Conduct an informal poll, and drinkers will probably tell you that the Sea Breeze is a 1980s icon that belongs with other warm-weather cocktails of the era, like the Cape Codder. Then you’ll have to break the news that, while the ’80s certainly helped to immortalize the Sea Breeze in the modern cocktail canon, the fun-loving decade is about 50 years off from when the drink originated.
Before the Sea Breeze, there was the Sea Breeze Cooler, a cocktail that dates back to at least 1930, when it appeared in Harry Craddock’s “The Savoy Cocktail Book.” Placed in a section entitled “Coolers,” the drink contained dry gin and apricot brandy, plus lemon juice, grenadine and sparkling water. That’s right: The Sea Breeze got its start as a gin drink. It was only later that vodka muscled its way into the recipe, similar to how vodka also usurped gin in the Gimlet and other classic cocktails.
Beyond the base spirit, apricot brandy and juice swap, the Sea Breeze Cooler is most notable for what it doesn’t include: cranberry juice. That’s because the vodka-and-cranberry rendition likely came about due to some clever marketing by Ocean Spray in the 1960s, when the brand began publishing recipe booklets to promote using cranberries in more foods and drinks. One of those drinks was called the Sea Breeze and featured cranberry juice. The trend stuck.
The vodka, cranberry and grapefruit Sea Breeze is a fine drink, but the gin-based Sea Breeze Cooler is a tart, refreshing cocktail in its own right. Make the original to test its mettle against the better-known version, and see how gin, apricot brandy and lemon evoke breezy sentiments deserving of the name.
- 1 ounce dry gin
- 1 ounce apricot brandy
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 2 dashes grenadine
- Club soda, to top
- Garnish: mint sprig
Fill a highball glass with ice, then add the gin, apricot brandy, lemon juice and grenadine.
Top with the Club soda and stir briefly to combine.
Garnish with a mint sprig.