“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” is attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, the famous Italian artist and inventor. With his creative brain constantly analysing ideas and refining them, he would know!

Sea Breeze

The Sea Breeze must rank as one of the easiest cocktails to make. It requires no special syrups or exotic ingredients, no fancy techniques or unique glass – so it lives up to Da Vinci’s maxim. But that wasn’t how it started out apparently.

Word on the street is that the Sea Breeze started life in the Roaring Twenties, an era known for the birth of jazz music, dropped waists in ladies fashion and the booze ban of Prohibition in America. Gin was the spirit used in the original cocktail, along with apricot brandy, the vivid red hued grenadine syrup and lemon juice for an added sour tang.

As with most things in the cocktail world, it featured in the famous The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock. The drink appeared in the Coolers section as the Sea Breeze Cooler. “In a tall tumbler, add the juice of half a lemon, two dashes of grenadine and equal parts apricot brandy and dry gin over ice,” Amy Zavatto wrote on Liquor.com’s website in 2019. She also mentioned that Craddock added a splash of soda water and garnished the drink with a mint sprig.

The first refinement of the cocktail was to change it up completely – almost beyond recognition! Vodka was swopped out for the gin, the peach brandy was dropped and the popular Italian Galliano liqueur included, along with blue Curaçao and dry vermouth!

The cranberry juice taking over and adding its lovely pinkish red hue to the drink is attributed to a very effective marketing campaign in the 1950s by the cranberry growers co-operative, to support and promote the growth of Ocean Spray cranberry juice. The drink was a hit, served from California to Massachusetts and by the 1960s was a firm favourite. Every bartender knew how to mix up a Sea Breeze with its simple1:2:1 ratio – one part vodka to two parts cranberry juice and one part grapefruit juice.

But there was a bit of a hiccup in that decade when the United States Department of Health warned about high levels of toxins from pesticides used in the growing of cranberries. It scared people off and the drink only returned to popularity in the 1980s once memories had faded and farmers had also reduced their use of certain products.

That, along with the popularity of the Tom Cruise movie, Cocktail saw a resurgence in the fortunes of mixed drinks and the Sea Breeze was back, baby!

There are a few very easy twists or substitutions which can extend the home mixologist’s repertoire. By using pineapple juice rather than grapefruit, the drink morphs into the Bay Breeze (also known as the Hawaiian Sea Breeze).

The second alternative is the Cape Codder in which the grapefruit juice disappears altogether, leaving just vodka and cranberry. Doing it the other way around and losing the cranberry juice and making it only with grapefruit juice and either vodka or gin creates a greyhound. Taken one step further and salting the rim of the highball glass in which this version is served creates the Salty Dog.

Sea Breeze

40 ml vodka

80 ml cranberry juice

40 ml grapefruit juice


Build all ingredients in a highball glass filled with ice.

Garnish with an orange or lime wedge.