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The Sea Breeze cocktail is a classic highball that’s easy to make! Starring vodka, cranberry, and grapefruit on lots of ice, it’s ultra refreshing.

Sea breeze cocktail
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Want a drink that’s laid-back, tart and refreshing? Look no further than the Sea Breeze cocktail! It tastes just like its name: light, breezy, and all about no-frills vibes. It’s perfect for happy hour with friends, a light brunch drink, or a little evening nightcap. Or mix up a big pitcher for a garden party or a weekend at the lake. Really anything goes here! It’s low alcohol cocktail that’s low calorie, too. Here’s how to make this zingy classic cocktail.

Want more mixed drinks? Here are all the great cocktails you should know.

Sea breeze drink

What’s in a Sea Breeze cocktail?

A Sea Breeze couldn’t be easier to make. (Ok, a vodka cranberry is even easier…but we’ll get to that later.) It’s a totally unpretentious highball cocktail: a drink with liquor and a larger portion of non-alcoholic mixer. Interestingly, it’s classic alcoholic drink that makes the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails! Here’s the official formula for how to make a sea breeze cocktail:

  • Vodka
  • Cranberry juice
  • Grapefruit juice

All these ingredients are served on the rocks, or with crushed ice. You’ll simply mix them all together with a bar spoon: no cocktail shaker needed! While a highball glass (tall, thin glass) is most common for a highball cocktail, you can use any glass you like.

History of the Sea Breeze

The Sea Breeze was invented in the 1920’s. Back then, it looked a little from the version we have today. The first Sea Breeze used gin and grenadine! It went through a few transformations until a company called Ocean Breeze came along in the 1950’s. You know, the cranberry company?

Yep, the Sea Breeze cocktail was re-vamped to contain cranberry juice by Ocean Spray itself! Great marketing ploy, right? They used this drink to market cranberry juice as a mixer with alcohol…and we’re still doing it today.

Sea breeze cranberry drink

There’s a whole family of cranberry cocktail recipes related to the Sea Breeze! Here are the most popular in the family:

  • Cape Codder: Also known as a Vodka Cranberry, this is the simplest cranberry drink: cranberry juice and vodka.
  • Madras: The Madras cocktail uses cranberry juice, vodka and orange juice.
  • Bay Breeze: The Bay Breeze uses cranberry juice, vodka and pineapple juice.
  • Cosmo: The Cosmopolitan features cranberry juice, Cointreau and lemon juice.
  • Rum & Cranberry: The Rum & Cranberry uses rum, Cointreau and lime juice

Love grapefruit cocktails? Try the Greyhound, Salty Dog Cocktail, Paloma, Hemingway Daiquiri, or Brown Derby.

Sea breeze cocktail recipe
We used clear ice to dress up this Sea Breeze! It’s perfect for cocktails.

Important: use unsweetened cranberry juice!

While most traditional versions of a Sea Breeze use sweetened cranberry juice, this recipe uses 100% cranberry juice! Here’s the thing: cranberry juice is unsweetened: it tastes tart and is labeled as “100% juice.” Cranberry juice cocktail is sweetened, often with high-fructose corn syrup. Most cranberry cocktail recipes call for cranberry juice, but they really mean “cranberry juice cocktail.” So why use unsweetened juice here?

  • It has less sugar. Use 100% juice and the drink has less sugar overall.
  • You can customize the sweetness, and make it naturally sweet. To balance the flavor, add back sweetness to the drink. Add either maple syrup or simple syrup. Alex and I like using maple syrup because it provides a gentler sweetness.
  • The color is brighter. The color is bright pink because 100% juice has a deeper color.
Cranberry grapefruit cocktail recipe

When to serve a Sea Breeze cocktail

This Sea Breeze cocktail is no-frills and festive. It’s great as a:

  • Summer drink
  • Bridal shower drink or bachelorette party drink
  • Girls night drink
  • Gender reveal party drink (a fantastic pink drink!)
  • Happy hour drink
  • Dinner party drink
  • Brunch drink (Mother’s Day, etc)
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Sea breeze cocktail

Classic Sea Breeze Cocktail

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


The Sea Breeze cocktail is a classic highball that’s easy to make! Starring vodka, cranberry, and grapefruit on lots of ice, it’s ultra refreshing.


  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) vodka
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) grapefruit juice
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup or simple syrup (see note)*
  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) 100% unsweetened cranberry juice (not sweetened or cranberry cocktail)
  • 1 lime wedge


  1. In a glass, pour in the vodka, grapefruit juice and syrup and stir with bar spoon. Add ice.
  2. Pour in the cranberry juice and squeeze the lime wedge on top. Taste and add additional syrup if you want it sweeter.


*If all you can find is sweetened cranberry juice / cranberry juice cocktail, omit the syrup.

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Cocktails

More classic cocktails

Here are a few more of our best classic cocktails you might also enjoy:

  • Tom Collins Another highball, this popular gin cocktail that’s light, sweet tart, and bubbly!
  • Classic Mojito Perfectly balanced with lime, rum and fresh mint! This iconic Cuban cocktail is refreshing and just sweet enough.
  • Southside Cocktail An easy and refreshing gin drink made with mint, lemon and lime: think of it like a gin mojito. Or try the Southside Fizz, the bubbly version in a highball glass!
  • Tequila Sunrise This popular highball cocktail stars tequila, grenadine and orange juice as the colors of a summer sunrise.

Last updated: May 2020

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 and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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