By Camper English
Even if I enjoyed having a Sex on the Beach (the drink), I would probably feel too embarrassed to order one in public. Luckily my aversion to peach schnapps precludes me from asking the bartender for a cocktail named after an uncomfortable erotic act. Seriously, have you tried it?
The Sex on the Beach was popular in the vodka-schnapps drink era of the 1980’s, as were cutesy-sexy cocktail names you never wanted to hear your parents order. We had the Fuzzy Navel, the Freddy Fudpucker, and the Slow Comfortable Screw. Sadly, these drinks seem almost quaint now as many cocktail names have become downright dirty. One online drink database lists 327 drinks with the word ‘sex’ in the name, and there are probably seven cocktails named for every position in the Kama Sutra.
Luckily, not many of these drinks make it into popular circulation, and the ones that do are generally served in nightclubs where commanding the bartender to give you a Reverse Cowgirl ends well whether it’s served in a glass or in the back of the coat check room.
Overly cute cocktail names are only slightly better. One bartender friend makes every drink a ridiculous pun that makes you feel like a fool for requesting. The worst was the Cardamom My Dearest. (If you don’t get that reference you may not be this publication’s target audience.)
Some drinks have the wrong name entirely, which only bothers cocktail dorks like me. I get huffy when cocktails are called a flavor of Martini- Chocolate Martini, Apple Martini, Orange Martini, whatever. I have a theory that this naming schema was popularized during the late 1990’s dot-com boom when every job title changed to superlative like ‘diva’ or ‘guru’ whether or not they were deserved. You had the mailroom guru and the accounts payable diva getting together for a Death by Chocolate Martini.
These not-really Martinis are usually vodka plus a flavored liqueur with a splash of fruit juice and a slathering of sugar on the rim, so I suppose they do belong in the same category as each other – just not, in my opinion, in the Martini category.
When I create cocktails, which is more often than I’ll admit in polite company, I try to name them sensibly so I can remember what’s in them the next day. I’ll make a Strawberry Mojito or a Fizzy Lemon Daiquiri and be done with it. But if my new drink doesn’t closely resemble another one, I’ll try to use an acronym for the ingredients – like the COP with cognac, orange liqueur, and pear. The problem with the Sex on the Beach is that its ingredients – vodka, orange juice, peach schnapps, and cranberry – don’t spell a word no matter how you arrange the letters VOPC.
Then again, neither does LGBT, and we all know what the ingredients are in that. Maybe we should consider re-branding ourselves like an easy-to-pronounce drink instead – it could be a great PR move. People will whisper, “Is it true that he’s really ‘Pink Delicious?'”