How to Make a Sex on the Beach Drink—and 4 Ways to Kick it Up a Notch

Put your own creative spin on this popular ‘80s drink.

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With just one sip of a Sex on the Beach drink, you can be transported to the tropical beaches of Aruba, or the turquoise water off the coast of Bermuda. Aside from a frozen piña colada and strawberry daiquiri, a Sex on the Beach is one of the most quintessential vacation cocktails because it’s refreshing, sweet, and the perfect way to relax and unwind. 

Believe it or not, the creation of the Sex on the Beach cocktail was a happy accident. Back in 1987, a Florida-based bartender named Ted Pizio, was challenged to promote and sell as much peach schnapps as possible. He threw together a few ingredients he had behind the bar, and just like that, the Sex on the Beach was born.

How to Make a Sex on the Beach Drink

A classic Sex on the Beach cocktail calls for just four ingredients, plus ice and a fruit garnish. Here’s what you’ll need:


  • 1 ½ ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce peach schnapps
  • 2 ounces orange juice
  • 2 ounces cranberry juice or grenadine 
  • Ice
  • Orange slices and cherries, for garnish
  1. Grab a hurricane glass, or your most festive tall cocktail glass, and fill it with ice.
  2. To achieve that gorgeous sunset hue, pour the vodka, schnapps, and orange juice in first. Top with the cranberry juice.
  3. Garnish with an orange slice and cherry, or any tropical fruit you have at home. 

Sex on the Beach Drink Upgrades

There’s something incredibly nostalgic about a classic Sex on the Beach, but it’s also fun to explore different renditions of this well-known cocktail. Here are a few ways to shake up the traditional boozy beverage. 

Whip Up an On Manhattan Beach

This is a more upscale version of a Sex on the Beach—called On Manhattan Beach—that was created by Drew Record, a managing partner of Bon Vivants Hospitality in San Francisco. Over the last 15 years, Record has written over 100 cocktail menus, experimenting with different flavors and provisions. “When it comes to re-creating drinks from the '70s and '80s, all you have to do is tweak the serve or adjust the ingredients,” he shared.

To make an On Manhattan Beach, you'll need 1.5 ounces of vodka (such as Grey Goose), half an ounce of Creme de Peche or any fine French liqueur, a quarter of an ounce of Cointreau, and half an ounce of pure cranberry juice (the less sweet the better). Combine the ingredients over ice in a shaker tin, shake vigorously, strain, and serve in chilled martini glass. Garnish with an orange peel, if desired. 

Try a Sex on the Beach Slushie

Cool down with a frozen version of this tropical drink. Instead of shaking or stirring your ingredients, throw them in a blender with some ice and pour it in a fun glass with a tiny umbrella. You’ll instantly be in vacation mode. 

Opt for a Zero-Proof Version

The mocktail version of a Sex on the Beach is often referred to as Cuddles on the Beach, or Safe Sex on the Beach. All you need to do to create a zero-proof iteration is to replace the peach schnapps with fresh peach puree, and use club soda or sparkling water instead of vodka. The result is an equally delicious, slightly effervescent drink you can enjoy in Dry January and beyond.

Skip the Schnapps

If you’re not a fan of sweet drinks, you can cut the sugar by using peach-flavored vodka instead of schnapps. You can also look for sugar-free cranberry or orange juice to help mellow out the flavor. 

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