Few cocktails are more perfect for flirting with the bartender than sex on the beach. No matter how straight-faced you are, you can't order the drink without sounding like you're making a proposition. When you'd rather flirt with your date, create this sexy tropical cocktail at home.

The Story of Sex on the Beach

The story of the origin of the sex on the beach cocktail is like something out of an '80s teen flick. According to one legend, the drink was born from a marketing stunt, an inventive cocktail waiter and a surplus of peach schnapps. Add spring break on a Florida beach to the mix, and you have the famous, fabulous, fruity cocktail we know today.

As the story goes, in 1987, a company rather boringly called National Distribution wanted to market its latest product, peach schnapps. The company decided the best place to push their drink would be Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and the best time would be spring break. However, something extra was needed to boost sales. What better than a competition to see who could sell the most of the sweet, sticky liqueur?

National Distribution offered $1,000 to the bar that could move the most peach schnapps. Also, a $100 prize would go to the bartender who sold the most drinks that contained the liqueur. The stakes were set, and the game was on.

The Star of the Show

Enter Ted Pizio, bartender at Confetti's bar. The enterprising Ted rose to the challenge and invented a vodka-based cocktail rich with fruit juices and highlighted with a sour tang. Sex on the beach was born.

The cocktail was a huge success, and when the spring break revelers returned to college, they remembered the drink's name and the recipe. They requested the cocktail at local bars. Sex on the beach's fame spread around the country, probably aided by the drink's risqué name.

The Original Sex on the Beach

The ingredients in Ted's original cocktail were vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice and grenadine. The final ingredient gave the drink its characteristic red coloring. Later, more widely available cranberry juice came to replace the nonalcoholic bar syrup.

Is the story of the drink's invention even true? History doesn't tell us if Ted Pizio won the competition prize. Perhaps, like many cocktail tales, the fun is in the telling and not the facts.

The Alternative Story

Sex on the beach is a combination of two well-known cocktails: the fuzzy navel and the Cape Codder. The fuzzy navel is made from peach schnapps and orange juice, and the Cape Codder is made from cranberry juice and vodka. It wouldn't take a genius to simply mix the two drinks in one glass.

What's more, there's another version of the origin story of sex on the beach. According to the other tale, the drink first appeared five years before National Distribution's marketing stunt. The "American Bartenders' School Guide to Drinks," 1982 edition, is said to have included the drink.

Sex on the Beach Recipe

You can mix sex on the beach ingredients by shaking them in a cocktail shaker or by stirring them in the glass. In this recipe, the ingredients are layered. The two alcoholic components sit at the bottom and top of the glass. Some mixing is inevitable as you add each ingredient, but the drinker should still receive a nice kick when beginning and finishing the drink. This version substitutes pineapple juice for the traditional orange juice.

Total Time: 3 minutes | Prep Time: 3 minutes | Serves: 1


  • Ice cubes

  • 1 ounce vodka

  • 1 3/4 ounces cranberry juice

  • 1 3/4 ounces pineapple juice
  • 1/2 ounce peach schnapps
  • 1 orange wheel (a slice cut through the center of an orange)


  1. Fill a highball glass 3/4 full with ice cubes.

  2. Pour in 1 ounce of vodka.

  3. Add the cranberry juice.

  4. Add the pineapple juice.

  5. Add the peach schnapps.

  6. Cut halfway through the orange wheel and push it onto the side of the glass as a garnish.


Sex on the beach is a fun cocktail that allows for a range of kitschy, jokey garnishes. Feel free to add cocktail umbrellas, striped straws, ice cubes containing fruit pieces or candied fruit. Alternatively, before you make the cocktail, dip the glass rim into water and then into colored sugar crystals for a colorful, frosty, decorative effect.

Midori Sex on the Beach

Providing your ingredients include vodka or white rum, a fruit juice, a fruity liqueur and something to provide a sour tang, you can go to town on experimenting with sex on the beach. One alternative features the melon-flavored liqueur Midori and a raspberry liqueur as well as the regular sex on the beach ingredients.

This recipe creates a super-chill drink, suitable for hot nights and steamy atmospheres. It takes a little longer to make than a layered or stirred sex on the beach, but the result is worth it. You'll need a cocktail shaker and a strainer.

Total Time: 5 minutes | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Serves: 1


  • 3/4 ounce vodka
  • 1 1/2 ounces orange juice
  • 1 1/2 ounces cranberry juice
  • 3/4 ounce Midori
  • 3/4 ounce Chambord black raspberry liqueur
  • Ice cubes


  1. Pour all the liquid ingredients into a cocktail shaker.
  2. Fill the shaker with ice cubes and seal the lid.
  3. Shake the shaker vigorously for 5 to 7 seconds.
  4. Half-fill a highball glass with ice cubes.
  5. Open the shaker and pour the mixture through a strainer into the glass.

New and Trendy Ingredients

Adventurous bartenders have brought the sex on the beach cocktail into the 21st century. Egg white, tea syrups and vinegars are a few of the trendy ingredients that have been incorporated into the drink. Egg whites add a smooth, silky effect, tea syrups provide subtle flavors and vinegar offers an interesting alternative tang.

Some specialty cocktail ingredients aren't easy to buy. You might be able to find a range of vinegars at your local grocery store. Tea syrups are simple to make at home from sugar, water and tea bags. Prep tea syrups in advance, however, because they take longer than an hour to make.

Egg whites are gloopy and viscous in their natural, raw state. If they aren't thoroughly mixed into a drink, the drinker might experience a nasty effect of unpleasant stringiness in the cocktail. To avoid this problem, mix the ingredients without ice first and then once more after shaking with ice.

Sex on the Beach With Egg Whites, Tea Syrup and Vinegar

In this sex on the beach recipe, a berry tea syrup replaces the traditional peach schnapps, and honey vinegar is a substitute for cranberry juice. The berry tea provides the expected red coloring of the cocktail.

Total Time: 5 minutes | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Serves: 1


  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 egg white
  • 3/4 ounce pineapple juice
  • 3/4 ounce berry tea syrup
  • 1/2 ounce honey vinegar
  • Ice cubes


  1. Pour all the liquid ingredients into a cocktail shaker.

  2. Close the lid and shake vigorously for about 10 seconds.

  3. Open the shaker and fill it with ice.

  4. Close the lid and shake vigorously again for another 10 seconds.

  5. Strain the cocktail out of the shaker into a spare glass.

  6. Remove the ice from the shaker.

  7. Replace the cocktail ingredients in the shaker and shake the mixture for a third time.

  8. Half-fill a highball glass with ice.

  9. Strain the cocktail into the glass and serve.


To make simple syrup, add 2 cups of sugar to an equal amount of hot water and stir until the mixture is clear. To make berry tea syrup, heat 16 ounces of plain water and add 5 berry tea bags. Turn off the heat and leave the tea bags to steep for 1 hour. Remove the tea bags and stir in 16 ounces of simple syrup.

Nonalcoholic Sex on the Beach

You don't need to be drunk to have fun. Sex on the beach minus the alcohol is just as delicious as the boozy version. You might hear nonalcoholic variations of the famous cocktail called "cuddles on the beach," "virgin on the beach" and "safe sex on the beach."

Peach nectar is the replacement for peach schnapps. This product is sweeter and thicker than peach juice. If your grocery store doesn't stock it, you can use peach juice. Even the juice from canned peaches will do.

Total Time: 5 minutes | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Serves: 1


  • Ice cubes
  • 3 ounces orange juice
  • 2 ounces peach nectar (or peach juice)
  • 3 ounces cranberry juice
  • 1 tablespoon grenadine
  • Pineapple wedge


  1. Half-fill a highball glass with ice cubes.

  2. Pour in all the liquid ingredients.

  3. Stir the mixture.

  4. Push the pineapple wedge onto the side of the glass as a garnish and serve.


Nonalcoholic sex on the beach isn't only for adults on the wagon and minors. Serve the fruity cocktail at breakfast. If you're hung over from overindulgence the night before, the mixture of fruit juices is a healthy pick-you-up.

Sparkling Sex on the Beach

Fizzy sex on the beach works for alcoholic and nonalcoholic versions of the cocktail. To lend the cocktail extra sparkle, add a couple of ounces of tonic water, mineral water, 7-Up or ginger ale to the regular ingredients. Tonic and mineral water add fizz and tone down the sweetness, but 7-Up makes it sweeter. Ginger ale adds spice.

Mix a carbonated sex on the beach cocktail thoroughly with a long spoon to distribute the bubbles. Don't shake this version, however. If you're too vigorous when you mix the ingredients, you'll lose the fizziness.


  • Ice cubes
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 2 ounces orange juice
  • 2 ounces cranberry juice
  • 2 ounces peach nectar (or peach juice)
  • 2 ounces ginger ale


  1. Half-fill a highball glass with ice.

  2. Pour in all the liquid ingredients.

  3. Stir well and serve.


For a nonalcoholic, sparkling sex on the beach, replace the vodka with grapefruit juice.

What to Eat With Sex on the Beach

The strong flavors of sex on the beach are not shy and retiring. This is not a drink to pair with cordon bleu cookery or dishes that are famous for their subtle, complicated tastes. If you're pacing your night of indulgence by eating a meal or snacks, or if you're simply hungry, pick food that can compete with sweet fruitiness.

The spices and heat of Mexican and Indian food are not drowned out by a sex on the beach cocktail. Tacos, burritos and curries all taste good alongside the sweet, fruity cocktail. The fruit acids of the drink also cut nicely through slightly oily foods like Chinese stir-fried rice. If you feel like something simple, pick a cheesy pasta.

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About the Author

Jenny Green

Jenny Green has a Masters in English literature and has been a freelance writer since 2008.