The classic Sea Breeze cocktail combines vodka, cranberry juice and grapefruit juice and is an icon of 1980s drinking culture. But it’s likely that some form of the drink originated decades earlier. The Sea Breeze Cooler, for example, combines gin with apricot brandy, lemon and grenadine and appeared in cocktail books as early as 1930. Another version stems from the 1960s, where it’s closely tied to an Ocean Spray recipe booklet that promoted cranberries for use in food and drinks. So, the drink’s legacy extends beyond the vodka-fueled craze of the ’80s, which also gave us other vodka-cranberry creations like the Cape Codder.
The 1928 Sea Breeze belongs to David Moo, the owner of Quarter Bar in Brooklyn. His mashup of old and new features gin, grenadine and fresh grapefruit juice and was concocted in 2013 after he found an old Sea Breeze recipe.
“I was browsing cocktail recipes when I came across it,” he says. "It wasn’t necessarily in an old book—I actually don’t remember where I found it. But I do remember reading that the original recipe was from the 1920s, but it didn’t give an exact year, and it involved gin. I thought, ‘That sounds like a considerably better drink.’ So I made one for myself, and it was delicious. I put it on the menu.” He dubbed it the 1928 Sea Breeze, choosing the year at random in a nod to the cocktail’s lengthy history.
Moo builds the drink in a tall glass with plenty of ice, no garnish, so you should do the same. Grab a bottle of dry gin, squeeze a grapefruit and make a quick batch of grenadine. Homemade pomegranate grenadine is key, as its rich, tart flavor adds depth and complexity in addition to sweetness, unlike the bright-red commercial versions, which are artificially colored and cloying.
- 2 ounces Gordon’s gin
- 1/4 ounce grenadine
- 3 ounces ruby-red grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed
Add the gin and grenadine to a highball glass and stir briefly to combine.
Add ice and top with the grapefruit juice.