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The Malibu Sunset is a deliciously tropical layered drink with brilliant colors of a sunset! It’s easy to make and the effect is stunning.

Malibu Sunset

Here’s a brilliant drink that’s visually stunning with a deliciously tropical flavor: the Malibu Sunset! This layered cocktail brings the party with coconut rum, pineapple juice, and orange juice. Add grenadine and it layers into the gradient of the colors of a sunset! It might look intensely sweet, but it’s sweetened just enough, with a fruity finish from the coconut. This refreshing beachy drink is pure delight! (And we’re not just saying that.)

What’s a Malibu Sunset?

The Malibu Sunset is a layered cocktail with coconut rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, and grenadine. The layers of the drink form a gradient that’s the colors of sunset, similar to a Tequila Sunrise or Vodka Sunrise. It’s commonly made with Malibu coconut rum, which is actually closer to a coconut liqueur than a rum.

The history of the Malibu Sunset drink is unclear. Malibu coconut rum launched in 1982, so it was likely invented in the 1980’s as a spinoff on the Tequila Sunrise (itself invented in the 1970’s in California). To make the drink, you’ll need:

  • Coconut rum (like Malibu Coconut Rum)
  • Pineapple juice
  • Orange juice
  • Grenadine
Malibu Sunset

How to make the sunset effect!

The best part of a Malibu Sunset drink? That lovely gradient of color from deep red to orange to yellow! It’s visually stunning and very easy to make at home, with a simple lesson in density. Here’s what to do:

  • Pour the rum and juices in an-ice filled glass. They’ll mix together because they’re all the same density.
  • Slowly pour the grenadine into the middle of the drink. It sinks to the bottom, because it’s denser than the other liquids.
  • Stir gently once to get the gradient effect. This helps the colors to blend a bit: but don’t do it too much, or the drink will become all one color!

More about Malibu coconut rum

The Malibu Sunset is most likely named for Malibu Coconut Rum, the most common type of coconut rum on the market. The coconut is essential to the flavor of this tropical drink. Here’s what to know about Malibu:

  • Malibu coconut rum is actually a coconut-flavored liqueur made with rum. That’s right, it’s not really rum. Why is it a liqueur, not a spirit? Malibu has lots of added sugar and a low alcohol level: it’s only 21% ABV. In contrast, rum has no sugar and a 40% ABV.
  • Malibu coconut rum was launched in 1982 as a way for bartenders to simplify making the Piña Colada. It’s the most popular brand on the market, but there are others like Bacardi, Capitan Morgan, and so forth.
  • More with Malibu? Go to Malibu Drinks to Try, like the Bahama Mama, Malibu and Pineapple, and more.
Coconut rum

Want to try a variation on the Malibu Sunset? Opt for the Bahama Mama instead! The Bahama Mama is a popular beach drink that’s very similar to the Malibu Sunset, but it adds dark rum and swaps orange juice for lime juice.

We like to serve our Bahama Mama frozen, so it’s an icy blender frozen drink. But you can also serve it on the rocks, with the gradient effect just like a Malibu Sunset. Head to that recipe for more details.

Bahama Mama

More rum drinks

The Malibu Sunset is a deliciously refreshing beachy drink that works for anytime: summer, poolside, or a signature drink for a summer dinner party. Here are a few more tasty summery rum drinks to try:

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Malibu Sunset

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x


The Malibu Sunset is a deliciously tropical layered drink with brilliant colors of a sunset! It’s easy to make and the effect is stunning.


  • 2 ounces* coconut rum (like Malibu)
  • 2 ounces pineapple juice
  • 2 ounces orange juice
  • ½ ounce grenadine
  • Ice, for serving (try clear ice)
  • For the garnish: drink umbrella, orange slice, and cocktail cherry


  1. Add ice to highball or hurricane glass. Add the coconut rum, then slowly pour orange juice followed by the pineapple juice.
  2. Pour the grenadine into center of the drink and it will sink to the bottom. Stir gently for the sunset gradient effect. Garnish with a drink umbrella, orange slice and a cocktail cherry.


*To convert to tablespoons, 1 ounce = 2 tablespoons

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Poured
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Malibu sunset, Malibu sunset drink

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. So I tried it with the Captain Morgan and it worked out wonderfully!! I don’t think it took away from the visually stunning aspect, but it was a just a tad bit darker from the darker rum.. I also made my own grenadine from the cherry juice.. It was SO GOOD!! Everyone loved the kick of the drink and how fruity it tasted. I wish I could post a picture, it really was a beautiful sunset drink!! Thanks so much!! My friend loved the birthday drinks!!

    1. Oh btw, I added the Captain Morgan right before the grenadine.. In case anyone else wants to try it this way

  2. Can I add Captain Morgan to this recipe along with the Malibu rum for extra kick? I love the spiciness of Captain Morgan.. Would it still be as visually stunning??

      1. Awesome!! I’m making this drink tomorrow for a friend’s birthday.. I’ll let you know how it works out!!