The Sea Breeze is one of those fun & fruity vodka cocktails that enjoyed its heyday during the 1980s. A simple mix of vodka, cranberry juice, and grapefruit juice, it’s a sweet and tart long drink that pairs well with lazy summer days at the beach.
Find more fresh winter citrus cocktails here!
Although the Sea Breeze is often associated with the ‘80s, the original Sea Breeze, known as the “Sea Breeze Cooler”, first appeared in The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock in 1930. This version was made with a very different mix of gin, grenadine, apricot brandy, and lemon juice. Like many cocktails, the recipe was adjusted and altered over time, and ultimately became something very different. Ocean Spray apparently made the Sea Breeze that we know today, in their efforts to re-market cranberry juice following issues with herbicide contaminated crops in the 1960s.
I honestly never paid much attention to the Sea Breeze until I took my first deep dive into the world of mocktails a few months ago. I found that cranberry juice and grapefruit juice were a pleasant, not-too-sweet juice combination, unlike many fruit juice blend cocktails and mocktails.
Freshly squeezed juice is always best
The key is the balance of sweet and sour, so if you’re opting for bottled (and sweetened) grapefruit juice, add a squeeze of fresh lime to cut the sweetness. You can also top it off with sparkling water to make for an even more crisp and refreshing drink. When I make a mocktail Sea Breeze, I use sparkling water in place of vodka. Like many vodka cocktails, the Sea Breeze is also fantastic with gin, so feel free to substitute if you’re a gin fan.
A simple, approachable cocktail
No, the Sea Breeze is not a fancy, refined craft cocktail. But it is very tasty, crowd-pleasing, and easy enough for anyone to make at home. Even though I love wildly creative cocktails, I recognize that not everyone wants to whip up custom syrups or buy expensive liqueurs just to make one drink recipe they found on the internet.
The modern Sea Breeze is typically a characteristic bright red, but I’ve used white cranberry juice in my Winter Sea Breeze for a pretty pale pink drink. Rather than the traditional lime wheel, I decided to garnish with a a juicy slice of pink grapefruit and sprig of cooling mint. I’ve also added some unique Grapefruit Mint bitters to emphasize the fresh and cool flavors, and garnished with a petite orchid to give the drink a little tropical flair.
Winter Sea Breeze
- 1 1/2 oz vodka (also try it with gin, rum, tequila, or aquavit!)
- 3 oz white cranberry juice
- 1 1/2 oz pink grapefruit juice freshly squeezed is best
- 5 drops Wisecraft Grapefruit Mint Bitters
- Fill a tall glass with ice. Add all ingredients and stir well.
- Garnish with pink grapefruit, a sprig of mint, and an edible orchid, if desired.