How to make a cosmopolitan: The grown-up vodka cran

Cocktails with Chris

Chris Markham, Director of Print

The cosmopolitan, often known as just “the cosmo,” is truly a modern masterpiece of mixology. With its fruity flavors and pink hue, it’s both easy to drink and easy to recognize. If you like tasty drinks where you can’t taste the alcohol, you’ll like this drink. If you like drinks that are pretty to look at, you’ll like this drink. And if you like vodka cranberries, but want to feel a little more like an actual adult, you’ll like this drink.

On all levels, the cosmopolitan is a great cocktail, especially for beginners who are just now venturing into the world of alcohol. That being said, even people who have been drinking for a while will like it. 

I could tell you about the history of this cocktail, how it came to be and who invented it, but honestly, none of that really matters when it comes to the cosmopolitan. In reality, the only name you need to know—the person who truly brought this drink into the cultural ethos—is the fictional socialite Carrie Bradshaw, played by Sarah Jessica Parker on the TV show “Sex and the City.” The cosmopolitan was Bradshaw’s cocktail of choice, and as such, it became the girly drink to end all girly drinks. 

Indeed, there may not be a single cocktail out there with as “girly” a reputation as the cosmopolitan. You’d be hard pressed to walk into a bar and find a man drinking one, which is absolutely ridiculous, because it’s delicious. The reality is that drinking a cosmopolitan won’t make a man any more feminine, just like drinking whiskey neat won’t make him any more masculine. 

After all, “girly” drinks and “manly” drinks are made up, artificial and irrelevant concepts. As long as you’re 21 years old and you’re being safe, drink whatever you want. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t drink. If you’re a man, go ahead and sip on your bright pink cosmopolitan while all the other insecure men in the bar look on in jealousy. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did and you’ll never go back. 

When it comes to actually making the drink, I like to think of it as a grown-up vodka cran. It’s a simple combination of vodka, cranberry juice, orange liqueur, lime juice and, if you’re me, simple syrup. I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so that last addition really does a lot for me. In my opinion, it’s easy to make this drink too tart, but I think I’ve got the perfect ratios of sweetness and tartness for my own personal taste. 

Of course, tastes may differ. If you really like the tartness of cranberry juice, you may not need the simple syrup. Instead add even more cranberry juice and see if you like it. Or maybe this version of the recipe actually isn’t sweet enough for you, so it needs additional simple syrup. But that’s the great thing about mixology—everyone has different tastes and preferences, and you get to experiment to find the best recipe for you. Personally, though, I’d recommend giving this recipe a try, and then going from there. Enjoy!


1 1/2 ounces vodka

1 ounce orange liqueur (I usually use triple sec)

1 ounce cranberry juice

1/2 ounce fresh lime juice (1/3 ounce if using bottled*)

1/4 ounce simple syrup**


  1. Add ingredients to your cocktail shaker filled with ice***
  2. Shake until sufficiently chilled  
  3. Strain the drink into your preferred glass with or without ice
  4. Enjoy responsibly

*While there’s nothing wrong with using bottled lime juice, in my experience, it tends to have a harsher flavor than fresh-squeezed juice, so I like to dial back the amount of juice I use if I’m using bottled.

**To make simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water into a pot and heat up until the sugar is dissolved. This standard ratio will last about four weeks in the refrigerator. I like to use what’s called a rich simple syrup by using two parts sugar to one part water, which will last for about six months in the refrigerator.

***If you don’t have a cocktail shaker available, you can use a protein shaker bottle, a Mason jar or a thermos that gets a really tight seal.