Sex on the Beach Cocktail: The Ultimate Recipe

What’s the Sex on the Beach cocktail?

The Sex on the Beach cocktail is a popular fruity drink known for its vibrant red-orange hue and refreshing taste. Typically prepared by shaking vodka, peach liqueur, orange juice, and cranberry juice, it is served over ice in a highball glass. The cocktail is garnished with an orange slice, adding to its visual appeal.

Its fruity sweet-tart flavor profile make it a favorite at beach parties and summer gatherings. The cocktail’s popularity is attributed to the fruity flavor, easy preparation, and inviting appearance, making it a staple in modern cocktail culture.

Sex on the Beach = summer in a cocktail glass

Why is the cocktail called Sex on the Beach?

The Sex on the Beach cocktail derives its name from its association with the playful spirit often linked to beach vacations. The name “Sex on the Beach” was coined in Florida in 1987 by a bartender named Ted at Confetti’s Bar during a peach schnapps marketing campaign, encapsulating the main attractions of Florida’s spring break – the beach and romantic encounters. It has quickly become popular for its tropical taste, attractive presentation, and easy-to-remember, suggestive name. Since the 1980s, it has cemented its status in cocktail culture, appealing to those seeking a taste of summer indulgence and a visual treat.

Ingredients for Sex on the Beach Cocktail

The Sex on the Beach cocktail is a vibrant blend of four ingredients, customizable to individual preferences.

The base recipe includes 45 ml (1.5 oz) vodka, 15 ml (0.5 oz) peach liqueur, 45 ml (1.5 oz) each of orange juice and cranberry juice, served over ice and often garnished with an orange slice.

Optional enhancements include 15 ml (0.5 oz) raspberry liqueur for a berry note, or 30 ml (1 oz) pineapple juice for a tropical twist. Remember, these measurements are guidelines and can be adjusted to taste.

  1. Vodka: 45 ml (1.5 oz)
  2. Peach Liqueur: 15 ml (0.5 oz)
  3. Orange Juice: 45 ml (1.5 oz)
  4. Cranberry Juice: 45 ml (1.5 oz)
  5. Ice Cubes: For serving
  6. Orange Slice: For garnish
  • Optional: Raspberry liqueur (15 ml / 0.5 oz), Pineapple juice (30 ml / 1 oz)
  • Adjustable: Change quantities to personal preference

Ingredient Substitutes for Sex on the Beach Cocktail

The main ingredients in the Sex on the Beach cocktail can be substituted to suit personal preferences or availability.

For the vodka, consider gin or tequila as alternatives. Instead of peach liqueur, try other liqueurs like raspberry, apricot or cherry. For a non-alcoholic version, a peach syrup can be used. Replace orange juice with pineapple, grapefruit or mango juice for a different citrus or sweet profile. Similarly, cranberry juice can be substituted with pomegranate or cherry juice.

  • Vodka Alternatives: Gin, tequila
  • Peach Liqueur Alternatives: Raspberry, apricot or cherry liqueur; peach syrup (non-alcoholic)
  • Orange Juice Alternatives: Pineapple juice, grapefruit juice, mango juice
  • Cranberry Juice Alternatives: Pomegranate juice, cherry Juice

Ingredient Proportions for Sex on the Beach Cocktail

Crafting the perfect Sex on the Beach cocktail is all about the right mix of ingredients. A commonly used ratio is 2:1:1:1, meaning two parts vodka to one part each of peach liqueur, orange juice, and cranberry juice.

This blend creates a delightful balance between the alcohol’s warmth and the fruity sweetness of the juices. However, it’s important to remember that these proportions are just a guideline. Adjusting the ratio to personal preference is key to achieving the flavor profile that best suits your taste.

  • Recommended Ratio: 2 parts vodka : 1 part peach liqueur : 1 part orange juice : 1 part cranberry juice
  • Adjustment: Proportions can be varied according to personal taste preferences

Best Ingredients for Sex on the Beach Cocktail

The choice of ingredients significantly impacts the overall quality of a Sex on the Beach cocktail.

Opt for a smooth vodka that blends well with other flavors. A peach liqueur with a clear peach taste, not overly sweet, is ideal. Fresh orange juice adds a zesty freshness, while a good quality cranberry juice provides a natural tartness.

  • Vodka: Smooth, blends well
  • Peach Liqueur: Clear peach flavor, not too sweet
  • Orange Juice: Freshly squeezed for zesty freshness
  • Cranberry Juice: Natural, no artificial additives

Flavor Profile of Sex on the Beach Cocktail

The Sex on the Beach cocktail strikes a fine balance between sweet and tart, with the peach liqueur’s fruitiness perfectly complemented by the cranberry juice’s sharpness. Orange juice adds a layer of citrus freshness, while vodka provides a subtle alcoholic foundation. This cocktail is easy to enjoy, catering to a wide range of tastes with its smooth, fruity, and refreshing characteristics, making it a favorite for many cocktail lovers.

  • Balance: Sweet and tart
  • Overall: Smooth, fruity, and refreshing
    • Peach Liqueur: Fruitiness
    • Cranberry Juice: Sharp, tart contrast
    • Orange Juice: Citrus freshness
    • Vodka: Subtle alcoholic base

Tools & Equipment for Sex on the Beach Cocktail

To make a Sex on the Beach cocktail, you will need a jigger to measure the ingredients accurately. Freshly squeezed juice is easy with a good citrus juicer. For preparation, you will need a cocktail shaker and a strainer. For serving, use a highball glass to showcase the drink’s vibrant colors. A bar spoon may be useful for stirring. Finally, a sharp knife and a cutter board will be handy for the orange slice garnish.

  1. Jigger: For accurate measurements
  2. Shaker: For mixing and chilling ingredients
  3. Strainer: For smooth pour
  4. Highball Glass: For serving
  5. Bar Spoon: For stirring (optional)
  6. Citrus Juicer: For freshly squeezed orange juice (optional)
  7. Knife: For garnish preparation

Instructions for Preparing Sex on the Beach Cocktail

To prepare a Sex on the Beach cocktail, start by pouring 45 ml (1.5 oz) of cranberry juice into a highball glass. Next, combine 45 ml (1.5 oz) of vodka, 15 ml (0.5 oz) of peach liqueur and 45 ml (1.5 oz) of orange juice in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake well until the mixture is sufficiently blended and chilled. Add fresh ice into the serving glass, which already contains the cranberry juice. Using a strainer, carefully pour the cocktail from the shaker into the glass, over the cranberry juice and ice, to create the signature red-orange layered effect.

  • Step 1: Pour cranberry juice into a highball glass.
  • Step 2: Combine vodka, peach liqueur and orange juice in a cocktail shaker.
  • Step 3: Add ice into the shaker and shake well until chilled.
  • Step 4: Add ice into the highball glass with cranberry juice.
  • Step 5: Carefully pour cocktail from the shaker into the highball glass, creating a layered effect.
  • Step 6: Garnish with an orange slice.

Pro Tip:

If you’re using optional ingredients, like raspberry liqueur or pineapple juice, how you handle them will depend on their color. Yellow liquids can be added to the shaker with the rest of the “beach” ingredients. Anything red should be combined with the cranberry juice to create the redsex” part.

Stir or Shake: The Best Method for Sex on the Beach Cocktail

The Sex on the Beach cocktail can be prepared in four ways, each offering a different experience in terms of taste, chill, and visual appeal.

The simplest method is building the drink directly in the glass, which is quick, requires no special tools, and creates the signature orange-red layered visual effect—but results in less uniform taste and chill. On the other hand, shaking all ingredients together ensures a well-mixed and chilled cocktail but loses the layered color effect.

For a compromise, pouring cranberry juice first and then shaking and layering the other ingredients maintains both layering and uniform taste. Lastly, for recipes with more than one red ingredient, shaking in two separate batches while keeping the “sex” (red) and “beach” (yellow) parts distinct, beautifully preserves the layered look.

  • Method 1: Build Directly in Glass
    • Pros: Easy, fast, no extra tools needed. Keeps layered effect.
    • Cons: Less uniform in taste and chill.
  • Method 2: Shake Everything Together
    • Pros: Uniform mix and chill. Fastest shaking method.
    • Cons: Destroys layered color. Needs more time and tools that direct build in glass.
  • Method 3: Layer After Shaking Yellow Ingredients
    • Pros: Maintains layered effect. Good mix and chill.
    • Cons: Needs more time than 1. and 2.
  • Method 4: Shake in Two Batches for Layering
    • Pros: Keeps red and yellow layers distinct even for multiple red ingredients.
    • Cons: Most time consuming.

Presentation of Sex on the Beach Cocktail

The choice of glassware and garnishes not only beautifies the Sex on the Beach cocktail but also adds layers of flavor and aroma, making it a sensory experience.

Glassware for Sex on the Beach Cocktail

Traditionally, the Sex on the Beach cocktail is served in a highball glass, which allows the vibrant colors to shine and provides ample space for ice and garnish. For a more tropical look, consider presenting it in a hurricane glass, which gives exotic beach holiday vibes.

  • Classic Option: Highball glass
  • Alternative Option: Hurricane glass

Garnish for Sex on the Beach Cocktail

A classic garnish for the Sex on the Beach cocktail is a simple orange slice, adding a fresh, citrus aroma and a pop of color.

To get creative, consider adding a maraschino cherry for a touch of sweetness, skewered tropical fruit, or a sprig of mint for a refreshing aroma. Add a cocktail umbrella for that quintessential holiday look.

  • Classic Garnish: Orange slice
  • Creative Options: Maraschino cherry, sprig of mint, skewered tropical fruit, cocktail umbrella

Variations & Riffs on the Sex on the Beach Cocktail

Variations of the Sex on the Beach cocktail share a common theme of fruity and refreshing profiles, perfect for beachside sipping or summer parties.

Each brings its unique twist, whether it’s the Woo Woo’s cranberry kick, the Fuzzy Navel’s peachy simplicity, or the exotic blend in a Bahama Mama. The Tequila Sunrise and Bay Breeze are citrus-forward, while the Sea Breeze and Hawaiian Sea Breeze present a tart edge. For a tropical escape, the Malibu Sunset and Sunset Beach cocktails are perfect with their coconut and fruity notes.

  1. Woo Woo: Vodka, Peach Schnapps, Cranberry Juice
  2. Fuzzy Navel: Peach Schnapps, Orange Juice
  3. Bahama Mama: Rum, Coconut Liqueur, Pineapple Juice, Grenadine
  4. Tequila Sunrise: Tequila, Orange Juice, Grenadine
  5. Bay Breeze: Vodka, Cranberry Juice, Pineapple Juice
  6. Sea Breeze: Vodka, Cranberry Juice, Grapefruit Juice
  7. Hawaiian Sea Breeze: Vodka, Pineapple Juice, Cranberry Juice
  8. Malibu Sunset: Coconut Rum, Pineapple Juice, Grenadine
  9. Sunset Beach: Gin, Peach Schnapps, Orange Juice, Cranberry Juice

These variations on the Sex on the Beach cocktail capture the essence of tropical, refreshing drinks, while each offering a unique taste experience.

Experimenting with Your Own Riff on the Sex on the Beach Cocktail


To create your own riff on the classic Sex on the Beach cocktail, start with the base of vodka, you can play with flavored vodkas, gin, rum or even tequila. Similarly, you can alter the flavor and color of the drink by replacing or complementing peach liqueur with other fruit-flavored liqueurs and syrups, like apricot, raspberrycherry and other berries.


Experiment with different types of citrus juices like lime, tangerine or grapefruit for a tangier profile; and fruit juices like pineapple or mango for a tropical twist. The cranberry juice can be replaced by pomegranate or raspberry juices or even exotic flavors such as lychee for a more creative take.


If you’re feeling really adventurous, add a splash of soda or even sparkling wine for a fizzy variant, or even a hint of spicy bitters for a unique kick.

When creating your own version of a Sex on the Beach cocktail, the key is to balance the sweetness, sourness, and alcohol strength to suit your palate.

  1. Vodka: Flavored vodka, gin, rum, tequila
  2. Peach liqueur: apricot schnapps, berry liqueurs (e.g., raspberry, cherry)
  3. Orange juice: Citrus juice (e.g., lime, tangerine grapefruit), fruit juice (e.g., pineapple, mango)
  4. Cranberry juice: Pomegranate juice, raspberry juice, lychee juice
  5. Additions: Soda water or sparkling wine for fizz; bitters for aroma

Serving Occasions for Sex on the Beach Cocktail

The Sex on the Beach cocktail, with its vibrant and refreshing nature, is perfect for a variety of occasions. The key is its ability to bring a sense of joy and festivity to any occasion.

It’s a popular choice for summer parties or beach gatherings, embodying the essence of fun and relaxation. This cocktail also fits beautifully in a more formal setting, like dinner parties or wedding receptions, adding a splash of color and excitement to the event. Its versatile appeal makes it suitable for casual get-togethers, happy hours, or as a delightful start to a romantic evening.

  1. Good Weather: Ideal for summer parties and beach gatherings
  2. Formal: Suitable for formal events like dinner parties and weddings
  3. Casual: Perfect for casual get-togethers and happy hours
  4. Romantic: Adds a romantic touch to intimate evenings

Food Pairings with Sex on the Beach Cocktail

Pairing food with the Sex on the Beach cocktail can enhance both the drink and the dining experience.

This cocktail’s fruity and slightly sweet profile pairs well with light appetizers like shrimp cocktails or ceviche, complementing the seafood’s freshness. It also goes well with grilled chicken or pork dishes, where its citrus notes can cut through the richness of the meat. For vegetarian options, consider pairing it with summer salads that feature fruits like mango or avocado. The cocktail can also be a delightful accompaniment to sushi rolls, particularly those with a bit of sweetness or citrus flavor.

  1. Seafood: Shrimp cocktails, ceviche
  2. Meat: Grilled chicken, pork dishes
  3. Vegetarian: Summer salads with fruits
  4. Sushi: Rolls with sweet or citrus notes

The right food pairings can bring out the best in the Sex on the Beach cocktail, making the entire dining experience more enjoyable and memorable.

Sex on the Beach Cocktail

Sex on the Beach Cocktail

The Sex on the Beach cocktail, with its striking red-orange color and smooth texture, combines vodka, peach liqueur, orange juice, and cranberry juice for a sweet-tart flavor that's visually captivating. Served in a highball glass, garnished with an orange slice, it's a popular choice for its refreshing taste, making it perfect for summer parties, beach gatherings, and pairing with light appetizers or grilled dishes.
Total Time 3 minutes
Print Recipe Pin Recipe


  • 1 Measuring jigger
  • 1 Citrus juicer (for orange juice)
  • 1 Highball glass (or Hurricane glass)
  • 1 Bar spoon (or stirrer)
  • 1 Citrus peeler/knife (for orange garnish)


  • oz Vodka
  • ½ oz Peach liqueur (peach schnapps)
  • oz Orange juice (freshly squeezed)
  • oz Cranberry juice
  • Ice (cubed or crushed, for serving)
  • Orange (for garnish)


  • Ice: Fill a highball glass with ice.
  • Red Layer: Pour in cranberry juice, then peach liqueur.
  • Orange Layer: Carefully layer vodka and top with orange juice.
  • Garnish: Decorate the glass with a slice of fresh orange.


Calories: 173kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 0.5gFat: 0.1gSaturated Fat: 0.01gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.03gSodium: 2mgPotassium: 118mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 104IUVitamin C: 25mgCalcium: 8mgIron: 0.2mg
Calories: 173kcal
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Cocktail
Keyword: cranberry, orange, peach, vodka
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