Monday, December 4, 2017

Cocktails with Erin - The Cosmopolitan

Cocktails with Erin - the cosmopolitan
Erin circa 2010 sipping on champs

Cocktails with Erin: The Cosmpolitan by Erin Lancione

It’s cocktail time again! In case you missed it, last month I wrote about the Salty Dog and why every adult should know the recipes for a few good cocktails by heart.

I was going to devote the second installment of Cocktails with Erin to the Sidecar, but my friend Elizabeth convinced me otherwise. She said that my first post brought her back to the days of gin club and immediately I knew the perfect drink to profile: the cosmopolitan.

Yes, really.

When’s the last time you had a cosmo? The name probably conjures of images of Sex and the City and sense memories of syrupy sweet dreck made with mixer from a plastic bottle. Hardly appealing, but stay with me here.

The cosmopolitan is a modified version of a sour, a category of drinks that also includes margaritas, whisky sours, sidecars, daiquiris, and caipirinhas. Sours follow the template of liquor + citrus juice + sweetener (either sugar, simple syrup, or a liqueur). The cosmo takes this format and brightens it up with the addition of cranberry juice. Made fresh, the cosmo contains three parts vodka, one part cranberry juice, one part triple sec, and 1/2 part lime juice.

The origins of the drink are somewhat unclear, but it’s safe to say that the cosmo has been around for at least thirty years. In its early days, the cosmo was viewed as a prestige drink, the sort of thing people ordered to seem in the know and sophisticated. But, as with most trends, the drink hit its inevitable zenith and by the early aughts it was regarded as clichéd, shorthand for girly excess and middlebrow taste.

And that, my friends, is a terrible shame. Because a well-executed cosmo — one prepared with fresh ingredients — is actually quite delightful. Pretty to look at, perfectly sweet-tart, and surprisingly potent.

Cocktails with Erin - the cosmopolitan

Potent enough to make a roomful of grown ladies giggle like teenagers, leading a certain husband to shush them because of the very real risk that they would wake the kids. Which brings me to gin club.

For nearly four years, I lived in Qatar with my husband and our children. While there, I developed friendships with ladies from all over the world, many of whom lived in my apartment building. I cannot overstate how lucky I felt to have a community of friends right at my doorstep. In many regards, it was kind of like college all over again — except instead of bumping into each other in the dining hall or hanging out until the wee hours in each other’s dorm rooms, we had Teeny Tunes music class in the multipurpose room and mid-morning play dates by the pool.

From time to time we would take turns hosting dinner and drinks at one of our apartments. It was a chance to relax and enjoy each other’s company without our kids around. We affectionately dubbed these gatherings “gin club” and the name stuck. On one of the occasions that it was my turn to host, I made cosmos. Suffice to say that we all got a little silly that night.

If you’re lucky, you pick up a few forever friends at each stage of your life*; I’m thankful to have found a whole group of them in Doha. (And not just my gin club lovelies — I’m thinking of all you ladies who either didn’t live in our tower or who had already moved on to new adventures by that point!)
For me, the cosmo doesn’t bring to mind Carrie Bradshaw or the Rainbow Room. Instead, it reminds me of good friends, fun times, and finding family in unexpected places. And I will happily toast to that.

Cocktails with Erin - the cosmopolitan

Makes one serving

Combine one shot (1.5 ounces) of vodka**, one tablespoon (0.5 ounces) triple sec, one tablespoon (0.5 ounces) of cranberry juice, and 1.5 teaspoons (0.25 ounces) of lime juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake to blend, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of citrus peel.

*Another stellar insight from Trista.
**Some versions of the recipe specify citrus vodka; use whatever floats your boat.

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