If you’ve ever watched Sex and the City, one of HBO’s most iconic TV series (and there’s a long list of ’em), you know that the Cosmopolitan is an essential part of the characters’ New York City routine. Refreshing, boozy, and unapologetically feminine, the pink cocktail perfectly encapsulated Carrie Bradshaw’s fun and fashionable vibe. Now, SatC star Sarah Jessica Parker has introduced her own take on the Cosmo: a canned concoction called “The Perfect Cosmo by SJP” that was created in partnership with Thomas Ashbourne Craft Spirits. A Cosmo approved by the woman who put this drink on the pop culture map? I had to give it a try. Scroll through for the full review and fun facts on cosmo and canned cocktail history.
A Short and Sweet History of the Cosmopolitan
Sex and the City made the Cosmo a phenomenon — but the drink didn’t originate with the show. An oral history of the cocktail published on PunchDrink.com explains that the sip has its origins in old school Vodka Gimlets (vodka and lime juice) and Kamikazes (vodka, triple sec, and lime juice). But Toby Cecchini, owner of The Long Island Bar in Brooklyn, is widely credited with inventing the Cosmopolitan as we know it today. Cecchini worked as a bartender at the Odeon (a downtown New York restaurant frequented by celebrities) in the ’80s, when proto-Cosmos that “[were] gross, but looked pretty,” he says, appeared on the cocktail scene. Cecchini set out to make a better version with fresh lime juice, Cointreau (an orange-flavored liqueur), Citron (a lemon-flavored vodka), and cranberry juice. The result was a sweet, sexy, rose-colored drink.
“We were always making drinks for the staff, so I started serving it to the waitresses,” Cecchini told PunchDrink. “They were crazy about it. It became our staff drink, and soon the staff started turning the regulars onto it.” Before he knew it, celebs like Madonna were ordering the Cosmo, and the drink’s popularity spread through lower Manhattan within a year. Then Sex and the City introduced the drink to a wider audience, and the Cosmo became officially inescapable in the late ’90s and early ’00s.
Why are canned cocktails suddenly so popular?
These days, you don’t have to go bar-hopping to find a fancy cocktail: canned cocktails have become ubiquitous, sold everywhere from liquor to grocery stores (depending on your state’s liquor laws). “Canned cocktails really took off due to the pandemic,” notes Tony Sachs, a New York-based journalist who specializes in spirits. “The category was becoming more elevated before the pandemic, but I don’t know if anyone really cared until there were fewer avenues available to get a well-made cocktail.” It also helps that many canned cocktails have cute design and packaging, making them ideal for pics posted on social media.
You can find a canned version of just about any cocktail these days — and while the convenience can’t be beat (you can pop a canned Margarita in your bag for the beach), Sachs isn’t entirely sold on the taste. “Personally, I’ve never tasted one that made me think, ‘Wow, this is as good as something I’d get in a bar!’” he admits. “That said, I think it’s an unfair comparison, really. You have to make certain allowances for a cocktail that was made days or weeks earlier and stuck in a can or bottle.”
For pre-packaged cocktail offerings, Sachs recommends On the Rocks and BTL SVC, two bottled cocktail brands that list their base spirit varieties — which he says is a sign of quality. On the Rocks sells a Cosmopolitan, as well as daiquiris, espresso martinis, and Old Fashioneds, while BTL SVC also has a Cosmo, plus elegant drinks like Negronis, Sidecars, and gin martinis. He also notes that “you can’t adequately substitute for fresh squeezed juice” when it comes to booze in cans — but such is the trade-off for ease.
How does SJP’s canned Cosmo taste?
Sarah Jessica Parker’s Cosmo comes in two varieties: bottled (one bottle is equivalent to five cocktails and costs $16.99) and canned (a four-pack of cans is equivalent to 10 cocktails and costs $19.99). I tried the latter version, and immediately thought the petite pink and white cans would make an ideal hostess gift (or, looking ahead to the holidays, a charming stocking stuffer). The drink features cranberry, strawberry, lime, and vodka, and contains 20 percent alcohol by volume. An additional squeeze of fresh lime would a nice touch, with bonus points if you serve it in a martini glass, as it’s often prepared in bars.
The coloring of the drink was slightly more orange than I was expecting, given that Cosmos are usually bright pink. The pale, orangey hue brought to mind a summer sunset, and the taste was sweet and fruity with a definite punch from the vodka — these cans may be small, but they’re equal to just over two cocktails a piece. While I found the canned cocktail a bit sweeter than my usual preference (bear in mind that Cosmos are sweet by definition), this was fun and easy to drink. Best of all, I was sipping a cocktail created by the Cosmo queen herself, and suddenly I could imagine myself wearing $300 Manolo Blahniks and gossiping with my girlfriends in a dark New York City bar.
So remember, the next time you order a Cosmo — whether it’s canned, bottled, or mixed by a bartender — that you’re sipping a cocktail with a long history of being enjoyed by stylish women (and that includes you.)
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