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This page is continually updated with freshly excavated Cosmopolitan cocktail history research to provide you with the best Cosmopolitan Cocktail history possible. 
         
        Current Read Time | 67 minutes

Madonna / EDB Image Archive/AlamyStock   
I paid a lot of money for the above photo.
I bought it because the stage prop glass looks like a Cosmopolitan with the help of pink light and four people associated with the creation /an or re-creation of the Cosmopolitan say they served Madonna a Cosmo.

Who created the Cosmopolitan cocktail?

  Read my deep dive below, and you can decide. 

           NUTSHELL: I first became interested in the Cosmo Cocktail in 1998.  Over the next several years, I received many emails asking if I was the Cheryl who lived in Florida and created the Cosmopolitan Cocktail.  I did not, but it piqued my curiosity because my name was Cheryl; I lived in Florida and was a bartender making Cosmopolitan cocktails.   In late 2016, I began aggressively researching this cocktail to add it to my 16th book, The Cocktail Companion.  So, down the rabbit hole, I went.  I've added nutshells for you along the way.

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The Cosmopolitan Cocktail

Gary Regan once said, “The Cosmopolitan is the last true classic cocktail to be born in the twentieth century, and this is true —but—the Cosmopolitan would never have reached national or international fame as long as it has if it had not been for the HBO show Sex and the City, which aired between 1998 and 2004. This time in history coincided with the height of the “flavored Martini craze,” so its impact was immense. But how did the Cosmopolitan make its journey to the TV show? As you probably guessed, there are a few stories about its creation. 

 

Regan began researching this cocktail in 2003. I started my research in 2006 after I surfed the "World Wide Web" to learn when this cocktail was first seen and mentioned in the HBO show Sex and the City.  I discovered no one knew the answer, so I checked out the media at the downtown Orlando library. Over the years, I kept a Cosmopolitan file but then aggressively researched the cocktail's origin in 2016 for my 16th favorite book, The Cocktail Companion.  Regan was fascinated with my findings. We Facebook messaged about it up until the week of his death.

 

None of the bartenders connected to the Cosmopolitan would have ever guessed in a million years that this cocktail would become world-famous. Imagine if someone contacted you with questions from 30-40 years ago. It took most people a moment to remember that far back, which required many emails, texts, and phone calls. You have hit the goldmine of the best Cosmopolitan research available if you are a journalist. I have provided helpful information where you can quickly contact these people to verify the information. Contact me if you need more. I'm happy that I could talk to so many people still alive
and happy to share.

 

At times, I do give my unbiased opinion, but for the most part, I share what I recorded. I also shared what I wrote with almost everyone to check for mistakes because I need to be as accurate as possible. You, the reader, will need to connect your dots. Respectfully, I do not share personal information about them or others, their celebrity stories, what I was asked not to share, or anything I felt to be “off the record” conversations. And I have not included those who asked not to be included. 

 

The nutshell version of my research is that two bartenders, fourteen years apart, added a splash of cranberry juice to a Kamikaze, served it up in a Martini glass, and named it the same name—Cosmopolitan. These bartenders are Neal Murray and Cheryl Cook (Cheryl created a Lemon Cosmopolitan). In summary, the Cosmopolitan would likely have faded into obscurity without the HBO television series Sex and the City. Once the show propelled the Cosmopolitan to fame, many individuals and establishments sought to take credit for its popularity.  

 

In the context of the cocktail revolution, where many cocktails shifted towards higher-quality ingredients, the Cosmopolitan stands out as a unique example. It's the only cocktail I know of where bartenders have claimed a higher quality ingredient version of the Kamikaze with a splash of cranberry juice as its creator.

           

Author Candace Bushnell wrote a column for The New York Observer called Sex and The City between 1994 and 1996, and the column led to a hit HBO show by creator Darren Star (1998-2004). The rest is history—as well as her story.

I believe the Cosmopolitan is derived from the Kamikaze shooter, the Kamikaze from the Vodka Gimlet, and the Vodka Gimlet from the Gimlet (made with gin). The modern classic Cosmopolitan with higher quality ingredients is made with citrus vodka, orange liqueur (Cointreau/triple sec), lime, and cranberry juices with a citrus garnish.

 

Before I share my research, the cocktail community would probably like me to share a couple of cocktails: The 1933 Cosmopolitan Daisy and Ocean Spray’s 1968 Harpoon. In the 1933 book Pioneers of Mixing Drinks at Elite Bars, published by the American Travelling Mixologists, there is a cocktail named Cosmopolitan Daisy that some believe to be an early version of the Cosmopolitan. I'm afraid I have to disagree.

The Cosmopolitan Daisy is made with gin, Cointreau, lemon juice, and raspberry syrup with a raspberry garnish—making the only common ingredient the Cointreau/orange liqueur. Plus, it should be called "Cosmopolitan Daisy." For example, would you drop the cocktail category name Tom Collins or John Collins to Tom or John?  What about Julep, Fizz, or Sour, for instance?

Yes, the Cosmopolitan Daisy is served straight up in a cocktail glass and is pink, but four other ingredients do not match up: gin, lemon juice, raspberry syrup, and raspberry garnish. I made this drink, and I liked it. However, it's nothing like the modern Cosmopolitan, but again, how can it be when they have only one ingredient in common?

           In 1968, Ocean Spray cranberry juice promoted the “Harpoon” in a 25-cent recipe booklet titled Mix Around with Cranberry Juice. I was fortunate enough to locate one. You can read the ingredients in the photo to the right.  It is amusing that they describe 1 ounce of spirit and 1 ounce of juice as “A whale of a drink.” This recipe allows you to make many different cocktails, depending on your preference. However, the orange liqueur is missing and served over ice. They placed the two red cocktail glasses graphic near to the Harpoon recipe, which matches the Mexicali Rose recipe.

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HARPOON
1 ounces Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail (they added an "s" to ounce)

1 ounce vodka, rum, or gin

 

Serve over the rocks, or tall with soda. Suggested garnish: a splash of lime or lemon optional. Serves 1.
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Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City, Season 5, 2002. HBO / Photofest

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Photo of Candace Bushnell by akalifepr [CC BY-SA 3.0]  GFDL gnu.org/Wikimedia Commons

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Photos by Cheryl Charming

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Libbey Cocktail 4.5 oz #8882  

Before diving deep below, I wanted to share the Libbey Cocktail Glass 4.5 oz #8882. This cocktail glass has been around since the 1950s. This cocktail glass was used for the 1975 Golden Valley Cosmopolitan. It was the first cocktail glass I saw in 1970s bars and the first cocktail glass I poured a Martini into in the 1980s. It was the cocktail glass used for the 1981 San Francisco Cosmopolitan, and it was the glass used for the 1989 Miami Beach Cosmopolitan. And Paul Bacsik, bar manager (1984-1998) of The Odeon in NYC told me that they used it as well. Today, there are two sizes to choose from; 4.5 oz and 6.5 oz. I just thought you'd like to know.

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Neal Murray
Golden Valley, Minnesota and San Francisco, California
 

The cosmopolitan from Golden Valley to San Francisco

           NUTSHELL: Neal Murray says he created his Cosmopolitan in 1975 at the Cork ’n Cleaver Steakhouse in Golden Valley, Minnesota. In 1981, at the Elite Café in San Francisco, he showed bartender Michael Brennan how to make his Cosmopolitan. It slowly became a popular cocktail throughout the city.  In 1986, Neal worked at the world-famous Fog City Diner, making the cocktail even more popular.  
DOCUMENTATION:  I spoke to two people who witnessed Neal's Cosmopolitan in 1975 at the 
Cork ’n Cleaver Steakhouse in Golden Valley, Minnesota. I'm still looking for two more. I spoke to four people around San Francisco in the early 1980s who confirmed Neal's Cosmopolitan.


I first tried to contact Neal Murray in December 2016 and heard back from him on April 15, 2017. Here is the story he has shared with me. Neal was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on September 15, 1951, to politically influential parents of European, Native American, and African descent. When he was ten years old, his family moved to Roseville, Minnesota. His parents had a white woman/friend buy their land in Roseville because, at the time, people of color were not allowed to purchase and build homes in this area.

 

As a young boy, he had been in the room with many political figures, including President John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Evert Dirksen, to name a few. He met Vice President Hubert Humphrey, Vice President Walter Mondale, and a couple of Minnesota governors, all before he was in high school. Neal was a high achiever and grew up as the “only black kid in school” from 5th to 12th grade. Out of 1200 students in junior high, he was the student council president. At Alexander Ramsey High School, Neal was the vice president of the junior class, student council, and the canteen council that planned the dances. As a senior, he was to become student council president, but he told the school principal that he wanted to see the first woman in the school's history become president. Neal then convinced the principal to let him create a new conference-wide student council. After meeting with all thirteen principals, he founded and became president of a Suburban Conference Student Council representing 22,000 students in thirteen high schools.

 

In the second semester of 1975, while studying political science at the University of Minnesota, Neal applied for a bartender position—without experience—at the Cork ’n Cleaver Steakhouse in Golden Valley, located at 905 Hampshire Avenue South (it’s a Volvo car dealership today). Neal applied for the position with the encouragement of two college friends who worked at Cork ‘n Cleaver, Michael Hannah and John Peterson. Neal quickly made it through the interview and hiring process but learned from Hannah and Peterson that he would not get the job because he was black. The restaurant accountant called Neal a week later to tell him that the managers would be out of town, and if he could learn to be a bartender in four days, she would hire him. As any good college student would, Neal bought Mr. Boston’s Bartender Guide and crammed for three days.

 

By the fall, he was still employed and noticed changes in cocktail trends. Neal watched the Gimlet (gin and Rose’s lime juice) change into a Vodka Gimlet and then into the shooter Kamikaze (Vodka Gimlet with triple sec). One cold autumn night, Neal was experimenting with cocktails and made a connection between a Cape Cod (vodka and cranberry with a lime garnish) and the Kamikaze. He poured a little cranberry juice into the Kamikaze, then shook and strained it into a stemmed cocktail glass (Neal made it with Gordon’s vodka, Leroux triple sec, Rose’s Lime Juice, and Ocean Spray cranberry juice with a lime wedge garnish). A regular sitting at the bar asked Neal about the pink drink. At first, Neal  didn’t have an answer but smiled and said, “I just thought it needed a little color,” making a joke about how he was hired. The regular said, “How cosmopolitan!” and the Cosmopolitan was born. 

 

I have not been able to locate college classmates and
co-workers Michael Hannah or John Peterson, but in 2017, I spoke with other friends, Greg Harris and Steve Knapp, who had visited Neal at the Cork
‘n Cleaver.

Fun fact: Neal, Harris, and Knapp were Alexander Ramsey High School classmates with Richard Dean Anderson, better known as MacGyver. I talked to Harris (born in 1950), and he confirmed that he and his wife Patty visited Neal at the Cork ‘n Cleaver but admitted he’s never been a “mixed drink person” and does not remember the Cosmopolitan. He said he would ask his wife, but she has passed away. It took some time to connect with Steve Knapp (born in 1950) as he lives in an off-grid cabin without a car, phone, or Internet six months out of the year.  Neal told me that when Knapp was in high school, he rode his bicycle from St. Paul to Vancouver, British Columbia, and he still rides hundreds of miles every year. Anyway, I finally spoke with Knapp over the phone, and he was full of energy. He remembered Neal’s Cosmopolitan, visiting Cork ‘n Cleaver with Harris, and told me about a farewell John Denver concert he worked at before Denver moved to Colorado and some other bars he tended bar at Butler Square in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Knapp even suggested that I contact bar schools to see what year the Cosmopolitan first entered into their curriculum. I contacted Ricky Richard, the owner of Crescent Bartending School, founded in 1983, and he researched for me. He discovered that the Cosmopolitan recipe was in his curriculum around 1990.

 

In 1977, Neal moved to Washington, DC, to take a position as a congressional intern. While traveling to visit friends, Neal always ordered a Cosmopolitan, explaining to each bartender that it was a Kamikaze with cranberry juice served "up" in a cocktail glass. He ordered the cocktail everywhere he traveled, including Boston, Manhattan, Atlanta, Miami, airport bars, and every bar he visited up and down the East Coast.

 

In 1979, Neal gave up politics and moved to San Francisco to study psychology at San Francisco State University. While in school, he worked as a waiter at Enzo’s restaurant in the Embarcadero Center and then at Kimball’s—not once pushing the Cosmopolitan. But all that changed in 1981 when he handed his 30th resume of the day to co-owner Tom Clendening at a New Orleans cuisine restaurant called the Elite Café (2049 Fillmore Street). Neal accepted a waiter position because even in this day and time, you still did not see black bartenders. I finally contacted Clendening in July 2019, and he confirmed that the Cosmopolitan was indeed invented by one of his employees.  Neal recommended the Cosmopolitan cocktail to his customers, making the Elite Cafe (est. 1932) the first place the Cosmo was served in San Francisco.

The first bartender Neal taught to make the Cosmopolitan was Michael Brennan. You can also read about him here, here, here, and here. There are other artists with the same name, so I wanted to give you the correct one. I spoke with Brennan (born in 1952) over the phone in 2017. He bartended in San Francisco for 15 years and remembered Neal, other co-workers, and, of course, making many Cosmopolitans. However, he did not know he was the first in San Francisco to make one. Brennan's passion has always been art. He started painting in the third grade. Today, he is a famous San Francisco artist and has designed many spaces, restaurants, and bars in San Francisco. You can check out his latest unconventional design work at the Curio Bar, which opened in June 2018 (775 Valencia Street). As for the Elite Cafe, it went through four owners and closed in April 2019. I asked Brennan for some "back in the day" photos, and he replied, "The ex-wife has all of those."

 

I also spoke with co-worker and waiter Hugh Tennent. During my research on Tennent, I found a small September 10, 1982 article in The Honolulu Advisor Hawaii newspaper that read, “Honolulu adwoman Lynn Cook was dining at the Elite Café in San Francisco, and her waiter was Hugh Tennant, [sic] grandson of artist Madge Tennant [sic].” Hugh’s grandmother, Madeline “Madge” Grace Cook Tennent (1889–1972), was considered the most important contributor to Hawaiian art in the 20th century. I found Tennent via his sister, Madge Walls, who is a writer and lives in Oregon. It took quite a while to connect with Tennent because he does not have an email address, doesn’t text, and rarely answers his cell phone. I left several messages, and he finally answered one in December 2017. Tennent (born in 1947) lives in Hilo, Hawaii. He drives a tour van for fun, but his passions are golf and cars. Tennent was outgoing and remembered Neal, Brennan, and Cosmopolitans at the Elite Café. He also recalled another bartender named Willie Karnofsky and talked about him for quite some time about how he was a model and golfer back in the day. In 2018, I called Karnofsky (born in 1956) via the phone number on his website. He remembered the Elite Café days, Neal, Brennan, and Tennent, but sadly did not remember serving the Cosmopolitan. But he said his focus at the time was golf, not cocktails.

 

In 1984, Neal often visited Union Street bars and ordered the Cosmopolitan. Singer Boz Scaggs owned one bar he often visited called Blue Light Cafe. Also, in 1984, he left the Elite Café to be part of the opening crew at the Café Royale (2050 Van Ness). But in 1985, Fog City Diner General Manager Douglas “BIX” Biederbeck hired Neal as a bartender to help serve a celebrity clientele. Bill Higgins, Bill Upson, and Cindy Pawlcyn owned The Fog City Diner. It became a national hot spot within five years due to VISA featuring it in a commercial. While at Fog City Diner, Neal created his first Cosmo spin-off by switching out the vodka for Mt. Gay Barbados Rum and called it a Barbados Cosmopolitan. It became an instant hit in the gay community. (Douglas “BIX” Biederbeck put the cocktail on his BIX restaurant menu and remained on it for many years.

 

Biederbeck became part of the Real Restaurant Group and opened many more San Francisco restaurants. In 2008, he released a book called Bixology . On page 11, he writes, “We were the first West Coast restaurant to respark the current Martini boom. It’s a little hard to imagine that, only twenty years ago, the white-wine spritzer, gin and tonic, and occasional sweet drink were the calls of choice. The Cosmopolitan had only recently been invented, and there were about six vodkas known to man.”  

 

By 1988 Douglas “BIX” Biederbeck went on to be a true San Francisco restaurateur. He opened his first restaurant, BIX (56 Gold Street), a swanky jazz bar still employing two original white-jacketed barmen, Bradley Avey, and Bruce Minkiewicz.  I contacted Biederbeck via bixrestaurant.com, and to my great surprise, he called me at 5 PM central time on November 22, 2017. He remembered hiring Neal at Fog City Diner and even put his Barbados Cosmopolitan on his BIX menu. He said, “It was a good drink.” We chit-chatted about how I lived in New Orleans and how BIX was a jazz bar. He ended our conversation by suggesting I contact the Fog City Diner owner and chef at the time, Cindy Pawlcyn—a pioneer in developing wine country cuisine.

I was able to contact Pawlcyn via her website. Her email said, "Of course, I remember the Cosmopolitan at Fog City Diner. It was one of my favorite cocktails, and it was very popular amongst [sic] the customers." Like , she grew up in the Minneapolis area and made her way to San Francisco in 1979. She said that the waiters referred to it as a “girl drink.”  At Fog City Diner, Pawlcyn was pairing cheeseburgers with Champagne. Today, she has four cookbooks and is a James Beard Award winner. She has been nominated twice for the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef in California

 

In 1986, a Fog City Diner customer gave Neal a VIP card to the famous Limelight nightclub in New York City (20th Street and Sixth Avenue). So, he and his friend Dana Williams flew to the Big Apple to use the card. Sure enough, the card got them to the front line, and they walked in immediately. And, of course, Neal ordered a Cosmopolitan, explaining how to make it to the bartender. Neal said he also visited Area (157 Hudson Street) and Milk Bar (2 Seventh Avenue South), each time ordering a Cosmopolitan. I have joined Facebook pages for all the clubs mentioned, and no one has posted that they remember a Cosmopolitan yet. 

 

In 1989, Julie Ring from Julie’s Supper Club (1123 Folsom Street) hired Neal as head bartender and part owner of Miss Pearl’s Jam House (601 Eddy Street in the Phoenix Hotel). Neal said Ring didn’t realize Neal had a large following around San Francisco with his Cosmopolitans. He introduced another new Cosmo twist called the Cactus Cosmo, made with aloe vera juice and tequila.

 

In 2004, The Almanac published an article titled How Cosmopolitan! Marche's maitre d' lays claim to creating the Cosmopolitan cocktail. In 2010, Cheers Magazine Online released "The True Original Cosmopolitan Cocktail Story."  

 

Neal traveled a lot throughout his life and ordered a Cosmopolitan at every bar he visited. He went on to work at many San Francisco restaurants as a consultant and general manager, and in 2016, he retired. 
In April 2018, he visited me at the Bourbon O Jazz Bar in New Orleans, and I was so busy that I forgot to take a photo with him.  But in November 2023,  I got another chance.

The Cosmopolitan recipe he gave me is under the Cosmopolitan Fun Facts section. 

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1970s Neal Murray. Photo by Neal Murray.

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1981 photo of the Cork ’n Cleaver Steakhouse in Golden Valley,MN

slphistory.org/wayzatabuildingsnorth

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Photo by mhcphotography.wordpress.com

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2017 Neal Murray. Photo by Neal Murray.

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The famous Elite Cafe neon sign from 1932. From sfneon.blogspot.com. 

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1981 Elite Cafe owner Tom Clendening. In July of 2019, he fondly remembered the two bartenders (Michael Brennan & and Willie Karnosky) and two waiters (Neal Murray & Hugh Tennant) whom I had already spoken to and then thanked me for the memories. 
I asked what glass he used, and he said, “We served all of our “up” cocktails in a Libbey Martini glass (Libbey 8882 Retro Cocktail 4.5 oz).

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1982 Elite Cafe menu. Neal Murray said the menu changed daily by hand.

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Photo by michaelbrennanart.design. I believe Michael Brennan was the first San Francisco bartender Neal Murray told how to make Cosmopolitan in 1981.

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Madge Tennent lectures at the Honolulu Academy of Arts in 1950. By HawaiiCalls [CC BY-SA 4.0] Wikimedia Commons

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Douglas “BIX” Biederbeck from bixrestaurant.com

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Photo of award-winning chef Cindy Pawcyn mustardsgrill.com

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1989  The bar staff at Miss Pearl's Jam House. Neal Murray is on the right. Photo by Neal Murray.

San Francisco Restaurant History Wall. Video by Neal Murray.

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November 20, 2023  Neal Murray and me. Sacramento, CA.

John Caine

Provincetown, Massachusetts, Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio, and San Francisco, California

             NUTSHELL: John Caine says that he first heard of the Cosmopolitan around 1986 while tending bar at

The Rusty Copper in Cleveland, Ohio.  He moved to San Francisco in 1987.  One place he tended bar was

Julie's Supper Club.  The owner would introduce John as the inventor of the Cosmopolitan.
DOCUMENTATION: None, just his own words.

When you google the Cosmopolitan cocktail, the name John Caine always comes up in association with Provincetown, Ohio, and San Francisco. I was able to locate John in November of 2017 in San Francisco, where he has lived with his wife since 1987. All of the Cosmopolitan-related Internet I read about John gave me the impression that he was quite boisterous and energetic. So, his first email reply to me on November 27, 2017, did not surprise me when he said, “Hey Cheryl, Good to hear from you, and yes, I am still quite vain in this ego-based business of cocktail culture and love talking about myself...still!” His second email reply said, “Let's be clear. I did not invent the Cosmo.”

 

John Caine (born in 1959) first heard of the Cosmopolitan cocktail around 1984 when he worked at The Rusty Scupper in Cleveland, Ohio (corner of 14th and Euclid Streets). He said, “My gay co-workers went on pilgrimages to gay capitals such as P-town (Provincetown). I'd be working with them when each one recounted "magic nights" celebrating freedom of expression all along talking about this drink—The Cosmo.”

 

When The Rusty Scupper closed in 1984, John moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, for his 8th year of undergraduate school. John was one of those people who loved college. He said it was easier than real life. John took a bartender job at The Diner (1203 Sycamore Street) and worked there for three years. It’s where he met his future wife, Sarah, as well. Just as he heard about the Cosmopolitan in Cleveland, it was true for Cincinnati.

 

In 1987, the couple decided to move to San Francisco, where restaurant service is more of a career. John worked a few places in the city but then finally

he worked for Julie Ring at Julie’s Supper Club (1123 Folsom Street). John said Julie’s was a great supper club where Julie layered in Frank Sinatra and James Brown music.  Later into the night, John changed the music to hip cocktail lounge mixes. He said bar-top dancing was the norm. John taught the staff how to make a Cosmopolitan, and Julie introduced John as the Cosmopolitan cocktail inventor. John did not tell me that he denied it. He said, "I had to explain that I was merrily along for the ride with a good go-to cocktail. Julie’s sold a lot of Martinis, so it was a perfect environment for the Cosmopolitan." I believe there’s a connection here of how Anthony Dias Blue came to write the Cosmopolitan recipe from Julie’s Supper Club in the first known book to mention the Cosmopolitan in The Complete Book of Mixed Drinks in 1993.

Thank you, Marcovaldo Dionysos!

 

John has opened many restaurants and bars in San Francisco. As of 2021, he owns ATwater Tavern (295 Terry A Francois Blvd) and HIDive Restaurant (28 Pier).

Below was "John Caine's Famous Cosmopolitan," listed on his Atwater Tavern menu, in 2018. When I checked the link in 2020, it had been removed. In 2021, the entire drink menu was deleted from the website. In addition, he removed all mention of his Cosmo on the HIDive website and closed his Facebook account. There is one older interview article to view.

My thoughts:

1. An ingredient is missing in his "John Caine's Famous Cosmopolitan" on his online ATwater Tavern menu. Do the ingredients appear to be an Absolut Cape Codder? 

2. On the menu below, John says he brought the recipe to San Francisco in 1987. However, the Cosmopolitan was already a "thing" in SF since 1981.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As for Provincetown, I have contacted fifteen people from the 1980s who lived and partied in P-town, and only four have returned my emails.  I started my search on this site (ptownevents.com/1980s-provincetown) and this site. All four contacts do not remember a cocktail called Cosmopolitan during that time. One lady, Pamela R. Genevrino, owned the gay bar Pied Piper EST 1971, later changed the name to Pied Bar, and sold it in 2019, which got a new name, The Club.  She said her trademarked Pied Piper Tea was the most popular drink in P-town. When I asked if she remembered the Cosmopolitan in the 1980s, she said, "Nope!" and suggested I contact Jessie Muccie for more information. I'm still searching for Jessie.  

My thoughts:

1. This leads me to believe that since the Cosmopolitan was first introduced to San Francisco in 1981 and not introduced to New York City or Miami, Caine’s Ohio gay co-workers were visiting San Francisco, not Provincetown.

2. I have also tried to contact Julie Ring, but no such luck yet. Facebook shows that she was camping with John Caine in June of 2019. Caine's Facebook page has been taken down, and the photo of him with Ring has been too.

3. Sorry, no photos. I've asked several times, but none have been shared yet. Caine stopped replying to my emails.

 

 

Tom Richter

I received an email from Tom Richter saying, "Hi Cheryl, I was bartending at the Zuni Cafe in San Francisco in

1987...And we were already making a Cosmo there with fresh lime juice. (and by the way, we were using the
Mexican lime press that was only available in one store in the mission district). When I moved east, one of my colleagues and I kept ordering them from that store, and now they are everywhere!

I'm currently locating any co-workers, managers, etc., to verify this story.

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Public photo of John Caine from John Caine's Facebook page 2015. Caine has since taken his Facebook page down.

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Thank you, Marcovaldo Dionysos!

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The Cosmopolitan From San Francisco to New York

Patrick “Patty” Mitten​
San Francisco, California and New York, New York

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Patrick "Patty" Mitten and Peter Pavia in the late 1980s. Photo by Patty Mitten.

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Patrick "Patty" Mitten 2016. Photo by Patty Mitten. Look at those curls! I love it.

             NUTSHELL: Patty Mitten first heard of the Cosmopolitan from his manager at the Patio Café in San Francisco.  He moved to NYC in 1987 and began working at the Life Café in the East Village. He taught

co-workers Melissa Huffsmith and Peter Pavia how to make the cocktail.
DOCUMENTATION:  Emails and FB Messages from one bar owner and two co-workers.

 

I believe that Patrick “Patty” Mitten is the bartender who brought the Cosmopolitan from San Francisco to New York City in October of 1987. Patty was born in Coventry, England, in 1965. He attended the Royal Ballet School in London and then, in 1985, went to work for the San Francisco Ballet for a year. When his Visa expired, Patty took a bartender position that paid “under the table” at the Patio Café (531 Castro Street...now Hamburger Mary's). It was here that he first learned of the Cosmopolitan cocktail. Patty distinctly remembers his manager, Alan Mary Kay, walking in one day, saying, “I just tried a new cocktail, and it’s pink! It’s called a Cosmopolitan. It’s a Kamikaze with cranberry but served as a Martini.” Patty said Kay was very colorful and loved everything pink, so he loved the Cosmo.
Patty and I have tried to locate Kay, but no such luck yet.

 

By 1987, all of Patty’s friends, including his partner, had died of AIDS, so he made a fresh start and moved to New York City on the weekend of September 27 for the closing of the famous Paradise Garage nightclub (84 King Street). In October, he took a bartender position in the East Village at the Life Café (343 E 10th St B). I emailed the then-owner Kathleen “Kathy” Life in November of 2017 to see if she remembered Patty working for her in the late 1980s. She said, “Yes, I do remember him. He was charming. A very nice, pleasant young man and a very good employee.” 

 

By the way, the Life Café became famous in 2005 when it was a film location for the famous restaurant scene in the musical drama film adapted from the Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning musical Rent.

 

I learned of Patty through communicating with Melissa Huffsmith, a Life Café co-worker. Melissa is the girl Toby Cecchini wrote about in his book who first told him about a San Francisco cocktail called the Cosmopolitan, but more on that later. Patty adored Melissa. He said she was intelligent, funny, and sexy. Patty also told me of another co-worker named Peter Pavia. I emailed Kathy Life again and asked if she remembered Pavia, and she said, “Yes, I remember Pete very well. I can hear his distinct voice. He worked for me for quite a long time. He was smart, interesting, had a good sense of humor, was a great employee, and was confident behind the bar. I enjoyed his good nature when on duty. I believe he was a writer when not tending bar.” 

 

So, Patty taught Pavia, Melissa, and the entire staff how to make the San Francisco pink Martini called a Cosmopolitan. They sold them to customers in Martini glasses, but the staff drank them on the rocks in to-go cups. Patty said he served a Cosmo to Madonna when she was auditioning dancers for her hit "Vogue" and even served one to Sarah Jessica Parker when they were filming the pilot of Sex and the City.

 

Patty is still tending bar today. He lives in the seaside town of Brighton, England, and works at the historic Grand Hotel.

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Patrick "Patty" Mitten in the 1980s. Photo by Patty Mitten.

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Melissa Huffsmith in the 1980s. Public photo from Huffsmith's Facebook page.

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Melissa Huffsmith-Roth 2014. Public photo from Huffsmith's Instagram.

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Melissa Huffsmith-Roth 2016. Public photo from Huffsmith's Instagram.

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              NUTSHELL: Melissa Huffsmith-Roth says she first heard of the Cosmopolitan from co-worker Patty Mitten at the Life Café around January 1988.  In April of 1989, she took a bartender job at The Odeon.  She first showed her manager how to make the cocktail but upgraded some ingredients to  Absolut Citron, Cointreau, and fresh lime juice. (Lemon Cosmopolitan)
DOCUMENTATION: Emails and FB messages from one bar owner, one bar manager, three co-workers, and Toby Cecchini's book Cosmopolitan: A Bartender's Life.

 

Finding Melissa was vital to the New York City Cosmopolitan puzzle because she is the co-worker Toby Cecchini mentions in his 2003 book Cosmopolitan: A Bartender’s Life who first told him about the San Francisco Cosmopolitan. I received a couple of friendly email replies from Huffsmith in November and December of 2017. I also emailed back in June of 2018 to verify a few dates. She began her Cosmopolitan story with “The real Cosmo story:” She said that she first learned of the Cosmopolitan from Life Café co-worker Patrick “Patty” Mitten. She said Mitten learned to make the Cosmopolitan in San Francisco, and the recipe was a Kamikaze with a little cranberry juice. She said, “We used to make them in big milkshake to-go cups.” After speaking with two co-workers (Mitten and Pavia), she meant the “staff” drank Cosmos on the rocks in Go cups.

 

Huffsmith left the Life Café for a bartender position at The Odeon in April 1989. She says that she remembers the exact month because she had a series of “April” jobs; she started The Odeon in April of 1989, left The Odeon five years later in April 1994 for a bartender position at Lucky Strike (59 Grand Street), and then left Lucky Strike in April for another job.

 

When Huffsmith started working at The Odeon, her manager was Paul Bacsik. One night Bacsik was making her a shift drink, and Huffsmith requested a Cosmopolitan. Bacsik didn’t know what it was, so Huffsmith told him how to make it. She explained that it was vodka, triple sec, and Rose's lime with a splash of cranberry juice. When Bacsik asked her what kind of vodka to use, she felt experimental (because at Life Café, they did not have upgraded brands), so she decided to try Absolut Citron (since it was new), Cointreau, fresh lime juice, and cranberry juice. She said it was yummy. Huffsmith said that the fresh lime juice gave the drink a beautiful, refreshing, cloudy light pink lemonade look, and all the bartenders started making them for the regulars. I asked Huffsmith if she remembers serving any celebrities, and she said, “I served everyone. Literally everyone.” She particularly remembered designer Gordon Henderson, who was one of the biggest preachers of the word of the Cosmo because he loved the cocktail and made everybody he brought into The Odeon try one. She concluded, “Pretty soon, we started getting calls from other bars about the recipe. It became a thing. Other people have different recollections, but that’s the real story. Fun, right? Let me know if you have any more questions.” 

 

In the second email, I asked Melissa if she remembered working with a co-worker named Toby Cecchini, and she said, “Yep! I know he wrote a book and claims ownership of the Cosmo recipe. I haven’t read the book, but if there is a Melissa in there, then it’s me”. She also mentioned in another email that Cecchini was a waiter when she started working at The Odeon in April 1989. Melissa is who told me about Patrick “Patty” Mitten, who then told me about Peter Pavia.

 

Huffsmith is from Boxford, Massachusetts, and lives in Astoria, New York. She is a New York

City-based editor, photographer, and musician. You can view her website and Instagram

The Cosmopolitan recipe she gave me is under the Cosmopolitan Fun Facts section. 

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Melissa Huffsmith-Roth​
New York, New York

Peter Pavia​

New York, New York

   

 

                NUTSHELL: Peter Pavis says he first heard of the Cosmopolitan from co-worker Patty Mitten at the Life Café around January 1988.  He says his co-worker Melissa Huffsmith took the Cosmopolitan Cocktail to The Odeon in 1989. 
DOCUMENTATION: Emails and FB Messages from one bar owner and two co-workers.

Peter Pavia and Melissa Huffsmith started working at Life Café around the same time in January 1988—the same time that Patrick “Patty” Mitten introduced them to the Cosmopolitan. One of his first sentences to me was, “Yes, Patrick “Patty” Mitten was without a doubt the man who brought the Cosmopolitan to New York City.”

 

Pavia talked about how he drank a “raspy little concoction” called the Kamikaze in bars from 1975-1980, and the Cosmopolitan was essentially a pink Kamikaze with the only modification being a dash of cranberry juice. He said, “And Patty showed me how to make it.”

I asked Pavia if he ever made them in go cups. Pavia said, “The bartenders at Life Café certainly made drinks to go in large paper cups, although this would be illegal in New York City. There were two categories of liquor licenses in the State of New York: on-premises and off-premises. You could not consume drinks at an off-premises establishment such as a liquor store and, conversely, aren’t supposed to buy liquor to take out from a restaurant or bar.

 

As for Melissa, he said that Life Café was a hangout for East Village locals, and when Melissa went to The Odeon, she brought the drink much higher visibility because that bar attracted a much more urbane and moneyed international crowd, and the surge in the drink’s popularity was exponential. Now, of course, as bartenders will do, modifications were made, and the biggest shift was when the syrupy Rose’s lime with fresh lime juice, and as a nascent cocktail culture took hold, the ingredients were of a higher quality. He continues by saying, “It has been well said that success has a thousand fathers while failure is an orphan, and a number of players who were around at the time claimed authorship of the Cosmopolitan.

 

After Life Café, from 1991-1992, Pavia worked as a fill-in bartender at a Soho bar called Kin Khao (171 Spring Street), managed by Toby Cecchini. I texted Cecchini, but he said he did not remember Pavia. Pavia said the Cosmopolitan was the overwhelming number one popular drink at Kin Khao.

 

From 1994-1996, Pavia worked at another Soho bar called Match (160 Mercer Street) and was making many Cosmos, with some of them quaffed by none other than Candace Bushnell herself. Bushnell is who wrote the Sex and the City column for the New York Observer between 1994-1996, which soon led to the hit HBO show. Pavia’s last shift was at the Uptown Match at 29 East 65th Street. It was also the night he met his lovely wife.

 

Pavia is the author of Dutch Uncle, The Cuba Project, and co-author of The Other Hollywood: The Uncensored Oral History of the Porn Film Industry. His work has appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, New York Post, GQ, Detour, and Gear. He lives in New York with his wife and daughter.

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Peter Pavia tending bar at Life Café sometime between 1988-1990. Public photo from Pavia's Facebook page.

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Peter Pavia in 1999. Public photo from Pavia's Facebook page.

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Peter Pavia in 2015. Public photo from Pavia's Facebook page.

​Paul Bacsik

New York, New York

               NUTSHELL: Paul Bacsik first heard of the Cosmopolitan from Melissa Huffsmith at The Odeon 1989. He                       was her bar manager   

 

I first learned of Paul Bacsik (born March 3, 1954) from Melissa Huffsmith. I emailed him on November 22, 2017, and heard back from him the same day; then we spoke over the phone after Thanksgiving. I loved listening to his stories. Bacsik was hired at The Odeon as a bartender in 1984, then in 1986, he was promoted to bar manager and wine director while also picking up three bartender night shifts a week. Bacsik worked for The Odeon for fourteen years until 1998. When Cecchini was a waiter, Bacsik asked permission to make him into a bartender. Ownership agreed, and Cecchini was all for it. Bacsik asked me about Melissa, where she was, and what she was doing, then told me she was his favorite person to tend bar with.  I gave each other's contact information so they could reunite.

 

Bacsik remembered many things: the Cosmopolitan, celebrity stories, and Gary Farmer, the most charismatic bartender he had ever

seen—he was so charming that people didn’t mind waiting to be served by him.  In 1984, Farmer left for a position at another celebrity-fueled restaurant, Indochine (430 Lafayette Street). In 1985, moved to Miami Beach to open a bar called The Strand where the Miami Beach Cosmopolitan was created. 

Bacsik is from Rahway, New Jersey, attended college at The University of Connecticut, and lives in New York, New York. He is the co-owner of Little Wine Company.

 

SUPER WILD COSMO COINCIDENCE CONNECTION: In March of 1989, Farmer played a part in the Miami Beach Cosmopolitan—which was independent of the Cosmopolitan at The Odeon that had not become a thing yet (more on Farmer in the Miami section of the Cosmo story). It's wild to me that out of all the thousands of bars, Farmer worked at The Odeon in NYC and the The Strand in Miami Beach; two bars with a Cosmopolitan connection.

 

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Chef Stephen Lyle 

New York, New York

 

              NUTSHELL: Chef Stephen Lyle first heard of the Cosmopolitan at The Odeon at the same time when Melissa Huffsmith worked there.   

I learned that Steven Lyle was the chef at The Odeon, who worked with Paul Bascik, Melissa Huffsmith, and Toby Cecchini. In January 2018, I emailed him, and he responded. He said he remembered the Cosmopolitan at The Odeon because it was a big deal when he worked there. He also said they drank a fair amount of them, which was still his wife’s go-to cocktail. 

 

Stephen Lyle began his career at age 17, with a formal French apprenticeship in a Michelin-starred restaurant in the South of France, where he lived during his teenage years. He then moved to New York, worked at Quatorze, The Odeon, and opened his restaurant, Village, in 2000. In 2013, Lyle became a corporate chef at the cutting-edge, fast-growing chain Dig Inn. He lives with his wife in Tribeca, New York City, and is an avid cyclist. 

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Steven K. Lyle photo is from stevenkyle.com

​Toby Cecchini

New York, New York

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              NUTSHELL: This is a confusing nutshell.  In his 2003 book Cosmopolitan: A Bartender's Life, Toby wrote that he first heard of the Cosmopolitan at The Odeon from co-worker Melissa Huffsmith in 1987. Later, in interviews, he changed the date to 1988.  Co-workers (and patrons) of The Odeon told me Toby was promoted from server to bartender in the Fall of 1989.   In his book, he says Melissa showed him the Cosmopolitan in 1987, and together, they re-invented it into a
high-end Kamikaze (Lemon Cosmopolitan).  Over the years,
Toby's story has changed back and forth from him, and Melissa re-invented it, and he alone re-invented it.  As of 2022, he says that it's "his" cocktail.
DOCUMENTATION: His 2003 book Cosmopolitan: A Bartender's Life.

I emailed Toby Cecchini (cha-KEE-nee) in December 2016, and we spoke on the phone in early January 2017. I bugged him with questions via text for over a year. I'm sure I annoyed him, but as you can see, I like to dig deep and gather as much info as possible from many people. While I appreciate Toby taking his time with me, sadly, I wasn't given many leads and was discouraged from seeking more information from people. His exact words were, "It's a dead end." Although I asked many times, Toby did not share the requested photos. 

 

I learned most of my information from his book and online interviews from reputable sites and videos. Toby Cecchini was born September 23, 1963, and is a first-generation American who grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. In 1951, his dad emigrated from Florence, Italy, to Madison, WI, and was an artist and great cook; he allowed his children to drink watered-down wine at the dinner table and had a unique way of making a pitcher of Gin & Tonics.  

             

In his 2003 memoir Cosmopolitan: A Bartender’s Life, Toby documented his life as a bartender. In the book, he talks about waiting tables to put himself through college in Madison. Then, in his junior year, he signed up for a French college program where he learned a lot about wine. Toby went to New York City by following a girl he had met in Paris, but in his words, it “blew apart.” He said that one afternoon in 1987, he recognized The Odeon neon sign from the 1984 Jay McInerney novel’s cover Big Lights, Big City, and decided to take a waiter position long enough to make money to return to France. He writes, “I had no idea I would leave the Odeon, four years later, a wholly changed man.” While reading Toby’s book, I enjoyed learning new words—with each digital page turn, I clicked words to discover their meaning. You can read an excerpt from the first chapter of his book here.


Toby’s Cosmopolitan story is a few pages long and begins with the sentence, “I did not invent the Cosmopolitan.” You can read these pages on Google Books or go the Amazon route. The book has three different covers now; the burgundy is the original. Here are the exact words about the Cosmopolitan: 

     I did not invent the Cosmopolitan. Not technically, at any rate. I’ve had to reiterate this position to someone or other every year or three since 1987, whereupon that person invariably writes me up as the Inventor of the Cosmopolitan. I did invent what you think of as the drink, the version everyone means when they order it, last decade’s instantly understood signifier of crass, table-hopping New York privilege. Perhaps it’s better to say I re invented it. But a drink called the Cosmopolitan existed in name before I took my hand to it, and so, by strict definition, I am not its creator. By every other consideration, however, it’s my drink, for better or worse.

     One night Mesa showed me this drink some girl from San Francisco had made for her at Life Café, where Mesa had worked before. It was called the Cosmopolitan and she made it with it much better. Absolut had just come out with Citron, so we wanted to use that, for no particular reason other than that it was the new, cool thing at the moment. We naturally substituted fresh lime juice for the Rose’s and put Cointreau in it to soften the citric bite. To stand in for the grenadine 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 found it was surprisingly good, like a high-end, girlish Kamikaze. Cute. We didn’t think anything much else about it, it was just another drink we made up in a long line of them that we concocted to amuse or gross out one another, which were then palmed off on the wait staff.

My thoughts:

1. The first paragraph includes I, I, and my. In the second paragraph, it's her, we, and we. The word "we" is used eight times.

2. Toby said Melissa (Mesa) told him about a drink a "girl" from San Francisco made for her at Life Cafe. I believe this was Patty
(Patrick Mitten's nickname), the male bartender who brought the cocktail from SF to NYC in 1987. Because "Patty" sounds like a 
girl's
name. 

In Toby's mind, a "female" told Melissa about the Cosmo, but it was a guy named Patrick.

 

I could not find a bar called Life Cafe in San Francisco, which brought me to a dead stop. On October 16, 2017, I texted Toby "A San Fran friend just got back with me. There is not a Life Cafe in the records.... maybe it was Elite Cafe? Maybe the Melissa girl got the business names wrong?  Toby texted back, "No, Life Cafe was in the East Village, in New York. It's completely unimportant."  Maybe it was unimportant to Toby, but very important for my NYC research because it burst open the bar door that connected me with the previous owner, Kathleen “Kathy” Life, and its employees in the late 1980s. 

 

Toby told me one piece of information I didn't see or hear in interviews. He said that in

2005 or 2007 (he could not remember the exact year), he saw the Cosmopolitan on a bar menu

in Warsaw, Poland, that credited him as the inventor—it was then he realized the impact and popularity of the Cosmopolitan. I asked him several times throughout the year if he remembered

the exact year, but he did not. 
_______________________________________________________________________________________
 

During my research, I tried to pinpoint the year when Toby was credited for creating Cosmopolitan. Yes, he wrote about it in his 2003 book, but that's self-proclaimed and a very small book genre.  
I believe it came from articles
by cocktail writer Gary Regan in the 2000s and by cocktail writer Robert Simonson in the 2010s. (Regan changed his story in 2012)
 

 Writing about and researching history can be tricky because new information can be excavated at any time that can completely change a story.

 

Mid-1990s

Gary Regan began researching the birth of the Cosmopolitan.

 

2000

This article written by Toby in December of 2000 says"I have pointed out clearly to every journalist I’ve spoken to over the years that I did not, in fact, invent the drink, but it seems to dampen no one’s enthusiasm. I did, with my friend Melissa, cobble together the version everyone drinks now, or perhaps reinvent the drink."

 

2003

Toby's book Cosmopolitan is released. In the book, he writes that in 1987, a girl named.

Melissa told him about a grenadine-lime drink from San Francisco, and together, they revamped the cocktail 1987 at The Odeon.

My thoughts:

1. Four people I contacted told me that Melissa started working at The Odeon in April 1989, and Toby worked as a waiter at The Odeon from 1987 to the fall of 1989. He was promoted and worked as a bartender from the fall of 1989 to the fall of 1991.

2. Later, in interviews, Toby changed the year 1987 to 1988. He was probably made aware that Absolut Citron was not around until late 1988

/early 1989. 

3. I spoke with many San Francisco bartenders, owners, managers,

co-workers, etc.; Rose's grenadine was never mentioned. Only one

NYC person mentioned grenadine, so far.  That person is Toby. So, I'm unsure how the grenadine made it into the story.

 

2003 

You can download a radio interview here and listen to Toby talk about his book Cosmopolitan: A Bartender's Life. In the intro, the radio host describes Toby as the reinventor of the Cosmo."

My thoughts:

1. At 9:00, the radio host asks about the Cosmopolitan, saying that Toby is the inventor or one of the people who invented it; he agrees with a hum but never mentions Melissa. Later, he says he stopped laying claim to the cocktail.

 

2003

This article says, "Toby is known around New York for having reinvented the Cosmopolitan when he worked at the Odeon in the late 1980s...then one thing led to another. Maybe."

My thoughts:

1. Melissa helping Toby reinvent the Cosmo is not mentioned.

2004

In September, Gary Regan published a review of Toby's book in his ArdentSpirits.com (defunct) newsletter. The first sentence reads, "Whether he likes it or not, as far as we’re concerned, Toby Cecchini, author of Cosmopolitan, created the Cosmopolitan Cocktail." You can read it here on the Wayback Machine.

 

2005

Based on the most current Cosmopolitan information, Gary Regan wrote an article in Cheers Magazine crediting Toby as the Cosmopolitan inventor. I am still looking for this article. Regan told me about the article (I think he wrote it for another publication).

However, I found this 2007 Cheers Magazine article from the staff. Later in the year, on September 25, Regan finally received an email from the longtime researched and rumored inventor of the Cosmopolitan, Cheryl Cook.

My thoughts:

I understand the power of having Gary Regan write about you. In 2006, he gave a review of my 5th book, "Miss Charming's Guide for Hip Bartenders and Wayout Wannabe's", in Nations Restaurant News Magazine, and it resulted in a full email inbox and voicemails from CEOs offering me consultant jobs. 

Cheryl Cook also learned the power of Regan' writing (the hard way) when she made up a date from the top of her head about when she thought she invented her Miami Beach Cosmo. She said 1985. She did not know Regan because she had been out of the business for many years. Cocktail people debunked her story because Absolut Citron vodka was not introduced until late 1988 / early 1989. I helped her remember the exact month and year. You can read that story later down the page.

 

2007

The staff of Cheers Magazine credits Toby as the inventor of the Cosmopolitan. Here is the article.

2008

In an interview, Toby says, “I didn’t invent the cosmopolitan.” Then goes on to say, "There was a drink called the Cosmopolitan before; I basically made the drink that is now known as the Cosmopolitan." You can read it here.

My thoughts:

1. In His 2003 book, Toby says he and a girl named Melissa made it together. 

 

2010

Cheers Magazine puts out a press release of Neal Murray's story. It's called "The True Original Cosmopolitan Cocktail Story." Toby is mentioned at the bottom.

2011

Robert Plotkin interviews Toby and writes, "Cecchini created the now internationally famous Cosmopolitan."

My thoughts:

1. In His 2003 book, Toby says he and a girl named Melissa made it together. 

 

2011

Absolut Vodka sent Jake Burger to interview Cheryl Cook, Gaz Regan, Dale DeGroff, and Toby Cecchini for a travelogue-style film about his journey to discover the story behind the Cosmopolitan for the Absolut Academy in Sweden. Burger was able to speak to everyone except DeGroff but interviewed him months later. Sadly, the film never saw the light of day.

 

2012

Gary Regan blogs his current updated Cosmopolitan research titled "The Birth of the Cosmopolitan" based on his newfound information of finally connecting with Cheryl Cook, the Miami Beach Cosmopolitan cocktail creator. The link is defunct because Regan passed away in 2019, but I found it for you on the Wayback Machine here. (You'll notice that my linked name is added to the top of this page. Regan added that link in 2018. It is linked to the page you are reading right now.)

2016

In this article, Robert Simonson says, "I did thorough research into the cosmopolitan because I felt it was an important drink...I interviewed all the people who said they invented it, and I took a stand: I said that a man named Toby Cecchini invented the cosmopolitan in 1988 at The Odeon in New York."

My thoughts:

1. I would like to talk with Simonson because I asked three people who claimed the Cosmo, who said Simonson never contacted them. I emailed Simonson in May of 2019. He has never responded.

 

2016

The writer of this article titled "How I created the Cosmo-and why I wish I hadn't" quotes author Robert Simonson's book, A Proper Drink: The Untold Story of How a Band of Bartenders Saved

the Civilized Drinking World. It reads, "Cecchini says he came up with the drink with help from a friend visiting from San Francisco."

My thoughts:

1. The friend was not visiting from San Francisco; she was Melissa,

Toby's co-worker at The Odeon. In Toby's 2003 book, he says a girl named Melissa told him about the drink from her San Francisco friend.

2. Toby told me in a phone conversation in January 2017 that a friend of Melissa's was in a band visiting NYC. The little details of his story seem to change with each interview.

 

2016

Robert Simonson writes this article titled "How the Inventor of the Cosmopolitan Learned to Embrace His Most Famous Creation." The article quotes Simonson's book A Proper Drink: The Untold Story of How a Band of Bartenders Saved the Civilized Drinking World. Some quotes include, "It’s amusing, then, that the drink’s most convincing claim of ownership belongs to a contrarian who for many years refused credit. Toby Cecchini is a querulous sceptic who likes to downplay his profession any chance he gets...Cecchini still stands by the story of the drink’s birth that he laid down in Cosmopolitan. A fellow bartender at Odeon had friends from San Francisco who introduced her to a Bay Area drink called the Cosmopolitan. She told Toby about the cocktail.

My thoughts:

1. In Toby's 2003 book, he says a co-worker/bartender named Melissa first told him about the Cosmopolitan, and together, they made it better. 

2. It's possible that someone would "downplay" something because that something is not valid.

3. One reason someone would refuse credit is that it's true they don't

deserve the credit.

 

2016

In this article, Toby is credited by the writer as the inventor of the Cosmopolitan. Toby talks about how the Cosmopolitan has been such a burden to him, and since others were coming forward claiming it, he decided to lay claim to the Cosmopolitan.

My thoughts:

1. In 2003, Toby said, "he and a girl named Melissa reinvented it," then in 2008, Toby said, "I didn't make it", and then in 2016,

Toby  says, "I made it."

2. By "others," I assume Toby  means Neal Murray, Cheryl Cook, and Dale DeGroff. You can read their stories on this page.

 

2016

CNN put out a YouTube video interview featuring Toby. Ultimately, Toby takes credit for creating the Cosmopolitan by saying, "It's my cocktail; I made it, yes."

 

2017

The first sentence of this interview reads, "When Toby Cecchini invented the Cosmopolitan back in 1988." Toby talks about how he took the grenadine-lime 1980s San Francisco Cosmopolitan and made it better. It also says that he learned it from a waitress.

My thoughts:

1. Toby is The only person I found so far who mentions grenadine.

2. Melissa was hired as a bartender, not a waitress.

3. Toby was promoted from waiter to bartender at The Odeon in the fall of 1989.

 

2017

In this Norwegian article with the title "Toby Cecchini invented Cosmopolitan: - I made the fucking drink everyone had to make,” Cecchini says, "I'm the one who made the fucking drink everyone had to make" and "I was 25. I just made a stupid drink."

 

2018

In June, Amy Zavotto wrote, "Cecchini is the unequivocal inventor of the Cosmopolitan as we know it today" in this article for Liquor.com. I am mentioned in one paragraph. She Facebook Messaged me in May, asking for some of my unpublished research on the Cosmo. To be nice, I sent her all my current research and did not hear back. After Facebook Messaging her, she nicely said she's been busy, and I never heard from her again. I then noticed that Toby had unfriended me on Facebook.  Zavotto is from New York and has lived in Brooklyn, so she is probably friends with Toby.   

My thoughts:

1. No credit is given to Melissa.

 

2018

Gary Regan updates his Cosmopolitan research titled "The Birth of the Cosmopolitan" by adding my linked name to the NEWS FLASH of his blog. That link was to the page you are reading right now. The blog link in the first sentence of this paragraph is defunct because Regan passed away in 2019, but I found it for you to view on the Wayback Machine here.

Regan was fascinated with my research, and we talked often via Facebook Messenger.

Every little tidbit I shared with him made his day up until the week of his death in 2019. 

2019

In this article, author Robert Simonson writes, "...Toby Cecchini who, for better or worse, invented the Cosmopolitan."

My thoughts: 

1. I can only guess that Simonson is a good friend of Toby's since he lives in Brooklyn (where Toby lives) and is from Wisconsin (where Toby is from). Google shows me that since 2016, Simonson has claimed Toby as the inventor of the Cosmopolitan Here, Here, Here, Here, HereHere, Here, in a book, podcast, an app, and more. There was

a time when Simonson did not claim Toby as the inventor of the Cosmopolitan, in his 2011 blog.

 

2019

Cointreau invited Toby to Paris for their 170th anniversary. Cointreau credited Toby as "the creator of the famed Cosmopolitan" here and on other sites.  

2019

In this article titled "How to Make the Perfect Cosmopolitan, According to the Guy Who Invented It," Toby says fellow bartender Melissa showed him a popular San Francisco cocktail with grenadine and Rose's Lime in 1988 and decided to make his riff on the cocktail. Toby's 2003 book says he and Melissa re-created it together in 1987. The article's author lives in Brooklyn, where Toby lives, and the interview occurred in his bar.

2019

Another Cosmo mention that does not include Melissa yet gives Toby the title "the man who invented the iconic cocktail." The author is from Brooklyn. And another one.  There are too many articles to list. The links provided so far are a handful of what can be found online.

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In Internetland, the Cecchini-Cosmo snowball has gained speed with no return. Many people worldwide believe Toby is the creator/or re-creator of a Kamikaze with a splash of cranberry juice served in a Martini glass, otherwise known as the Cosmopolitan cocktail. Based on my research and other information I was asked not to share, I'm afraid I have to disagree.  I do not know Toby. I'm sure he's a nice guy, and I'm sorry that he suffered from COVID-19, but unfortunately, his pieces don't fit into the puzzle.  I wish they did, but I can only share my findings.

In conclusion, I won't be sharing Toby's critical and unkind texts about others connected to the Cosmopolitan here; however,  if you're with me in person and interested, I'd happily share them with you and Gary Regan's Facebook messages.

 

Toby worked at The Odeon for four heyday years (1987-Fall 1989 as a server, then Fall 1989-Fall 1991 as a bartender), then went on to manage Soho bar Kin Khao (171 Spring Street) for almost seven years before he became co-owner with Gavin Brown of Passerby in Chelsea (436 West 15th Street) for nearly ten years. In 2013, he opened the Long Island Bar in Brooklyn (110 Atlantic Avenue) with Joel Tompkins. Toby writes for Food and Wine, GQ, the New York Times, and Saveur. The Cosmopolitan recipe he gave me is under the Cosmopolitan Fun Facts section.

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Since Toby sent me zero and/or approved zero images, I'm filling this side space with more people living in NYC whom I found during the late 1980s to early 1990s.

Nicole Willis

I connected with singer Nicole Willis via a Facebook Danceteria page. She took Toby Cecchini's place behind the bar in the Fall of 1991. She worked at Danceteria. Then, she took a waitress position at The Odeon in 1990; she was promoted to bartender in the Fall from 1991-1993. Willis tended bar on the weekends with Melissa Huffsmith, and Paul Bacsik was her boss. She remembers serving the Cosmopolitan, serving more famous people than she can count, and is now taking time to reflect more to share with me. Huffsmith confirmed her employment, but also, here is a Google Book link to New York Magazine showing that Kin Khao opened in December 1991 (where Toby worked after The Odeon). I'm guessing Toby left The Odeon in November 1991 to have time to get the Kin Khao bar ready. So Willis's story matches up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit of Nicole Willis by Charles Rosenberg

BACK STORY

During COVID-19 / 2020, I researched bartenders who worked at Studio 54 to learn more about the 1977 Midori Liqueur Saturday Night Fever American launch party that supposedly happened. This info has been cut and pasted for many years, yet there are zero photos or articles and nothing on the brand's website. I find it hard to believe that a Japanese spirit company had its American launch party at the hottest club in the world, yet there are zero photos. Plus, it involved the Saturday Night Fever cast, who were part of a holiday blockbuster film that had a tremendous effect on popular culture worldwide. Where are the articles, press releases, or even one photo?

 

Anyway, during my search,  I became friends with Scotty Taylor, who worked at Studio 54 twenty months out of the twenty-two it was open. He’s also the only bartender interviewed in the 2018 Studio 54 Netflix documentary. He does not remember this party. 

 

I also asked Scotty if he remembered the first time he heard of the Cosmopolitan cocktail, and he said it was at Danceteria on 21st Street in NYC sometime in the mid-1980s. This information led me to the post by Nicole Willis on the Danceteria Facebook page.

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Screenshot of Robert Simonson's App, Modern Classics. What's interesting is that these are not the portions of the recipe Toby gave me or seen in articles and videos.

​​Dale “King Cocktail” DeGroff

New York, New York

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               NUTSHELL: Dale DeGroff says he first heard of the Cosmopolitan in San Francisco at the Fog City Diner.

He doesn't remember the year.  He says that when he returned to work at the Rainbow Room in NYC, he retooled/improved the cocktail with quality ingredients and changed the garnish to a flamed orange peel.  He doesn't remember the year. Dale says that the associated press at the Rainbow Room Sony Grammy party took a photo of Madonna drinking his Cosmopolitan, then put it out on the wire around the world with the caption, “Madonna drinking the Cosmopolitan at the world-famous Rainbow Room.”  He doesn't remember the year, and no one has been able to locate the Madonna photo.
DOCUMENTATION: Newspaper article. There may be more, but I haven't researched because Dale admits upfront that he didn't invent the Cosmo.  I haven't seen photos of Dale making his Cosmopolitans at the Rainbow Room, but he has told the story many times on video. I didn't try to locate co-workers and others at the time either.  But I believe his Cosmo  (reddish with two ounces of cranberry juice) appears to be one of the writers or prop workers of Sex and the City chose to use.

Dale "KING COCKTAIL" Degroff has often said that he did not invent the Cosmopolitan but popularized a definitive Cosmo recipe that became widely accepted as the standard. He wasn't the first to bump up the Cosmopolitan in NYC with quality ingredients, but he was the most famous. The color of his Cosmopolitan matched the Cosmos seen on the TV show Sex and the City (red, not pink) due to having two ounces of cranberry juice in his recipe. As we all know now, we wouldn't be conversing about Cosmos, and this page you are reading right now would not exist if it weren't for the HBO television show Sex and the City.

      In the 2015 Youtube video to the right,  Dale says he first drank his first Cosmopolitan at the Fog City Diner in San Francisco (date/year not confirmed yet), then came back home to the Rainbow Room and made a retooled/improved version with quality ingredients. Oh, and of course, he garnished it with his signature flamed orange peel that he learned from Beverly Hills bartender Pepe Ruiz, who first did it in 1970 when creating a cocktail called The Flame of Love for Dean Martin. Dale says that he later learned that a bartender named Toby Cecchini was already making an improved version of the Cosmopolitan at The Odeon (Toby tended bar at The Odeon from the Fall of 1989 to 1991). Degroff also says the associated press at the Rainbow Room Sony Grammy party took a photo of Madonna drinking his Cosmopolitan then put it out on the wire around the world with the caption, “Madonna drinking the Cosmopolitan at the world-famous Rainbow Room.”  Dale says that this led to him getting hired by Absolut and Ocean Spray, which boosted his career. Dale says, "Sony took up both floors, and there were three private bars, one each for Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, and Madonna."

In January 2017, Dale emailed me a blurb for my 16th book, The Cocktail Companion. I thanked him, told him I was still working on the Cosmopolitan research, and requested two dates 1. What year did he visit Fog City Diner? 2. What year was the Madonna Cosmo photo Grammy party?

 

Dale replied that he was on his Whiskey, Gamblers, and Flying Horses Tour but would ask some friends if they can remember. I bugged him with fifteen more emails until June 2018. I was running close to my book deadline, so I began researching different angles, focusing on when Madonna was in NYC for the Grammys and was at the Rainbow Room because I knew this would give me "THE" year.

 

I began researching all the years that the Grammy Awards were held in New York City in the 1980s and 1990s. They were 1981, 1988,  1991, 1992, 1994, 1997, and 1998. I emailed this research to Dale in October 2017, and he replied, "It wasn't the first year, but we reopened the Rainbow Room late in 1987 ... '88, '91, and '92 are out since I hadn't come across the drink yet, so that leaves

the years '94, '97 and '98. When, and if Carl can remember, the year he took me to the Fog City Diner, that will pinpoint the time I added the drink to my menu and the year that the Grammy event with Madonna happened... I'll get back to you shortly." I never heard back.

 

Dale said 1981-1992 are out (1998 is out, too, because Sinatra passed away). So that leaves the years 1994 and 1997. But in 1994, Madonna and Dylan were somewhere else, and in 1997, Sinatra had suffered a heart attack and was recovering.

Dale says a guy at The Odeon (Cecchini) was already making the Cosmopolitan with a similar recipe. But Cecchini only tended bar at The Odeon from the Fall of 1989 to the Fall of 1991.

Dale's Cosmopolitan recipe was published in a November 1994 newspaper article; the Grammys were in March.

  If you put a gun to my head, asked me to pick the correct Grammy year,

  I would choose the year 1992. 

  1. It's possible that all three celebs were available to be in NYC (Madonna was there).

  2. It's the year closest when Cecchini left The Odeon (1991). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dale's Cosmopolitan recipes are under the Cosmopolitan Fun Facts section.

 

Can anyone help me find the Madonna Cosmopolitan Rainbow Room Grammy photo that Dale mentioned? 

You don't have to read below. It's my Grammy research to find the year of Dale's 
Madonna photo. 

MADONNA, SINATRA, AND DYLAN

1988

The Grammys were held in NYC on March 2.

I could not find any Grammy photos or videos.

 

Where was Madonna?

She was married to Sean Penn and had short brunette hair. She was starring in David Mamet’s NYC play Speed-the-Plow. Rehearsals started on February 23, and the play opened on May 3, then closed on Dec 31. She had short brunette hair.

 

Where was Sinatra?

I could not find anything.

 

Where was Dylan?

I could not find anything.

 

Other

The Rainbow Room re-opened in December 1987, so it would have been open for the Grammys, but that would not have given Dale enough time to settle in and visit Fog City Diner in San Francisco, etc. So, I believe 1988 can be eliminated.

 

Absolut Citron was in test marketing this year, but the first known newspaper liquor store ad I could find on Newspapers.com was in September.

 

In 2013, Dale told Toronto's The Star over the phone that the Madonna Sony Rainbow Room Grammy Party was in 1988, but they may have misunderstood, or I'm reading it incorrectly.

 

1991

The Grammys were held in NYC on February 20.

 

Where was Madonna?

I could not find any Grammy photos or videos of Madonna. 

Madonna had Marilyn Monroe's platinum blonde hair this year and went with Michael Jackson to the Academy Awards on March 25. On July 8, Madonna began filming A League Of Their Own. She had brunette hair. 

 

Where was Sinatra?

Diamond Jubilee World Frank Sinatra was on his Tour at the Long Beach Arena on this date.

 

Where was Dylan?

Bob Dylan performed at the Grammys.

 

Other

CBS held their Grammy party at the Rainbow Room. There are 27 images on Getty Images.

 

1992

The Grammys were held in NYC on February 25.

 

Where was Madonna?

Madonna won her first Grammy for the best music video for her Blond Ambition Tour Live, (but I could not find any Grammy photos or videos, and she was not on tour. However, she did own an apartment in NYC at this time, and three days before the Grammys, she was in an SNL skit. So, it's possible that Madonna was at the Rainbow Room.

 

Barbra Streisand did a "surprise" walk-on during the SNL skit. I found it on YouTube. You can watch it to the right. Streisand won the Legends Award at the Grammys. Madonna was blonde all year. This is the year her sex book was released.

Where was Sinatra?

Sinatra was on tour. On Feb 16, he performed at the Desert Inn in Las Vegas. On February 29, he performed at Marriot's Desert Spring Resorts in Palm Springs, CA. It's possible he could have flown to NYC in between. It's possible he was at the Rainbow Room. His next date was March 12 at the Sand's Hotel in Atlantic City. Sinatra arrived in NYC on May 25 to perform at Royal Albert Hall.

 

Where was Dylan?

Bob Dylan did not start his world tour until March 18, so maybe he could have been in NYC? It's possible he was at the Rainbow Room.

 

Other

Charlie Sepulveda played at the Rainbow Room Grammy Party. Images here.

New York Times article documented a Polygram party at the Rainbow Room. Maybe Dale mixed up a Polygram party for a Sony party?

 

1994

The Grammys were held in NYC on March 1.

 

Where was Madonna?

Not at the Grammys, apparently. On March 1, Madonna attended the Interview Magazine Party with her boyfriend Tupac Shakur. It was at Barolo Ristorante (398 Broadway). She was a brunette, but by the summer, she was blonde.

 

Where was Sinatra?

He was at the Grammys! Bono gave Frank Sinatra the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys. The book U2: A Diary by Matt McGee documents the Grammy Legend Award presented to Frank Sinatra by Bono at the Grammys, then mentions a “post-show party” at the Rainbow Room.

 

Here are some Getty images of the 1994 Grammys, and here is the recap of the awards show.  Getty Images shows Sony held their party at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, not the Rainbow Room.

 

Where was Dylan?

Not at the Grammys. During this date, Bob Dylan was on his Never Ending Tour in Columbia, MO, at the Jesse Auditorium. So, with Madonna and Dylan being in other places, this eliminates 1994.

 

Other

On November 16, the first known newspaper to publish a Cosmopolitan recipe was The Central New Jersey Home News in New Brunswick, New Jersey. It was Dale's recipe. 

 

1997

The Grammys were held in NYC on February 26.

 

Where was Madonna?

Madonna sang at the Grammys!

Later this year, Madonna won a Golden Globe for Best Actress in Evita in January (Los Angeles), performed at the Academy Awards in March, at the MTV Movie Awards in June, at the MTV Music Awards in NYC in September, and at the MTV Europe Music Awards in November.

Madonna's hair was light golden strawberry blonde during the first part of the year and turned blonder in the latter part.

 

Where was Sinatra?

I found nothing on Sinatra being at the Grammys in NYC. He suffered a heart attack in Los Angeles on January 9, and many articles are saying that he was in and out of hospitals all year and was never seen in public again. He died in May 1998. His last concert was on February 25, 1995, at the Palm Desert Marriott Ballroom in Palm Desert, CA.

 

Where was Dylan?

Bob Dylan was on a five-week tour break so that he could have been in NYC. So far, I have found nothing about Dylan being at the Grammys, but the following year, he won Album of the Year.

 

Other

A post-Polygram Grammy party at the Rainbow Room was mentioned in the June-July issue of Vibe magazine.

 

1998

Sinatra died in May of 1998, so this eliminates this year.

 

An Italian website page was now defunct with a photo of Madonna holding a Cosmopolitan. I found the page again here, but the photo has been removed. In 2020, I found another Italian page with the same photo and more information mentioning Neal Murray, Cheryl Cook, Sex and the City, and the Madonna Rainbow Room photo here. This is NOT the 1990s "Rainbow Room Madonna Photo." The Madonna photo is from a 2007 Academy Award/Oscar Vanity Fair party in Los Angeles at Morton's. You can tell by the same dress and hairstyle.

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A 2006 photo from Jill DeGroff. Dale DeGroff author photo for his second book, The Essential Bartender: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks.

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1994 On Wednesday, November 16, in The Central New Jersey Home News (New Brunswick, New Jersey) the first known recipe for a Cosmopolitan is published in a newspaper. The recipe was contributed by Dale DeGroff. 

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2002 The Craft of the Cocktail: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Master Bartender, with 500 Recipes by Dale DeGroff

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2008 The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks by Dale DeGroff

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2020 The New Craft of the Cocktail: Everything You Need to Know to Think Like a Master Mixologist, with 500 Recipes by Dale DeGroff

Candace Bushnell

New York, New York

 

               NUTSHELL: Candace Bushnell (who wrote the NYC Sex in the City column) says she first remembers drinking Cosmopolitans with Bret Easton Ellis in the late 1980s/early 1990s.  In 1995, she says she introduced Darren Star to the Cosmopolitan, and from there, the cocktail made it onto Darren's TV show, Sex and the City.

 

I was shocked to discover, two days after sending an email on November 7, 2017, that the famous Candace Bushnell answered. Wow!

Bushnell is an American journalist, author, and television producer. Between 1994-1996 Bushnell wrote the Sex in the City column for The New York Observer, which was about her and her friends dating in the city. Instead of using her own name, she created an alter-ego with the same initials as hers—that name was Carrie Bradshaw.

 

While writing the column, she also freelanced at Vogue, and one assignment was to write about Darren Star, who had created Beverly Hills 90210 and Melrose Place with Aaron Spelling. Soon after the two became friends, they hung out with the real-life "Mr Big" Ron Galotti (the publisher of Vogue at the time) and author and screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis.

In 1996, her columns were collected in book form with a title of the same name.

This led to the HBO show created by Darren Star that ran from 1998-2004, which we all know, was the show that rocketed the Cosmopolitan cocktail around the world.

 

I asked Bushnell if she remembered drinking Cosmopolitans and she wrote, “Hi Cheryl Charming—Thanks for writing to me. [sic]Back in the late eighties/early nineties “designer” spirit brands like Absolut were making a big push for the club crowd. Bret Easton Ellis and I were going out every night and one night we started drinking them. We’d always drank vodkas with cranberry juice and the Cosmo, with the fresh lime juice, seemed like a good alternative. Once we had our first Cosmo, we couldn’t stop drinking them. And I pretty much made everyone else drink them too. When Darren and I first met, in 1995, I took him out on the town and introduced him to the Cosmo. I think I may have even posed for photographs with a Cosmo. I suppose it was my signature drink, and because Carrie was my

alter-ego, she naturally had to drink them as well! Hope this helps. Best, Candace.”

I wrote her back of course with a few more questions but never heard back. I was totally satisfied with the one email. There are several YouTube videos of her, and her website is here.

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By Keete 37 [CC BY-SA 4.0  Wikimedia Commons

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             NUTSHELL: Cheryl Cook says she created her Miami Beach (Lemon) 
Cosmopolitan in March of 1989 while tending bar at The Strand in Miami Beach (I helped her pinpoint the exact month and year).  Her boss asked her to create a cocktail using Absolut's newest vodka, Absolut Citron.  She named it a Cosmopolitan because the March 1989 Cosmopolitan magazine had a pink cover, and there was an article about The Strand in the magazine. 

DOCUMENTATION: Emails from one bar owner and a bartender who worked across the street. The rest is her word, but she also has photos and details. Plus, the city of Miami Beach honored her at their 100th birthday celebration. Up to 300 people from the past who drank Cheryl's Cosmo showed up at the celebration.

In 1998—with a new thing called "email," lol —I began to receive emails asking if I was the “Cheryl from Florida who created the Cosmopolitan.” What felt like thousands of emails later, Cheryl Cook and I finally became Facebook friends on July 20, 2015. Over a year later, I began to ask her questions about her Cosmopolitan story.

 

I read Gary Regans’ Cosmopolitan article where Cheryl told him she created the Cosmo in 1985; this seemed odd because I remember tending bar on a Caribbean cruise ship in 1988 when Absolut Citron was introduced. When talking with Regan, Cheryl told me that 1985 was a wild guess because it was so long ago, and she did not remember. I later learned that The Strand opened in 1985, which may have been a prominent date in Cheryl’s memory.

 

While listening to Cheryl’s story through my iPhone AirPods with pen and paper, she mentioned that she named the drink after a Cosmopolitan magazine with a pink cover that the hostess showed everyone who walked in the door.                                           There was an article on The Strand, and the                                   hostess titled “The Maître d’  is a Ms.” Cheryl                             continued with her story, but my head lit up like                          a 1000-watt light bulb. I interrupted, “Wait!                            Cheryl,  do you have the magazine?” She said no. I told Cheryl that all we have to do is
                find that magazine, and we will know the exact month and year that  you made your Cosmopolitan. I started researching and soon learned that the magazine put out one pink cover each year, so I went to eBay and bought five of them from 1987-1992. The winner was the March issue of 1989. After snapping photos of the article pages, I mailed Cheryl the copy as a gift.

 

In 1983, with a theater degree, Cheryl began working as a production manager for a performing arts high school program, which became the New World School of the Arts in Miami. In 1987, Cheryl was hired by a professional theatre company called New World Theatre. She received her Equity card. The Strand (671 Washington Avenue) was home to the New World Theatre Company. Still, there was not much money in the theatre, so with three years of bartending experience under her belt, she took a position behind the bar to pay her bills, but her ultimate goal in life was to keep working in the theater in some shape or form.

 

The Strand opened in December of 1985 and was co-owned and run by Gary Farmer (formally of The Odeon in NYC). The restaurant and bar provided Miami’s first hang that welcomed all sexual orientations and attracted a star-studded clientele. In March of 1989, a couple of things coincided: The Strand was mentioned in a Cosmopolitan magazine, and Cheryl was given a new product to create a cocktail—Absolut Citron. Cheryl says her liquor rep asked her to create a cocktail with the new vodka, so she decided to make the cocktail pink to match the cover of the magazine—in Cheryl’s words—“oh so pretty in pink” (a popular phrase at the time from the 1986 film Pretty in Pink). The ingredients were a Kamikaze with a splash of cranberry juice. She stirred it in a mixing glass (16-ounce pint glass), then strained it into a 4.5-ounce Libbey
conical-shaped
 #8882 cocktail glass because she said flavored Martinis were popular among women and wanted to use that type of glass. She garnished the drink with an old school lemon twist (the short kind often precut vertically around the circumference of a lemon), then offered it as a taste test to friend and co-worker Christine “Crispy” Soloperto. She told Cheryl it was good, then asked what she would name it. They looked at the magazine, giggled, and said, “Cosmopolitan!” I have not been able to connect with Soloperto yet, but Gary Regan had already spoken to her, so that is fine with me. Soloperto is busy as a royal celebrity in South Beach.

 

Soloperto was the first to taste the Cosmopolitan, and Bob Dean was the second. Dean worked as a bartender one block away at the Lasso Cocktail Bar. More on Dean later. Cheryl said that within hours, everyone in the room was drinking them. When the Absolut Citron ran out, she remembers having to quickly make impromptu lemon vodka by squeezing lemons into Absolut vodka bottles. She made thousands of Cosmopolitans, and soon, they became popular in other bars on the strip. Chery says, "Eight mixing glasses had to be lined up and ready for orders of Cosmopolitans at all times."

 

Cheryl served many celebrities and had many stories. She vividly remembers serving Madonna and Sandra Bernhard many times. When the Cosmopolitan went what today we would call “viral” from Sex and the City, Cheryl just assumed that the show’s costume designers, Patricia Field, and Rebecca Weinburg, were responsible for introducing the cocktail to the writers because Field and Weinburg were regulars of hers.

 

Cheryl worked at The Strand until it closed, then went down the street to tend bar for Borocco Restaurant, serving even more Cosmopolitans. She became known as “The Martini Queen of South Beach.” Sometime during the early 1990s, Italian Vogue took photos of her Cosmopolitan, so somewhere out there is a photo of Cheryl’s Cosmopolitan in an Italian Vogue magazine.

 

In 2011, Jake Burger from Absolut Vodka was scheduled for a Cosmopolitan video interview with Dale DeGroff. Still, he had to cancel, so Burger contacted Cheryl to schedule an interview in Miami. Cheryl had just lost her mother, so the day was dark and gloomy for her, and she honestly does not remember much about the interview. She never heard anything about the video afterward.

 

On November 30, 2012, Gary Regan posted an article on his website titled “The Birth of the Cosmopolitan.” Regan had been searching for Cheryl since the mid-1990s and finally received an email from Cheryl on September 25, 2005, at 11:24 Eastern Standard Time.

 

Local Miami Beach historian Jeff Donnelly wrote a proposal to the city for its 100th birthday (celebrated in March of 2015) to honor Cheryl Cook for creating the Cosmopolitan. Cheryl’s Cosmo celebration was to be held at City Hall, but then they learned that the crowd would be between 250-300 attendees, so they moved it to The Delano Hotel (1685 Collins Ave). Cheryl was presented with a proclamation both at the hotel and City Hall. She was amazed to see over 200 "old crowd" people from back in the day—faces she had not seen in over 25 years! 

 

Cheryl has produced twenty-seven shows in Atlantic City, was an event planner, and was a semifinalist for Event Solutions Magazine's 2006 “Creative Director of the Year." Most currently, Cheryl taught for Diageo’s “Learning for Life” program at Florida International University. Her students assisted in the 2016 World Class Cocktail Competition in Miami. My favorite thing throughout my communication with Cook was all the retro photos she shared of her Cosmo and more. 

 

The Cosmopolitan recipe she gave me is under the Cosmopolitan Fun Facts section.

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The Cosmopolitan in Miami Beach, Florida

Cheryl Cook
Miami Beach, Florida

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Cheryl Cook in the early 1980s. Photo by Cheryl Cook.

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The Strand. Photo by Cheryl Cook.

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Cheryl Cook working at The Strand. Photo by Cheryl Cook.

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Cheryl Cook 1990s Cosmopolitans. Photo by Cheryl Cook.

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2015 Cheryl Cook being honored at Miami Beach's 100-year birthday celebration for creating the Cosmopolitan. Photo by Cheryl Cook.

2022 Me, Cheryl Cook, and Julio Cabrera at his Miami restaurant and bar Cafe La Trova for its 5th anniversary.

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Gary Farmer
Miami Beach, Florida

 

              NUTSHELL: Gary Farmer says he first knew of the Cosmopolitan after he asked his employer, Cheryl Cook, to create a feature cocktail with Absolut Citron for a party in the bar.  The cocktail that she created was called the Cosmopolitan, and he approved it. 

 

Thursday, January 18, 2018, at 1:20 PM was a happy day for me; it ended my fourteen-month search for Gary Farmer. “Hello Miss Charming, Odd we haven't met. I visit New Orleans often and can usually be found drinking somewhere. Susan Brustman forwarded your email. I am happy to answer your questions via email, but please do not share my address. I have a vivid recollection of the day and circumstances that led Cheryl Cook to invent and name the Cosmo at my restaurant The Strand, and would be happy to share with you. Kind regards, Gary. Sent from my iPad.”

 

Susan Brustman was one of many people I contacted on my search to find Farmer, but it only takes one! She first heard about him in 1978. This is documented in the 2015 book by Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer It Happened in Miami, the Magic City: An Oral History. I also found more information about Farmer and The Strand in Steven Gaines 2009 book Fool’s Paradise: Players, Poseurs, and the Culture of Excess in South Beach. Cheryl Cook told me a 1992 article in New York Magazine called “SoHo in the Sun” mentioned The Strand and showed images of South Beach. I found the mentions on pages 18 and 27 in Google Books here. And you can read a December 18, 1987, article from the Sun-Sentinel titled "Strand: A Place for People Watching in South Beach.

 

 

Farmer worked at The Odeon in New York City in the early 1980s. He told me that he took bartending very seriously. He said, “I was a total cocktail geek, collecting books and recipes from the 1920s and 1930s; I even wrote a monthly cocktail column for GQ.  In my previous suit-and-tie career, I had frequented the old classic cocktail bars—the original Monkey Bar, the Polo Bar at the Westbury, the Oak Bar, the Carlyle...sophistication and class. A long time ago."

I checked on the GQ column and found one from 1984, the same year he left The Odeon to manage Indochine.

 

Through the books I mentioned, I learned that Farmer was tired of the rat race of New York City and wanted to return to California, but Brustman talked him into coming to South Beach to help spark the turnaround of South Beach. And that he did. After finding the perfect location, Farmer went through six layers of linoleum and two of carpet to find the original terrazzo floor. Yes, the flower arrangements were exotic, and tables were blanketed in thick white linen, but the lighting was indirect and flattering, so everyone looked good. Mirrors were strategically placed so you could people watch around corners because Farmer believes the most important product is people. He wanted a diverse clientele, such as people in tuxedos sitting next to people in bathing suits. He did not want a cookie-cutter type of staff, so he hired artists, actors, athletes, and a mix of interesting people.

 

Farmer and Cheryl’s Cosmopolitan stories are excellent front-of-the-house/back-of-the-house perspectives. Farmer told me that Absolut was the fashionable vodka of the time, and its citron flavor had just been introduced. His salesman dropped off a free case on the very day they were hosting a group of female alumni (from Brown University, he thinks) with complimentary hors-d'oeuvres and a cash bar. Farmer said that Cook had come in early to set up, and he told her to develop a “feature cocktail’ using the Absolut Citron. He said, “Cheryl was a very serious gal and gave it serious thought.” He described Cheryl’s process; The Strand had popularized classic martini glasses, so it had to be that glass, and the color must be pink because women like pink drinks. Cook fiddled around with the recipe until she was satisfied, and then he approved.

 

Cheryl suggested the name Cosmopolitan because the hostess had been featured in a Cosmopolitan magazine story called “When the maitre d’ is a Ms” (he thinks, but close enough) with a full-page photo of the hostess, *Natalie Thomas, opposite the title page. Thomas was very proud of the article and kept a copy open to her picture on the front desk. Cook thought naming the cocktail after the magazine would be a smart marketing choice. Farmer thought for sure there had to be a Cosmopolitan cocktail already in existence, but there was not one listed in either of the two cocktail books they kept behind the bar, so he gave Cook the green light. The alumni ladies, of course, loved it, and when the restaurant customers (mostly regulars) saw all those pink Martinis, they just had to have one too. Farmer said, “And that’s how the Cosmopolitan cocktail was born. We never made a big deal about it, but they sold like crazy.” Farmer ended his Cosmo story by saying, “Cheryl Cook’s local celebrity actually came a few years later, when I sold The Strand, and she became Miami’s most famous martini maker at a cool bar called 821 on Lincoln Road.  Her Martini nights were PACKED.”

 

*While researching Farmer, I found this article on a WordPress

blog (poliscijunkee.com/tag/natalie-Thomas) about his hostess,

Natalie Thomas, claiming to be the inventor of the Miami Beach

Cosmopolitan. Supposedly, she hosted Cosmopolitan parties,

conned people into believing she was the creator, and then

received free stuff in return. The blog has been deleted since I posted it here in 2018. 

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Gary Farmer in Miami Beach late 1980s. Photo by Cheryl Cook.

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Photo of 1984 GQ Magazine showing Gary Farmer's Wine and Spirits Department.

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Gary Farmer and Cheryl Cook at Miami Beach' 100th birthday celebration in 2015. Photo by Cheryl Cook.

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Bob Dean
Miami Beach, Florida

 

            NUTSHELL: Bob Dean first heard of the Cosmopolitan the same day Cheryl Cook created her Cosmopolitan.  He was tending bar across the street from The Strand at the Lasso Lounge in Miami Beach.

I learned of Bob Dean through Cheryl Cook. Dean’s Cosmo connection is being the second person to taste Cheryl’s Cosmopolitan. I was able to speak with him briefly in November of 2017. He was a hoot!

 

Dean remembered that day in March 1989 like it was yesterday. He said that he worked at the Lasso Lounge across the street from The Strand and Crispy Soloperto walked in at 5 PM and said, “Bob! Cheryl just invented a great cocktail called the Cosmopolitan.” She told him the ingredients, he made two (I’m guessing they clicked glasses), and they drank them.

 

Nashville, Tennessee, is Dean’s hometown. When he worked in South Beach, he was commuting from Dania Beach to Fort Lauderdale. He said the Lasso Lounge was supposed to be haunted and was also considered the best local bar in South Beach at the time.

 

Currently, Dean is living in Santa Monica, California, and still tends bar! He is also a comic, actor and has his own podcast show on iTunes called The Bob Dean Show. On August 6, 2017, he taped episode 25 “Machine Guns Bad, Cruise Ships and Cosmopolitans”, where he calls up his old friend in Miami, Cheryl Cook.

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Bob Dean in Miami Beach late 1980s. Photo by Cheryl Cook.

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Bob Dean in 2016. Public photo from Bob Dean's Facebook page.

Fun Cosmo Media Facts

FIRST COSMOPOLITANS IN NEWSPAPERS

1987

Jason Kruse with the Black Liver Project shared the first known Cosmopolitan mention in an October 23rd San Francisco Chronicle article.

1994

On November 16, The Central New Jersey Home News was the first known newspaper to publish a Cosmopolitan recipe (New Brunswick, New Jersey). Dale “King Cocktail” DeGroff contributed his recipe.

 

THE COSMOPOLITAN IN BOOKS

1993

April 23, The Complete Book of Mixed Drinks by Anthony Dias Blue.

This is the first known book to mention the Cosmopolitan.  The author mentions the Cosmopolitan at Julie's Supper Club in San Francisco.

November 1, Complete World Bartender Guide by Bob Sennett.

Thank you, Marcovaldo Dionysos! This book has a recipe and a color photo of a Cosmopolitan next to an Odeon matchbook.
1994

October 1, The New York Bartender’s Guide by Sally Ann Berk.

1995

April 1, The Martini: An Illustrated History of an American Classic by Barnaby Conrad III

1998

May 1, The Drinks Bible for the 21st Century by Paul Harrington and Laura Moorhead

Paul Harrington and Laura Moorhead write, "No one seems to have bothered noting who mixed the first Cosmo. The moniker Cheryl Cook will occasionally surface, but it leads only to San Francisco, never to an actual person.

“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.”

2002

October 16, Straight Up or On the Rocks by William Grimes
William Grimes writes, "The cosmopolitan first surfaced in the late 1980s, and unlike other fad cocktails, it has not only survived but prospered. it may well be the most universally ordered mixed drink in America.

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."

October 15, Craft of the Cocktail: Everything You Need to Know to Be a Master Bartender, with 500 Recipes by Dale Degroff

Dale DeGroff writes that he "Popularized a recipe that became widely accepted as the standard. I put it on my menu at the Rainbow Room in 1996.  Shortly after that, Madonna was spotted drinking one, and overnight I was getting calls from as far away as Germany and Australia for the recipe."

2003

October, Cosmopolitan: A Bartender’s Life by Toby Cecchini

Toby Cecchini writes that he learned of the Cosmopolitan in 1987 from his co-worker Melissa and that they made it much better with new ingredients.
"We found it was surprisingly good, like a high-end, girlish Kamikaze."

2008

October 28, The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks by Dale Degroff 

Dale Degroff writes, "The Cosmo’s roots are in the Ocean Spray company’s 1960s marketing campaign for cranberry juice. This is exactly what was done in the 1980s by Cheryl Cook, a bartender in South Beach, Florida, during the test-marketing of a then unknown product called Absolut Citron."

2009

March 25, Bixology by Doug “Bix” Biederbeck

San Francisco restaurateur, Doug “Bix” Biederbeck writes "BIX was the first West Coast restaurant to respark the current Martini boom. It’s a little hard to imagine that, only twenty years ago, the white-wine spritzer, gin and tonic, and occasional sweet drink were the calls of choice. The Cosmopolitan had only recently been invented, and there were about six vodkas known to man."

2018
August 28, The Joy of Mixology, Revised and Updated Edition: The Consummate Guide to the Bartender's Craft by Gary Regan

Gary Regan writes, "Boy, oh boy, has this drink caused some upsets. When the first edition of this book came out in 2003, no one was quite sure where the recipe came from, but much has transpired since then."

November 30, The Cocktail Companion: A Guide to Cocktail History, Culture, Trivia and Favorite Drinks by Cheryl Charming

Cheryl Charming writes that she kept a Cosmopolitan history file since 2006 but then started aggressively researching the cocktail's origin for this book.
"The nutshell version of my research is that two bartenders, at two different times, fourteen years apart, in two different cities, created a cocktail with almost identical ingredients and named it the same name —Cosmopolitan. These bartenders are Neal Murray and Cheryl Cook."

2020

September 22, The New Craft of the Cocktail: Everything You Need to Know to Think Like a Mixologist, with 500 Recipes by Dale DeGroff

Dale Degroff writes, "The Cosmopolitan goes back to the test-marketing of Absolut Citron vodka. The Cosmo got young women cocktailing again; many were devotees of Darren Star’s HBO series Sex and the City, which made the Cosmo the most recognized drink in the world."

2021

November 4, The Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails by David Wondrich

David Wondrich writes, "The Cosmopolitan is the only cocktail of the twentieth century to have attained the status of a household name. Like most famous cocktails, it has a confused and contested history, with American bartenders from coast to coast laying claim to either the invention or popularization of the drink."

2022

February 15, The Bartender's Ultimate Guide to Cocktails: A Guide to Cocktail History, Culture, Trivia and Favorite Drinks by Cheryl Charming

Cheryl Charming writes that she located co-workers, servers, managers, friends, and owners from thirty to forty years ago who worked with all who claimed the Cosmopolitan cocktail. "Two New York City bartenders claim to be the first to have upgraded the Cosmopolitan recipe using quality ingredients; however, only one has been credited. Their names are Melissa Huffsmith and Toby Cecchini.  And there is Dale “King Cocktail” DeGroff, who independently upgraded the Cosmopolitan."

FIRST COSMOPOLITANS IN TELEVISION

1998

On April 9, the first known Cosmopolitan cocktail seen and mentioned on a television show was ER. It was S4 E17, and the writer was Linda Gase.
 

July 19, HBO's Sex and the City. The Cosmopolitan is seen in the first episode and first mentioned in episode 7.

2003 

Girlfriends: Blood is Thicker Than Liquor S3 E22. Cosmo (04:03) & (14:48) 

FIRST COSMOPOLITANS IN FILM

2000

On July 17, The In Crowd was the first known film to show and mention a Cosmopolitan.

The next known films are:
2001 Kate & Leopold
2002  Juwanna Mann

2005 Guess Who

2005 In Her Shoes

2006 Phat Girlz

FIRST COSMOPOLITANS IN SONG

2001 To be fair, there is a 2001 rap song that mentioned Cosmos, but I'm disqualifying it due to its lewd lyrics.

2002

On August 13, the first known song to mention a Cosmopolitan is

“Satellite” written and performed by Kay Hanley 

"Red cosmos pink, They all toasted you blind, I needed another drink."

.The next known songs to mention a Cosmopolitan include:

2004 “Cosmopolitans” written and performed by Erin McKeown

Cosmopolitans and ladies, Looking for pills in draperies. 

2004 "The Girl's Gone Wild" written by  Bob Dipiero, Rivers Rutherford, performed by Travis Tritt

“Passin' around the Cosmo, wearin' out the cell phone.”

2004 “Virgo,” written by Christopher Brian Bridges, Douglas L Davis, Nasir Jones, Salaam Remi, performed by Ludacris
“Bartender put a Cosmo in that girl hand.”

2005 “Red Dress,” written by  Graham Walker and performed by Babyface

“Stop for some cocktails, Let's set the mood, Have a Martini Cosmo or two.”

2008 "I Did it All" written and performed by Tracy Chapman

A Cosmopolitan, a Manhattan, Call me one, Pour a round for me and my friends.

2007 “Love Me, Hate The Game,” written and performed by M-flo
“Cosmo cocktails, topless models.”

2008 “Danny Callahan,” written and performed by Conor Oberst

“Some wander the wilderness, Some drink cosmopolitans.”

2009 “Grown Thangs,” written by Kenneth B Edmonds, Luther Vandross, performed by Luther Vandross

“Grab two more Cosmos, we ain't thinkin' about tomorrow.”

2009 “I Hate California,” written by Brett James, Matthew L Shafer, performed by Uncle Kracker
“Drinkin' pink Cosmos at the Sky Bar.”

2013 “Hollywood,” written by Oliver Jao Smith, performed by Maggie Rose
“Cosmos - everybody nurses, They get as trashed as we do.”

2015 “Drink On It,” written by Jessi Leigh Alexander, Jon Randall Stewart, Rodney Clawson, performed by Blake Shelton
“I could use another whiskey, And your Cosmo's gettin' low.”

2016 “Cheaper To Drink Alone,” written by Brandon Kinney, Jon Lawhon, Chris Robertson, Ben Wells, John Fred Young, performed by Black Stone Cherry
“High heels and high dollar Cosmos.”

You can find many more Cosmopolitan cocktails seen and/or mentioned in my Facebook Group, “Cocktails in Media.” Just use the group search bar. Cheers!

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I have documented each time a Cosmopolitan was seen and mentioned in Sex and the City. I made a video of all of them, but unfortunately, it's too large to upload, but you can view it here. Notice how they are more reddish, less pinkish. This may because the writers copied Dale"King Cocktail"DeGroff's revamp of the Cosmo in the 1990s.

 

Out of six seasons and 94 episodes, the Cosmopolitan was seen 27 times and mentioned by name six.

The very first episode shows Carrie and Samantha drinking Cosmopolitans at Miranda’s birthday dinner; however, the average viewer would not have known the cocktails were called Cosmopolitans. That all changed on Sunday night, July 19, 1998, because the word "Cosmopolitan" was finally written into the transcript by Darren Star in episode seven "The Monogamists." The voice-over of the character Carrie Bradshaw read, "That afternoon I dragged my poor, tortured soul out to lunch with Stanford Blach and attempted to stun it senseless with Cosmopolitans." This is the only mention of the Cosmo in season one.

 

Season Two is the season that (probably) exploded the Cosmopolitan worldwide because it is mentioned by name in five scenes. In seasons 3-6, it is only seen, not mentioned.

YOU SHOULD KNOW

Sometime in the mid-2000s, I purposely wrote on my website that the first time a Cosmo was mentioned  on SATC was in an episode called "The Chicken Dance." I did this to see how often this "false" information was copied and pasted into articles. It has happened too many times to mention. Thank you, Google Alerts! Here are a couple of recent ones, including one from PUNCH magazine writer Priya Krishna here and one from Robbreort.com writer Jason O'Bryan here.  Just search for the words "Chicken Dance" in the articles. 

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October 23rd, 1987. San Francisco. 

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November 16, 1994 The Central New Jersey Home News

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1998 First known Cosmo mentioned and seen on TV.  ER. s4 e17. The writer is Linda Gase.