National Cosmopolitan Day
annually on May 7th (since 2014)
Cosmopolitans—cosmos for short—are served and imbibed today, on National Cosmopolitan Day. They are made with vodka (usually vodka citron), triple sec (usually Cointreau), cranberry juice, and freshly squeezed lime juice. They usually are shaken, but can be stirred, and are served in martini glasses. A lemon or orange twist is sometimes used as a garnish.
It is not fully known who made the first cosmopolitan or when they made it, and there is a flurry of stories related to the drink's inception. A simple tracing of the cosmopolitan says they stemmed from vodka gimlets, which had Cointreau added to them to become kamikazes, which had cranberry juice added to them to become cosmopolitans. An early recipe that had "cosmopolitan" in its name was the cosmopolitan daisy, which appeared in Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars 1903-1933 in 1934. It called for gin, Cointreau, lemon juice, and homemade raspberry syrup.
According to one story, bartender Neal Murray created the cosmopolitan in 1975, at the Cork and Cleaver, a steakhouse outside of Minneapolis. He claims to have added cranberry juice to a kamikaze and the first patron to try it exclaimed "how cosmopolitan." Cranberries are a staple in the area around Provincetown, Massachusetts, and another account says the drink got its start in Provincetown's gay community.
Another story says that Cheryl Cook of the now-closed Strand Restaurant in South Beach, Florida, created the cosmopolitan in 1985 or 1986. She claims that many people ordered martinis just to hold a martini glass, so she decided to create a drink in the glass that would be palatable to a wider group of people. Her original recipe called for "Absolut Citron, a splash of Triple sec, a drop of Rose's lime and just enough cranberry to make it oh so pretty in pink." Absolut Citron didn't debut until 1988, but it was being test-marketed in Miami at the time.
John Caine gets credit for bringing the drink west and popularizing it in San Francisco after he moved to the city from Cleveland in 1987 and started serving it at Julie's Supper Club. The internationally recognized version, which is similar to Cheryl Cook's, is said to have been created at The Odeon restaurant in Manhattan by Toby Cecchini and Melissa Huffsmith-Roth in 1988 or 1989. Huffsmith-Roth is said to have shown a version of the drink to Cecchini that friends of hers had had in San Francisco. Cecchini reconstructed it, bringing in Cointreau and fresh lime juice, and used the newly-available Absolut Citron. Cecchini first started serving it to staff and then regulars started requesting it. From there the drink spread to the rest of lower Manhattan. There is another story that says bartender Dale DeGroff spruced up the San Francisco version in a similar manner.
Whether cosmopolitans got their start in Provincetown, New York, Miami, San Francisco, or somewhere else is unknown, but what is known is they rose in popularity in the 1990s. This was heightened later in the decade when they became the staple drink on Sex and the City, often being ordered by Carrie Bradshaw, the character played by Sarah Jessica Parker. Nowadays they are ubiquitous, being served in any type of bar imaginable, and we order them today on National Cosmopolitan Day!
How to Observe National Cosmopolitan Day
Celebrate the day by having a cosmopolitan! Make one at home or venture to one of the best cocktail bars in the United States or the world to have one. You could also have one at The Odeon, one of the places it is purported to have first been served at. If you don't drink alcohol, or if your children want to celebrate, you could make a virgin cosmopolitan by using orange juice and pink lemonade in place of vodka and Cointreau. Some other ideas are to read a more extensive history of the cosmopolitan in The Cocktail Companion or to watch some Sex and the City.