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April 07, 2004

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Publication Date: Wednesday, April 07, 2004

How Cosmopolitan! Marche's maitre d' lays claim to creating the Cosmopolitan cocktail How Cosmopolitan! Marche's maitre d' lays claim to creating the Cosmopolitan cocktail (April 07, 2004)

By Jane Knoerle
Almanac Lifestyles Editor

The Cosmopolitan cocktail, beverage of choice for the "Sex and the City" gang, didn't originate in New York City but at the Cork & Cleaver, a "steak and baked potato place" in Minneapolis. That's the scoop, according to its creator, Neal Murray, now maitre d' at Marche restaurant in Menlo Park.

Mr. Murray, a suave gentleman who knows his way around the restaurant business, says he created the popular pink drink back in 1975 when he was a college kid at the University of Minnesota. He applied for the bartender's job at the Cork but was turned down because he's African American, says Mr. Murray.

Thinking the youth was treated unfairly, the bookkeeper hired him anyway when the restaurant manager went out of town for the weekend. The only problem was, Mr. Murray had never tended bar.

"I had to learn to make all those drinks, like the Gold Cadillac and Pink Squirrel, in three days," recalls Mr. Murray. A favorite cocktail at the time was the Kamikaze, a blend of vodka, Cointreau (a sweet orange-flavor liqueur) and lime juice.

Fooling around behind the bar, the novice added a splash of cranberry juice to a Kamikaze. He garnished the pink drink with a twist of lime and offered a patron a taste. The fellow took a sip and said, "How cosmopolitan!" Thus the name.

"From then on it was my drink and I always ordered it," says Mr. Murray. When he went to Washington, D.C., in 1977 to become a congressional intern, he took the recipe with him. When he came West to work in the restaurant business in the 1980s, the drink had already preceded him.

While working at Fog City Diner in San Francisco, Mr. Murray further refined his drink by creating the Barbados Cosmopolitan, made with Mt. Gay rum. The drinks menu at Bix restaurant in San Francisco credits him with inventing the Barbados Cosmo. He says the taste is mellow, the color more golden.

Now Cosmopolitans are known from Tokyo to Moscow. At Marche, bartender Brent Burgess says the Cosmopolitan and Lemon Drop are favorites with the ladies. Men prefer martinis.

While the guys at Marche rib Mr. Murray about his creation, he's proud that its 30th anniversary is coming up next year. "Maybe I could be hired as a spokesman for the drink in the (liquor) industry," he muses.

There are many variations on the Cosmopolitan. Some prefer flavored vodka. Others use Rose's lime juice, instead of fresh lime, making a sweeter drink. The following recipe includes the basic ingredients:


1-1/2 ounces vodka or citrus-flavored vodka
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1 ounce cranberry juice
1/2 ounce lime juice

Combine in a shaker with crushed ice. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a twist of lime.

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