade. Slowly peel down as you turn the fruit, so you are winding the channeling knife down and around. Cut as close to the zest as you can, trying to avoid the white pith that’s between the skin and flesh. This will create a thick, bouncy ribbon of lemon.

No channeling knife? No problem! You can carefully recreate the steps with a sharp pairing knife, or even a vegetable peeler (but you’ll need to puncture the lemon with a knife to get started).

This easy method always works to make a lime twist!

Lemon peels on a cutting board.

How to Make a Cosmopolitan Cocktail

Fill a cocktail shaker half full with ice. 

Measure and pour the vodka, Cointreau, lime juice, and cranberry juice into the shaker.

Hand pouring alcohol from metal jig into metal martini shaker.

Cover and shake vigorously for 15 to 20 seconds.

Get the Complete (Printable) Perfect Cosmo Cocktail Recipe + VIDEO Below. Enjoy!

Metal cocktail shaker.

Then strain the beverage into a martini glass or chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Top down view of two cosmopolitan cocktails in a cocktail glass with twist of lemon.

Recipe Variations

  • Can’t get enough lemon or lime flavor? Use your favorite citrus vodka.
  • Use black currant vodka to change this cosmo cocktail recipe into a Metropolitan cocktail.
  • While Cointreau is the most popular brand, feel free to use any triple sec you like.
  • For an extra sweet taste to balance out the alcohol, add simple syrup to the mix before shaking. Try our easy Homemade Simple Syrup recipe – including a variation to make lemon simple syrup!
  • This drink traditionally includes lime juice with a lemon twist. However, you can mix things up with a lime twist or an orange twist instead.
  • This recipe is for one beverage. Increase the Cosmopolitan cocktail ingredients as needed to make additional servings.
Closer view of a cosmopolitan cocktail in a cocktail glass with twist of lemon.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a Cosmopolitan and a Martini?

Martinis are a simple blend of vodka (or gin) and vermouth. You can make a variety of different types, like apple or espresso or Peppermint martinis. A classic Cosmopolitan cocktail recipe, on the other hand, is a vodka drink that includes a set list of specific ingredients.

Is a cosmo cocktail strong?

Yes, most do consider this a fairly stout drink. Each serving includes 2 ounces of vodka plus 3/4 ounce of triple sec, so it does wind up quite strong. The cranberry and lime juice cut the sharp taste of the alcohol.

Can you make a non-alcoholic cosmo?

You can absolutely make this Cosmo cocktail recipe without alcohol! For a Cosmopolitan Mocktail simply swap vodka and triple sec with your choice of non-alcoholic spirits substitutes. There are now so many great options available!

Hand grabbing a cocktail.

Looking for More Classic Cocktail Recipes? Be Sure to Also Try:

Check the recipe below for calories and nutrition information.

Top down view of two cosmopolitan cocktails in a cocktail glass with twist of lemon.
Print Recipe
5 from 6 votes
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Perfect Cosmopolitan Cocktail Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Fresh and fruity vodka cranberry Cosmopolitan cocktails are always a hit! Here we share the best recipe with easy steps to make a cheers-worthy cosmo at home.
Servings: 1 drink

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces premium vodka
  • ¾ ounce Cointreau or triple sec
  • ¾ ounce fresh lime juice
  • ½ ounce cranberry juice
  • Twist of lemon
  • Optional: ½ ounce simple syrup

Instructions

  • Fill a cocktail shaker half full with ice.
  • Measure and pour the vodka, Cointreau, lime juice, and cranberry juice into the shaker.
  • Cover and shake vigorously for 15 to 20 seconds. Then strain the beverage into a martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Video

Notes

As-is this recipe is for 1 drink. Use the servings slider above to multiply the amount of cocktails made.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g, Calories: 77kcal, Carbohydrates: 10g, Protein: 0.2g, Fat: 0.1g, Saturated Fat: 0.02g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.03g, Sodium: 2mg, Potassium: 42mg, Fiber: 0.1g, Sugar: 9g, Vitamin A: 17IU, Vitamin C: 8mg, Calcium: 4mg, Iron: 0.1mg
Course: Beverage, cocktail, Drinks
Cuisine: American
Author: Sommer Collier

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6 comments on “Perfect Cosmopolitan Cocktail”

  1. My husband’s favorite Cosmo. He usually just tolerates them. We both really enjoyed the balanced, bright flavors. Perhaps it is the Cointreau, perhaps it is the ingredient ratios. In any case we agree this is the best we’ve had!

  2. lovely, and if it wasn’t Tuesday..well maybe in spite of it, either way I’ll be tasting it very soon, I haven’t had a Cosmopolitan in a long time, thank you!

  3. i’ve always wanted to be the kind of person who makes these kinds of drinks for my guests, but now that I found a fun rolling bar cart, this is going to be one of my go to recipes. 

  4. Oh my goodness, this is my new favorite cocktail! I had had it before but never made it, and it was delicious!

  5. Love this! I always feel like such an elegant woman from the city when I sip on one.

  6. Perfect drink for any party!! The cranberry juice flavor was perfect!