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Ask A Bartender: What Can The Craft Cocktail Learn From The Cosmo?

Friday, April 03, 2015


Of the many influences to coax the craft cocktail out of the dark ages; the internet and its breeding of instant- and ephemeral -experts on any subject, the enthusiasm for good food and wine, there stands behind them all, once fabulous and sexy, now lonely and misunderstood, the cosmopolitan. 

The cocktail is actually quite good. It is sweet, yet tart, simple, yet (thanks Madonna and "Sex and the City") wrapped in an aura of rapidly diminishing sophistication. And, somewhat ironically given that many craft bartenders now disdain the once-haughty martini, it is in no small way to thank for the revitalization of the craft cocktail. 

As the demographic of cosmopolitan drinkers change, i.e., grow older- the drink seems less symbolic of sexual and financial freedom and more a testament to the harm a few years can do to one’s pursuit of these aforementioned ideals. 

It’s by no means a scientific method, but a bartender can sometimes make a pretty spot-on educated guess as to what a costumer orders before he or she even approaches the bar. It’s fairly easy to spot a cosmopolitan drinker. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. But she is usually between the ages of forty-three and fifty-three, works – or dresses like she works- in a corporate office, and travels with one and often more than one member of the same demographic. I’m not saying that all-or even many- people in this demographic will order a cosmopolitan but only that very few people outside of it will, and if they do they will usually be scoffed at, or blatantly refused the drink (I know of at least one incident of a craft bartender engaging in this extremely pretentious and unprofessional behavior).  

With modified classics becoming the new vague, it’s easy to see that as our tastes change so do our values. If we personify our cocktails, and we do, than the boulevardier and the negroni are the socially inept siblings of the cosmopolitan, hanging out in their rooms, reading Kierkegaard and listening to old jazz records while the cosmopolitan spent the nineties staying out all night partying. The passes of time have favored the patience of the-until recently- esoteric classics and not so much the immediate gratification of the cosmopolitan. 

So, if the cosmopolitan and the craft cocktail were at an otherwise empty bar together and the craft cocktail deigned to strike a conversation with the cosmopolitan out of boredom, curiosity or both, the ensuing conversation would go something like this:   

Cosmo: You think you look good now? Don’t get too cocky. Keep up your lifestyle for ten years and then see what you look like. You’ll still be in the same place. Everything else will move around you, and for you the only measure of time is the decay it has shown on your body. The long nights will become evident in the lines on your face. You will slowly morph into an ineffectual pariah with smoker’s cough. The people who used to respect you will move on, but you won’t, you’ll see the same people everyday but their names will change. As you get older, you’ll be the butt of all their jokes. When people ask for you, others will scoff at them. So people will no longer ask for you. People will no longer read about you in fashion magazines. You will slip into obscurity. 

Craft cocktail: How do I avoid this? 

Cosmopolitan: You can never escape time and it’s decay. What you can do is stay true to yourself. People will use you for what they think you are, that’s inevitable and that’s okay. Don’t be who they think you are. Don’t confuse yourself with their perception of you. Take care of yourself. Introduce roughage into your diet. Exercise. Read a book. Write a book if you feel compelled to. Let your significant other know that you love them every single day. Just be what you are.

Craft cocktail: That’s heavy.

Cosmopolitan: Do you have an extra dollar?

Craft cocktail: No. Anything else?

Cosmopolitan: Don’t forget why you exist.

Craft cocktail: Why do I exist?

Cosmopolitan: To enjoy.

By the way, it’s spring. It’s a good time to catch up on your older sister. She’s been through a lot lately.

1.5 oz. Absolut citron
1 oz. cranberry juice
.25 oz. fresh lime juice
.75 oz. tripe sec
Shake with ice. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with orange peel. 


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