The Inventor Of The Cosmopolitan Has A Problem With Ina Garten's Iconic Version

Outside of James Bond's martini and Don Draper's old fashioned, there is perhaps no other cocktail more recognizable than the cosmopolitan. Famously catapulted into the cultural zeitgeist by "Sex and the City," Carrie Bradshaw's favorite libation became one of the world's most popular cocktails, appearing everywhere from four-star establishments to your local fast-casual chain restaurant. During the early days of the pandemic, chef Ina Garten's video of making herself a massive cosmopolitan while staying home became a viral sensation, accumulating over 3 million views on Instagram.

But while the video and the drink are immensely popular, the inventor of the cosmopolitan has a problem with it. Neal Murray, who claimed to be the creator of the cocktail, commented that Ms. Garten's recipe used in the viral video is missing a crucial ingredient: simple syrup. Without it, the drink would be too tart and its flavor imbalanced. Furthermore, Mr. Murray says the original recipe contains lime juice cordial in addition to fresh lime juice.

The invention of an iconic drink

The origin of the cosmopolitan cocktail has been a widely debated subject. According to Mr. Neal Murray, he created the original cocktail in a restaurant called Cork and Cleaver, located in the suburbs of Minneapolis, in 1975. Although his application to be a bartender was rejected due to the fact he is black, he was hired by the restaurant's bookkeeper while the managers were away. At the time, a popular drink was vodka gimlet, a mixture of vodka and Rose's lime juice cordial. From there, customers asked for the addition of triple-sec, an orange liqueur, creating the kamikaze cocktail. By adding cranberry juice to a kamikaze, Mr. Murray created the cosmopolitan cocktail we all enjoy today. One of the customers replied, "How cosmopolitan," and the rest, as they say, is history.

Aside from Mr. Murray, other individuals have been credited with the invention of the cosmopolitan cocktail. In New York, Toby Cecchini of Long Island Bar is widely credited to create the current version of the cocktail in the '80s. On the west coast during the same decade, John Caine was credited with popularizing the drink in San Francisco, which he claimed was originally invented in gay bars in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Regardless of its point of origin, the cocktail was a popular drink by the '90s, enjoyed by celebrities such as Madonna. 

Making the perfect cosmo

To create the cosmopolitan cocktail the way Neal Murray made it in 1975, you need cranberry juice, vodka, triple-sec or Cointreau, Rose's lime juice cordial, simple syrup, and fresh lime.

To start, fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then add all ingredients including two squeezes of fresh lime juice. Shake till cold and strain the mixture into a cold cocktail glass. The result should be a balance between the sweetness of the triple-sec and simple syrup and the tartness of the lime and cranberry juice. Garnish with a thin lemon or lime peel and consume while ice cold.

Like most cocktails, you can change the flavor of the cosmopolitan by switching up some ingredients. For example, a popular variation is the white cosmopolitan, which replaces regular cranberry juice with white cranberry. Another popular variation is to substitute triple-sec or Cointreau with Grand Marnier, creating a French cosmopolitan. Garten's version skips the cordial and simple syrup, but it also subs pure cranberry juice for a sweetened cranberry cocktail, so there's still some balance. Still, to really honor Murray's original version, stick to his simple but classic recipe.