Granted its a shallow name for a sickly sweet cocktail designed to get the girls drunk, but someone mentioned something that really caught my attention. They claimed that the sex-on-the-beach cocktail was invented by bartenders in Miami Beach, Florida during the (first) William Kennedy Smith rape trial back in 1991. As the story goes Smith and the woman he met at a bar took a walk on the beach where the alleged rape took place. Smith was acquitted of all charges, but in the media storm that surrounded the proceedings much hay was made about the drunken state of the woman and bartenders began serving this drink as sick little play on the cultural obsession of the moment.

Does anybody know if this is true. I am hoping against hope that it is not. I wrote a recipe for this drink and I’m tempted to delete it — or at least rewrite it as a Shirley Temple.

Re: Sex-on-the-beach

It seems to me that much can be learned about a society in any given point in time by the names it produces for its cocktails. Let’s hope that the early 1990’s have more to say for itself than this.

Re: Sex-on-the-beach


I like this cocktail too and was horrified to read about the possible connection to the Kennedy Smith trial. I remember the drink being a favorite of yuppies in the early 80’s, so you can rest assured that the drink preceded the crime.


Re: Sex-on-the-beach

Wasn’t there a “sex on the beach” cocktail in the 1988 movie Cocktail? I am not certain, but I remember seeing that movie when I was still using padded shoulders in my jackets and I think that was when I first tried a sex on the beach. I never could flip a bottle like Tom, though.

Re: Sex-on-the-beach

I turned to my favorite writer on the subject of cocktails, Eric Felten of the Wall Street Journal. If you haven’t seen his column I highly suggest you check out the WSJ food and drink section site every Saturday when his column is published.

After some quick research, Mr. Felten assures me that although he has not nailed down the exact origin of the drink, he did find a New York Times article about the Long Island nightclub scene in 1989, which specifies that the drink of choice in those days was Sex on the Beach.

So at the very least, we know that the drink preceded the Will Kennedy Smith incident by a couple of years.

Re: Sex-on-the-beach

The earliest known invention of the cocktail and its name dates back to 1987 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Republic National Distributor (National Distribution at the time) had just begun to sell a new product, peach schnapps, in the fall. With the influx of tourism coming shortly for spring break, National devised a contest that would pay the bar that sold the most peach schnapps a bonus of $1000 and the bartender that was responsible at that bar for the highest sales of schnapps would receive $100. A young bartender named Ted Pizio working at Confetti’s mixed peach schnapps, vodka, orange juice and grenadine. When Pizio began to sell the sweet and tasty beverage, he was soon asked what it was called. On the spot, Pizio thought what the reason was that thousands of people came to Ft. Lauderdale for spring break was: The Beach and Sex. “Sex on the Beach!” he replied, and as the drink gained fame that spring, thousands of college students returned to their areas of the country and asked their local bartenders for Sex on the Beach. Obviously, the bartenders had no idea how to make a drink they had never heard of so they asked what it looked like and what it tasted like, which to this day has led to the numerous regional variations of the famous drink recipe.

Re: Sex-on-the-beach

That’s brilliant Freddy! Thanks for your reply. Your comment makes perfect sense. Hats off to Ted Pizo for coming up with a cocktail name that captures both the glory and the horror of the 1980’s.