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Cosmopolitan Variations: Modern Twists on a Classic Cocktail

July 03, 2024 by

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Welcome to the delightful world of Cosmo variations! The Cosmopolitan, a beloved cocktail since the 1970s, became a cultural icon in the 1990s thanks to the TV show Sex and the City. This classic drink, with a base of vodka, orange liqueur, cranberry juice, and fresh lime juice, is a perfect combination of sweet and tart. Whether you’re a long-time fan or new to the scene, exploring different twists on this timeless cocktail is a must for any cocktail enthusiast. 

1. Blood Orange Cosmo

A close-up of a Blood Orange Cosmo served on a silver tray with halved blood oranges arranged around it

For Cosmo variations that are all about the zest, start with the Blood Orange Cosmo. Combine 1.5 oz citrus-flavored vodka, 0.5 oz orange liqueur, 0.25 oz lime juice, 0.25 oz blood orange juice, and a splash of cranberry juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, fine strain into a chilled coupe glass, and garnish with a blood orange slice. 

Make it with: Grand Marnier 

Also see: What to Mix with Vodka: 2-Ingredient Vodka Cocktails

2. Pomegranate Cosmo

Close-up of a vibrant Pomegranate Cosmo

Keen on Cosmopolitan variations that are somewhat less sweet? Try a Pomegranate Cosmo. Add 1 oz vodka, 1 oz Grand Marnier, 1 oz pomegranate juice, 0.5 oz lime juice, and 1 dash of orange bitters to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until frosty, fine strain into a chilled serving glass, and garnish with an orange twist.    

Make it with: SKYY Vodka 

Read next: 14 Cocktails with Orange Liqueur That Zest the Best

3. The White Cosmo

Close-up of two White Cosmos with orange twist garnish, served with a plate of pretzels

The White Cosmo is arguably one of the most popular Cosmo cocktail variations out there. It’s a classy clinker to the core. To make one, add 1 oz vodka, 1 oz Grand Marnier, 1.5 oz white cranberry juice, and 0.5 oz lime juice to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until frosty, and fine strain into a chilled serving glass.  

Learn more: What is ABV Anyway?

4. Cosmobellini

Close-up of two Cosmobellini cocktails in flute glasses

Want to serve a Cosmo variation at brunch? Then this cross between the Cosmo and the Bellini is a must-try. To make a Cosmobellini, combine 1 oz citrus-infused vodka, 0.5 oz orange liqueur, 0.5 oz lime juice, 0.5 oz peach purée, and a splash of cranberry juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until frosty, fine strain into a chilled serving glass, top off with 1-2 oz of Prosecco, and serve. 

5. French Cosmo

Two French Cosmos in a kitchen next to a bowl of fresh limes

Oui, oui, mon ami! To make a French Cosmopolitan, combine 1 oz citrus-flavored vodka, 0.5 oz Grand Marnier, 0.5 oz sour mix, 0.5 oz cranberry juice, and 0.25 oz lime juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Add a splash of grenadine to the bottom of a chilled serving glass. Fine-strain the mixture into the glass, give it a gentle swirl, and serve. 

Make it with: SKYY Infusions Citrus

Host like a pro: 12 Freezer Door Cocktails for Easy Hosting

6. Gimlet

Refreshing vodka Gimlet in a coupe glass on a silver tray

If you’re looking for a Cosmo variation with gin, it’s time to take a step back and indulge in an old-school classic. The Gimlet predates the Cosmo, but leans into the same zesty space, supported by a strong gin-based backbone. Those who appreciate a sophisticated drink stripped down to its essentials should definitely try the Gimlet.     

Make it with: Bulldog Gin 

Zesty besties: 15 Sublime Lime Cocktails You Gotta Try

7. Raspberry Cosmo

Three Raspberry Cosmos in a kitchen next to a bowl of fresh raspberries

We love a raspberry moment, and this Cosmo variation never disappoints. To make one, combine 1.5 oz vodka, 1.5 oz cranberry juice, 0.5 oz orange liqueur, 0.5 oz raspberry liqueur, 0.5 oz lime juice, and ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake until frosty, then fine-strain into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with a raspberry, and serve.  

8. Honey Cosmo

A close-up of a Honey Cosmo cocktail garnished with fresh rosemary

If you love a Bee’s Knees, you’ll adore a Honey Cosmo. To make one, add 1.5 oz citrus vodka, 1.5 oz cranberry juice, 0.5 oz pink grapefruit juice, 0.5 oz lime juice, 0.5 oz honey syrup, and a few drops of grapefruit bitters to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake to combine and fine strain into a chilled serving glass.  

Make it with: Home-made honey syrup

9. Violet Cosmo

Two Violet Cosmos on a kitchen table with colorful napkins and yellow flowers

The Violet Cosmo is a grand dame who comes to the party with a daring dash of crème de cassis. To make one, add 0.75 oz lime juice, 1 oz white cranberry juice, 0.25 oz crème de cassis, 0.25 oz crème de violette, 0.5 oz orange liqueur, and 1.5 oz citrus vodka. Add ice and shake.Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a floating violet flower on top of the drink.

Also see: Ultimate Guide to Edible Flowers for Cocktail Garnishes 

10. Strawberry Cosmo

Two Strawberry Cosmopolitans in coupe glasses

The Strawbery Cosmo is berry delicious. To make one, add 1.5 oz vodka, 0.75 oz strawberry liqueur, 1 oz cranberry juice, and 0.5 oz lime juice to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well combined, and fine strain into a chilled serving glass. 

Read next: How to Plan a 90s Theme Party That’s More Than Aiight! 

11. Jalapeño Grapefruit Cosmo

Top view of two Jalapeño Grapefruit Cosmos with jalapeño garnish

If you like things on the spicy side, you’ve got to try the Jalapeño Grapefruit Cosmo. To make one, add 1.5 oz vodka, 2 oz grapefruit juice, 0.5 oz lime juice, and 2-4 slices of jalapeño to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until frosty, fine strain into a chilled serving glass, float a slice of jalapeño on top of the drink, and serve. 

12. Lavender Cosmo

Close-up of two Lavender Cosmos with lavender garnish

Keen to go a little herbal with the classy Cosmo? To make a Lavender Cosmo, combine 1.5 oz vodka, 0.5 oz lime juice, 0.25 oz lavender simple syrup, 0.25 oz elderflower liqueur, and 0.25 oz cranberry juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Fine strain into a chilled coupe glass, garnish with a sprig of lavender and serve. 

Make it with: Home-made lavender simple syrup 

Also see: 13 Tasty Elderflower Cocktails You’ll Adore 

Three tips for making the perfect Cosmo

Top view of a hand straining a Cosmo into a coupe glass on a wooden surface with limes

1.  Ingredient selection

  • Vodka: For a smoother taste, choose a high-quality vodka. Top-shelf brands can make a noticeable difference. 
  • Orange liqueur: For a richer taste, opt for a premium triple sec or an orange liqueur like Grand Marnier.
  • Cranberry juice: For a more authentic taste, use 100% cranberry juice instead of the sweetened cocktail mix.
  • Lime juice: For the perfect tang, freshly squeezed lime juice is essential.
“A great Cosmo should be beautifully balanced with a very subtle pink hue. Adding a little splash of extra dry vermouth to this drink is one of my favorite things to do because it just adds an herbaceous note to the back of the cocktail. Tacos al pastor with a side of pineapple pairs beautifully with a Cosmopolitan—the spice and sweetness complements it well.” – Tris Fini (Campari Academy, UK) 

2. Flavor balance techniques

  • Measure accurately: Precision is key. Use a jigger to ensure the right proportions of ingredients instead of just eyeballing it.
  • Shake well: Fill your cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously for about 20 seconds. This chills the drink and slightly dilutes it, balancing the flavors. 
  • Strain properly: Use a fine-mesh strainer to pour the cocktail into a chilled Martini glass to ensure a smooth texture. 

3. Presentation and garnish ideas

  • Classic twist: Garnish with a twist of lime peel for a traditional look. 
  • Berry bliss: Add a few fresh cranberries for a pop of color and a hint of tartness. 
  • Floral touch: Float an edible flower, like a violet, on top for an elegant presentation. 
  • Citrus zest: Rim the glass with a bit of orange or lime zest for an extra burst of citrus aroma. 

Three food pairing suggestions
Two Cosmo cocktails served with a plate of tomato and basil bruschetta

1. Appetizers and light bites

  • Shrimp cocktail: The bright, zesty flavors of the Cosmopolitan complement the fresh, briny taste of shrimp. 
  • Bruschetta: Crisp baguette slices topped with fresh tomatoes, basil, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar pair beautifully with the cocktail’s tartness. 
  • Vegan spring rolls: Fresh vegetables wrapped in rice paper, served with a tangy dipping sauce, make a light and refreshing match. 
  • Stuffed mushrooms: Vegetarian-friendly and packed with savory goodness, these make a perfect bite alongside a Cosmo. 

2. Main courses

  • Grilled chicken skewers: Marinated in herbs and citrus, these skewers are a light and flavorful option that pairs well with the cocktail’s citrus notes. 
  • Salmon with dill sauce: The richness of salmon is balanced by a dill sauce, harmonizing nicely with the tartness of the Cosmopolitan. 
  • Vegan Pad Thai: A colorful and flavorful dish that complements the cocktail’s vibrant flavors with its mix of sweet, sour, and spicy elements. 
  • Stuffed bell peppers: Filled with quinoa, vegetables, and spices, these vegetarian delights offer a hearty yet healthy option. 

3. Desserts

  • Lemon tart: The tangy lemon filling echoes the citrus elements in the Cosmo, making for a refreshing end to the meal. 
  • Berry sorbet: Light and fruity, this vegan dessert pairs perfectly with the cocktail’s cranberry notes. 
  • Chocolate-dipped strawberries: The rich chocolate and fresh strawberries provide a delightful contrast to the cocktail’s tartness. 
  • Vegan chocolate mousse: A creamy and indulgent treat that balances the bright, zesty flavors of the Cosmopolitan. 

There you have it – 12 gorgeous Cosmo variations to try at home. Sign up for your newsletter to get more drinkspiration served up fresh from the presses and remember to tag us when you share your classy clinkers on Instagram!  

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

To put a unique twist on the classic Cosmopolitan, try a Blood Orange Cosmo with blood orange juice for a vibrant flavor. A Pomegranate Cosmopolitan adds a sweet-tart twist with pomegranate juice. The White Cosmo uses white cranberry juice for a lighter, elegant look. For a sparkling variation, the Cosmobellini combines the classic Cosmo with Prosecco. Enjoy experimenting with these creative variations and find more ideas on The Mixer.

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