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Bartenders Tell Us The Best Vodkas To Mix Into A Cosmopolitan (For National Cosmo Day)


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There’s a pretty good chance that Sex And The City ruined the cosmopolitan for you. The character’s obsession with a neon pinked hued-version of the classic cocktail made it fairly unpalatable for many people. But this combination of vodka, triple sec, fresh lime juice, and cranberry juice, is refreshing when made right. Plus it’s downright boozy. Pretty much a vodka-based daiquiri with the addition of cranberry.

The cosmo’s genesis is disputed as multiple bartenders have taken credit for its creation, but one thing is for sure: Enough time has passed to give this gem another shot. May 7th is National Cosmopolitan Day, so we asked some of our favorite bartenders to tell us their favorite vodkas to mix into this underappreciated cocktail.

Absolut Elyx

Absolut Elyx

Cody Goldstein, bartender at The Flying Cock in New York City

“My go-to vodka would have to Absolut Elyx Vodka, because it’s smooth and you really taste the grain in it. This vodka works perfectly as a base for any martini or cosmopolitan, and it does not have the ‘bite’ you sometimes experience from vodka selections.”

St. George California Citrus

St. George Spirits

Kellie Thorn, bar manager at Empire State South in Atlanta

“What’s my go-to vodka to add to a Cosmopolitan and why? St. George Citrus Vodka. It is so bright and has layers of citrus flavor. It shines in a Cosmopolitan.”

Hangar 1

Hangar 1 Vodka

Nahm Kim, beverage director at Sunda in Chicago

“Hangar 1 Vodka, out of the Bay Area is a very reasonably priced vodka that drinks like something sporting a higher price tag. Made with wheat and viognier grapes, it drinks light and clean and their utilization of fresh seasonal fruit for their flavored products results in a final product clearly superior to other vodkas at a similar price point.”

Bootlegger 21

Bootlegger Vodka

Alli Torres, bartender at Refinery in New York City

“I’m really loving the Bootlegger 21 Vodka from the Prohibition Distillery in Roscoe, NY. They use 100% corn, charcoal filter, and are additive free. Mixing it into cocktails or sipping by itself, it’s so smooth without the traditional alcohol burn you’d feel in other vodkas. It’s also gluten-free, and kosher… which in NYC, is a huge selling point. New York is a melting pot of various cultures and restrictions, so it’s always a bonus to confidently place something in front of so many different people that will be well received. Bootlegger 21 Vodka is one of those products.”

Ketel One

Ketel One Vodka

Neil Minger, head bartender at Ellington’s Mid Way Bar & Grill in Nashville

“Vodka is one of those liquors that is definitely shunned in the cocktail world, it’s like asking someone what their favorite light beer is. But I honestly love Ketel One. It has a high minerality that balances out the citrus from the lime and tartness from the cranberry in a cosmo.”

St. George All Purpose

St. George Spirits

Adam Robinson, bartender at Deadshot in Portland, Oregon

“With cocktails like the cosmopolitan I always tend to leave that up to the guest given than vodka drinkers are very brand loyal, but if they leave it up to me I usually suggest something like Reyka or St. George ‘All Purpose.’ Both are very well made products with a very clean taste and work extremely well in Vodka-based cocktails.”

Absolut Grapefruit

Absolut Vodka

Lacy Hawkins, brand ambassador of Monkey 47 Gin

“Lately I’ve really been obsessed with grapefruits — the juice, the garnish, the fruit, all of it. The Absolut Grapefruit makes an incredible Cosmopolitan and takes a cocktail that has really been put through the ringer and makes it more refreshing and finishes with a bright grapefruit zing.”

Castle & Key

Castle & Key

Andrew Erickson, bartender at L27 in Nashville

“When making a Cosmopolitan for a guest at home I instantly reach for three things. I reach for Fresh Lemons, Cointreau, and Castle & Key Vodka. This relatively new-to-the-market vodka has beautiful undertones of citrus and holds a presence in any vodka cocktail. The story and history behind the product will even entice every whiskey drinker that cares to listen. The distillery uses the same mash bill as their bourbon whiskey giving it characteristics that you will not find in any other vodka.”

Absolut Citron

Absolut Vodka

Jason O’Bryan, spirits director at The Florence in San Diego

“Cosmos are an example of the usefulness of a good flavored vodka — here I reach for the classic Absolut Citron, for both for the zesty background notes and because they don’t add any sugar.”

Reyka

Reyka

Josh Cameron, head bartender at Boulton & Watt in New York City

“Reyka, baby. These guys didn’t saturate the market claiming to be the original or only vodka or to have invented the ‘vodka soda variation of adding two limes instead of one!.’ And most importantly, the juice is smooth, and lets the cocktail shine.”

Cathead

Cathead Vodka

Sally Gatza, head bartender at L.A. Jackson Bar in Nashville

“What’s my go-to vodka to add to a Cosmo? Cathead. It’s distilled the same amount of times as Tito’s and they support musicians. A great brand for Nashville, also known as Music City.”

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