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7 Interesting Facts About Sea Breeze Cocktail

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The Sea Breeze is a refreshing summertime cocktail that emerged during the tiki drink and vodka crazes several decades ago. This fruity, citrusy concoction typically blends grapefruit juice, cranberry juice, and vodka over ice. It delivers a tangy yet slightly sweet flavor profile reminiscent of a day at the beach.

While it may seem simple, this cocktail actually has an intriguing backstory. Its history winds through the Prohibition era, decades of recipe evolution, marketing campaigns, and shifting consumer tastes. There are also some fascinating variations worth knowing about.

Below are 7 interesting facts about the history, evolution, and modern incarnations of the Sea Breeze cocktail:

Facts About the Sea Breeze Cocktail

1. Originated during Prohibition with different ingredients

The roots of the Sea Breeze stretch back to the 1920s Prohibition era in America. During this time, cocktails continued to be consumed illegally in speakeasies. An early recipe for a drink called the Sea Breeze first appeared, but it had gin and grenadine instead of the modern vodka and cranberry/grapefruit blend.

2. Harry Craddock’s 1930s recipe used gin and apricot brandy

In the 1930s, British bartender Harry Craddock shared an updated take on the Sea Breeze in his popular book The Savoy Cocktail Book. His recipe combined gin, apricot brandy, lemon juice, and grenadine. It was called the “Sea Breeze Cooler.” This version clearly evolved from the earlier Prohibition-era one.

3. Cranberry juice was popularized in the 1960s

The modern, cranberry-infused Sea Breeze likely emerged in the 1960s following an Ocean Spray advertising campaign promoting the use of cranberry juice in cocktails. The tart cranberry juice blended perfectly with citrusy grapefruit juice to give the Sea Breeze its signature flavor.

4. Similar cocktails emerged like the Cape Codder

Around the same era, similar cranberry juice cocktails started appearing like the Cape Codder (which lacks grapefruit juice) and the Bay Breeze or Hawaiian Sea Breeze (which contains pineapple juice instead of grapefruit). But the original Sea Breeze recipe endures as the most popular.

5. Big resurgence in the 1970s and 1990s

After its creation in the 1960s, the Sea Breeze really took off in the 1970s at the height of disco-era cocktail culture. It enjoyed an even bigger resurgence in the 1990s thanks in part to Absolut vodka’s wildly successful marketing campaign with branded jugs designed for serving Sea Breeze pitchers.

6. Shaking adds festive “sea foam” topping

The standard way to prepare a Sea Breeze is to build all the ingredients over ice in a glass. However, shaking the cocktail adds a light foamy topping that resembles sea foam on ocean waves. This makes for a very aesthetically appealing presentation.

7. Many riffs and variations have emerged

Finally, bartenders and home mixologists have crafted many variations on the Sea Breeze over the years by tweaking the standard recipe. Some examples include the Winter Sea Breeze (with gin instead of vodka), Peach Breeze (with added peach liqueur) and Sparkling Sea Breeze (with bubbly wine or soda water). The options are endless!


In closing, the Sea Breeze has come a long way from its Prohibition-era origins to its modern incarnation as a beloved warm weather cocktail. Its endurance is a testament to its crowd-pleasing flavor. While the original blend of vodka, cranberry and grapefruit juices is always a foolproof choice, there are also many exciting remixes worth experimenting with for the adventurous drinker. So next time you’re at a beachside bar, consider ordering this tiki classic with a twist!

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