I tried 3 cosmopolitan recipes from celebrity chefs, and the best is Carrie Bradshaw-worthy

Summary List PlacementNow that I've been spending more time at home, I've enjoyed trying to make classic bar drinks myself. I tend to gravitate toward margaritas, New York sours, and Moscow mules, but I've yet to try my hand at the cosmopolitan — even after binge-watching "Sex and the City." Vodka,...

cosmo battle

Summary List Placement

Now that I’ve been spending more time at home, I’ve enjoyed trying to make classic bar drinks myself.

I tend to gravitate toward margaritas, New York sours, and Moscow mules, but I’ve yet to try my hand at the cosmopolitan — even after binge-watching “Sex and the City.”

Vodka, orange liqueur, cranberry juice, and lime round out the standard ingredient list for the cocktail, but celebrity chefs have found ways to put their own spin on the cosmo. 

I wanted to test a few variations to find a favorite, so I turned to chefs Ina Garten, Guy Fieri, and Alton Brown for their popular recipes. 

Read on to see how the different cosmos stacked up. 

Garten’s cosmopolitan recipe makes 6 regular servings — or a massive single serving

Ina Garten 1 ingredients

Garten’s cosmo called for all of the expected ingredients, including high-end vodka, orange liqueur, cranberry-juice cocktail, and some fresh lime juice. I opted for a more affordable vodka, and it worked just fine.

The celebrity chef went viral in April after making this “single-serving” recipe in a huge martini glass. But it calls for a whopping 2 cups of vodka, so it actually makes a pitcher (or six regular glasses).

Although I enjoy a boozy Saturday afternoon every once in a while, I cut this recipe to a legitimate single serving with 2 ounces of vodka, 1 ounce each of the orange liqueur and cranberry juice, and 1/8 cup (about 2 tablespoons) of fresh lime juice.

This cocktail was ready in no time

Ina Garten 4 cranberry

I let my martini glass chill in the freezer for a couple of minutes while I mixed the drink because Garten noted in the instructions that this is the ideal way to serve a cosmopolitan.

Ina Garten 6 strain

I poured all the liquids into a cocktail shaker filled halfway with ice and shook it vigorously for 30 seconds. Then I strained it over my chilled glass, neat.

The directions didn’t mention a garnish, so I went without.

The drink was strong but refreshing

Ina Garten 7

Let me start by saying that this might not have been the best recipe to start with. It’s very strong but certainly delicious.

There’s a nice balance of lime and cranberry to take some of the edge off the liquor.

I make a lot of drinks with lime juice from a bottle for convenience, but the fresh-squeezed lime juice in this drink really made a difference by giving the cocktail a vibrant, bold flavor.

My glass has nothing on Garten’s giant version, but this was plenty for me. It was a refreshing drink that went perfectly with a pleasant winter weekend in Los Angeles.

Fieri adds a surprising ingredient to his cosmopolitans

Guy Fieri 1 ingredients

Fieri, always known to add his own unique flair to recipes, has a cosmopolitan recipe that calls for the usual ingredients (vodka, orange liqueur, cranberry juice, and a lime garnish) plus a little sake.

I bought a sake that says it has a lightly earthy, herbaceous flavor with a hint of grapefruit.

This was another incredibly easy recipe to follow

Guy Fieri 3 cranberry

The recipe was incredibly straightforward.

As my glass chilled, I combined everything in a shaker filled with ice, then shook it for about 20 seconds. 

The sake ended up being the primary flavor of the drink

Guy Fieri 5 strain

I didn’t love this version.

The sake added an almost savory quality that just didn’t meld with the fruity and tart cranberry. And although the recipe called for the same amount of all four liquids, the sake was the overpowering flavor.

Guy Fieri 6

I appreciated the lime garnish, which made the drink look nicer. The color was also pretty and lighter than the others, but I just wished it tasted as good as it looked.

Brown’s recipe required making a cranberry granita in advance

Alton Brown 6 ingredients

At first glance, this recipe looked quick and easy, but it involved a little extra front-end work to make the cranberry granita — a sweet, icy dessert similar to sorbet.

Aside from that, the ingredients and process were simple. The only issue I ran into was finding fresh cranberries in February.

I ended up getting a frozen bag, and it worked like a charm in place of fresh.

This recipe took the longest to make

Alton Brown 1 cranberry granita

The first step was making the cranberry granita, which needs to happen at least six hours before mixing the drink itself.

I boiled sugar, cranberries, and water together until most of the cranberries were bursting open. Then I poured the entire mixture into a food processor and blended until smooth.

Alton Brown 4 add lime zest and freeze

The recipe says to strain this mixture onto a sheet pan before putting it in the freezer, which would help it freeze quicker.

But there just wasn’t enough room in my freezer for a sheet pan to lie flat, so I used a sealable container.

Alton Brown 5 shaving granita

Once the granita was frozen, things moved quickly.

I used a fork to shave the frozen cranberry mixture, then I measured out 2 1/2 ounces of the flavored ice and added it to a cocktail shaker filled with ice, vodka, and lime juice.

Alton Brown 8 lime juice

I shook the container until it sounded more liquidy and the granita melted.

Brown’s cosmopolitan balanced sweetness and tartness

Alton Brown 11

With the extra effort, I was hopeful that this one would turn out amazing, and my high expectations were met.

This recipe resulted in a perfectly tart cosmopolitan, and the puréed cranberries turned the drink into an attractive, bright-red liquid.

My only complaint is that it could use another half-ounce or so of alcohol because the recipe only called for an ounce of vodka and no orange liqueur.

Alton Brown 12

Luckily, adding an extra splash of alcohol is an easy adjustment.

The granita recipe made a large container that I’ll be keeping in my freezer so I can make this cosmopolitan often.

I’ll be making Brown’s and Garten’s cosmopolitans again soon

Ina Garten 9

Until the granita in my freezer is gone, I plan to make many more cosmopolitans following Brown’s recipe, with an extra splash of vodka.

When I’m in a pitch or in the mood for a boozier cocktail, Garten’s will be my go-to recipe. 

Unfortunately, Fieri’s sake-spiked version wasn’t for me, and I don’t think the rest of the recipe was interesting enough to make it again without the added spirit. 

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