A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from January 10, 2005
Cosmopolitan (cocktail)
The "Cosmopolitan" cocktail (also called "Cosmo") was probably invented in San Francisco. It was popularized by Odeon bartender Toby Cecchini in the late 1980s. He recently published a book titled Cosmopolitan: A Bartender's Life.

The television show Sex and the City helped to popularize the "Cosmo" cocktail in the late 1990s.


The Complete Book of Mixed Drinks
by Anthony Dias Blue
New York, NY: Harper Perennial
1993
Pg. 36:
Cosmopolitan
JULIE'S SUPPER CLUB, SAN FRANCISCO
1 1/4 ounces vodka
1/4 ounce Triple Sec
1/4 ounce lime juice
Splash of cranberry juice
Lime wedge
Pour all the ingredients, except the lime wedge, over ice in a large mixing glass. Stir and strain into a chilled martini glass. Squeeze and garnish with the lime.

Cocktail: The Drinks for the 21st Century
by Paul Harrington and Laura Moorhead
New York, NY: Viking (Penguin Putnam Inc.)
1998
Also online at Hotwired Cocktails.)
Pg. 76: Cosmopolitan
Only a few years back, this drink was called the "stealth Martini," first by Barnaby Conrad III, author of _The Martini_, and then by its followers. Whether the name came from the Cosmo's covert kick or from its popularity among those unimpressed by the classic Martini is of little consequence now. We're just glad the cocktail crowd hasn't deemed it passe.

Some bartenders snub the Cosmopolitaqn, comparing it to those drinks on the short list of classic cocktails. We'll admit it lacks complexity, but few can deny this drink's appeal--nor its reliability, especially in establishments staffed by slipshod mixers. In fact, whenever unsure of a bar's integrity, we start the evening with a request for Cosmopolitan, descendant of the Cold War's Cape Cod and respectable sibling of the Kamikaze shooter. Made with 1 1/2 ounces of VODKA, 3/4 ounces of COINTREAU, 1/2 ounce of lime juice, and a splash of cranberry juice, the only way a mizer can sabotage this cocktail is to substitute fake fruit for fresh.

No one seems to have bothered noting who mixed the first Cosmo, though many drink historians and bartenders agree that the gay community in Provincetown, Massachusetts, should be credited with the accomplishment. The moniker Cheryl Cook will occasionally surface, but it leads only to San Francisco, never to an actual person. Many bartenders - such as John Caine, owner of Cafe Mars in San Francisco and undisputed West Coast champion of this drink - partly credit the Cosmopolitan with the resurgence of the cocktail during the '70s, when FERN BARS, with their overly sweet so-called GIRL DRINKS, nearly destroyed the respectability of the bar. After all, "bounce berries" - as they're called on the East Coast - are tart treats more commonly associated with Thanksgiving than with cocktails, so adding their juice to a cocktail constituted a serious break with tradition back then.

The popularity of the Cosmopolitan quickly traveled from New England to New York and then across the country. Characters like MacGyver drink it, and Hunter S. Thompson - the self-proclaimed "mad doctor of gonze journalism"--managed to get it cited in an affidavit used in The People of the State of Colorado v. Hunter Stockton Thompson. Whenever desperate for a cocktail at some endearing singles bar, we're thankful for the Cosmopolitan.
Pg. 77:
1 1/2 ounces vodka
3/4 ounce Cointreau
1/2 ounce lime juice
1 splash cranberry juice
Shake with cracked ice; strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Slate
DIARY
A WEEKLONG ELECTRONIC JOURNAL.
DEC. 11 2000 6:30 PM
Toby Coecchini
(...)
We were constantly messing about with drinks, partly to kill time and partly to quench the insatiable alcoholic thirst of the wait staff, who in turn were drinking to kill time. One night Mesa showed me this drink some girl from San Francisco had made for her at Life Cafe, where Mesa had worked before. It was called the cosmopolitan, and she made it with vodka, Rose's lime, and grenadine. It looked pretty but tasted awful: jarring and artificially sweet and just wrong. I liked the presentation, though, up in a martini glass, so I decided we could take this and make it much better. Absolut had just come out with Citron, so we wanted to use that. We substituted fresh lime juice for the Rose's and put Cointreau in it to soften the citric bite. We added just enough cranberry juice to give it a demure pink blush. We decided it had to be shaken extra hard and long, to make it frothy and opaque, and garnished it with a lemon twist for color and flourish. We thought it was pretty good, like a high-end, girlish kamikaze. The wait staff went nuts for our concoction and started soaking up dozens during their after-hours binges. For a few months the reconceived cosmo was just our private staff drink. But soon enough the staff started raving about them to their friends and some of their favorite regulars, and from there the floodgates opened. Our pride at having fashioned a slick drink that people seemed to adore was quickly pushed aside by the annoyance of having to sling a couple hundred of these labor-intensive pink monstrosities in a night. They became the bane of our existence. Ghoulish people dispensing air kisses at the door would breeze in and bark out that they wanted rounds of them for all their friends. We'd look at each other in puzzlement: "Who the hell is that? How do they know about cosmos?" When I left in 1991 to open the bar at Kin Khao in Soho, we pushed the price of them up to $8—which is now a bargain but at the time seemed like a slap in the face—just to try to stanch the flow. It made no difference.

Straight Up Or On the Rocks:
The Story of the American Cocktail:
by William Grimes
North Point Press
November 2001
Pg. 119:
The image of vodka as a refresher, and the cocktail as a kind of sports drink, reached an apotheosis with the Cosmopolitan, one of the stranger success stories of the present day. The drink, a pleasant blend of vodka, cranberry juice, lime juice, and Cointreau, is a slightly wealthier relative of cranberry coolers like the Cape Codder. It first surfaced in the late 1980s, and unlike other fad cocktails, it has not only survived but prospered. More than a decade after first being sighted, it may well be the most universally ordered mixed drink in America, for reasons that one can onlu guess at. It looks attractive in a glass, with a pink neon glow. It bursts with agreeable fruit flavors. The key to its phenomenal success may, however, bye the name. No one feels silly ordering it. At a time when classic cocktails command new respect, it sounds as though it might have a pedigree. And as a statement, "I am cosmopolitan" is hard to improve on. Like a well-written sit-com, it flatters its audience into believing they are a little more sophisticated and knowing than they really are. It's an insider's cocktail that absolutely everyone drinks, a glossy fake that with effortless charm has insinuated itself into the cocktail repertoire. Like the talented Mr. Ripley, it showed up one day wearing the right clothes. No one knows if it will ever leave.
Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Monday, January 10, 2005 • Permalink