My bartender R said to me one night, "The cosmo is an underrated drink." In that moment I realized I had never actually tasted one. My mind, of course, went to Carrie Bradshaw and Sex and the City, but after some research (and fieldwork) at various bars across town, I learned that when made well—and most importantly, with a frugal pour of cranberry juice—the cosmopolitan cocktail can be quite a refreshing drink. People see pink and just assume that it must be overly sweet, but that's not the case; cranberries are tart, as are limes.
The proportions below are what I believe to be the best cosmopolitan recipe, resulting in the most gorgeous cloudy pink color—though, asking various bartenders these past few weeks how they like to make their cosmos (again, research), I learned that it's really just a matter of taste. R, for instance, mixes up an even drier cosmopolitan with 1/2 ounce cranberry. His colleague P does less vodka and lime. I've had one at Beauty Bar—where I love to get the $10 martini and manicure deal, and where they apparently filmed an episode or two of Sex and the City back in the day, appropriately—that tasted significantly boozier and less acidic than any of these.
All are delicious, so start with this one and tweak the amounts according to your own personal preferences. As with a martini, the best cosmopolitan is the one you like. —Eric Kim
Fill a cocktail shaker with lots and lots of ice. Add the vodka, cranberry juice cocktail, triple sec, and lime juice, cover, and shake vigorously for 10 seconds, then pour into a martini glass. The drink should be a cloudy pink color. Garnish with the lime wheel.
Eric Kim is a senior editor at Food52, where his solo dining column, Table for One, runs Friday mornings. Formerly the managing editor at Food Network and a PhD candidate in literature at Columbia University, he writes about food, travel, and culture and lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can follow him on Twitter @ericjoonho.