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Local Legend Of The Week: Creator Of The Original Cosmopolitan Cocktail, Neal Murray

Updated: Feb 04, 2024 08:33
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We here at like to show love to the people who make cities like San Francisco and New York special. That’s why we’ve begun doing a new series called Local Legend of the Week. This is our chance to hip you to some of the strange, brilliant, and unique folks who populate these towns and give them the character that people from around the world have come to love.

Is there someone you want to nominate as Local Legend of the Week? Then please email us here.


Lower Haight Resident and Local Legend Neal Murray

Neal Murray invented the Cosmopolitan Cocktail, it says so on his business card.  He’s also been bartending and serving in San Francisco since the early 1980’s, pouring drinks and exchanging jokes with the likes of Robin Williams and Don Johnson, and catering birthday parties for Willie Brown and Herb Cain.  He’s met Joe DiMaggio, Timothy Leary, Shirley Temple, Herbie Hancock, and Miles Davis, and served drinks to 6 different San Francisco mayors. But his most recent accolade is that he’s this weeks San Francisco Local Legend.  Neal and I sat down at his house in the lower haight, to sip bourbon, and talk about the history behind his most famous creation.

Neal made the first Cosmopolitan in the summer of 1975.  He was tending bar near Minneapolis Minnesota and tinkering with different versions of the Kamikaze.  Neal was the only black employee in a white bread bar, in a very white town.  He only got the job because his friend went against the wishes of the white owners and hired him anyway.  When Neal’s friend asked him what the new drink he made was all about he said, “It’s a Kamikaze with a little color,” referencing Neal’s ‘urban’ look his friend noted, “well how cosmopolitan.”  And from that day forth Vodka, Lime & Cranberry had a name, and it didn’t stay in Minnesota for long.  Neal took his drink with him all around the country.  First to Washington DC where he worked as a Congressional Intern, he frequented the bars and always ordered a ‘Cosmopolitan’ as his first drink, describing it as a “Kamakazi” with a splash of cranberry.  Neal introduced the cosmopolitan to bartenders in Chicago, New York, Miami, Dallas, & finally San Francisco, where he still lives today.

Name:  Neal Murray Creator Of The Original Cosmopolitan Cocktail Year arrived in San Francisco: 1979

Favorite Place to Work in San Francisco: Fog City Diner

Favorite District: Lower Haight

Best Politician In San Francisco History: Nancy Pelosi

Favorite Restaurant: Zuni Cafe

Favorite Bar: Molitov’s

Favorite Drink: Barbados Cosmopolitan

Best Hangover Cure: Fernet Branca

Favorite Free Thing to do in The City: Academy of Sciences on the Free Day

How has the City Changed?: “It’s become over populated, but that’s not all bad.  Anytime you can create jobs and create economic activity, it’s a positive thing.  It doesn’t matter whether its the doc workers of the 1920s or these young engineers of today with they’re imaginative stuff.  San Francisco today is a place where it’s all happening, progress is about change, and if you’re apposed to change, well, you’re an old fogie.” (laughs)

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