Key West Cooler Cocktail Recipe

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Key West Cooler Nutrition Facts





Alcohol %:~10

Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 16, 2024


The Key West Cooler is a vibrant and tropical cocktail that takes inspiration from the laid-back lifestyle and picturesque sunsets of Key West, Florida. It's a favorite among those who enjoy fruity and sweet drinks.

  • Origins: The cocktail's origins are somewhat murky, but it's believed to have been concocted in the 1980s during the rise of colorful and creative cocktails.
  • Popularity: It gained popularity for its refreshing taste and visual appeal, reminiscent of a Floridian sunset.
  • Audience: It's particularly beloved by beach-goers and those looking for a vacation in a glass.

How Key West Cooler Tastes?

The Key West Cooler offers a sweet and fruity flavor profile with a tropical twist, thanks to the coconut rum and melon liqueur. It's a light and refreshing drink with a subtle kick from the vodka.

Interesting facts about Key West Cooler

  • The Key West Cooler is often associated with beach parties and summer gatherings.
  • Its colorful layers can mimic the hues of a sunset, making it a visually appealing choice for social media posts.
  • The cocktail's name pays homage to the southernmost point of the continental United States, Key West, known for its coral reefs and diving spots.


A few good options for Key West Cooler are:

  • Grey Goose
  • Belvedere
  • Khor
  • Smirnoff

Learn everything on which Vodka to choose


Vodka is the chameleon of the spirits world, blending seamlessly to let the other ingredient flavors shine. At half an ounce, it's just enough to give a kick without turning this drink into a knockout punch. Omit it, and you'll lose the cocktail's backbone — after all, you can't build a house without a good foundation, right?

Mary Mitkina

Malibu Coconut Rum

This rum whispers tropical beaches and sun-kissed skin. It brings a coconut sweetness that's crucial for the Key West vibe. Too much, and you might as well be drinking sunscreen; too little, and where's the beach party at?

Emma Rose

Archers Peach Schnapps

Now, the peach schnapps is like that pop of color in a room of neutral tones — necessary to brighten the mood. It adds a fruity sweetness that plays well with the coconut and melon. Take it away, and the cocktail will surely miss a beat.

Alex Green

Midori Melon Liqueur

Midori lives up to its name, ‘green’, offering a burst of melon that truly defines the tropical palette. Half an ounce ensures the cocktail doesn't stray into overly sweet territory, where no cocktail wants to be marooned.

Mary Mitkina

Cranberry Juice

Cranberry juice adds both tartness and color, giving the cocktail depth and preventing it from being a one-note samba of sweetness. It's like the friend who's honest with you — sometimes a little sour, but always appreciated.

Emma Rose

Orange Juice

Orange juice is the morning sunshine in your drink, blending perfectly and rounding out the sharper notes. Without it, the drink could feel incomplete, like a tropical vacation without the sun.

Alex Green

Ice Cubes

Ice isn't just to cool it down; it's a mixer's best friend, ensuring every flavor has had a good mingle before the party starts. Go easy, though; nobody likes a watered-down chat.

Mary Mitkina

Orange Slice

The orange slice garnish isn't just for looks; it adds a fresh aroma and a hint of citrus when you sip. It's the cocktail's welcoming smile and should always be invited to the party.

Emma Rose

Recipe. How to make Key West Cooler Drink

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
  2. Pour 0.5 oz of vodka, 0.5 oz of Malibu coconut rum, 0.5 oz of Archers peach schnapps, and 0.5 oz of Midori melon liqueur into the shaker.
  3. Add 2 oz of cranberry juice and 2 oz of orange juice.
  4. Shake well until the outside of the shaker feels cold.
  5. Strain the mixture into a Collins glass filled 3/4 with ice cubes.
  6. Garnish with a slice of orange on the rim of the glass.

Pro Tips

  • Chill the Glass: Before serving, chill the Collins glass to keep the drink colder for longer.
  • Fresh Juices: Use fresh cranberry and orange juice for a brighter and more authentic flavor.
  • Garnish: A well-placed garnish not only adds to the visual appeal but can also enhance the aroma as you sip.

Perfect Pairings


  • Coconut shrimp: The sweetness of the coconut will complement the tropical vibe of the Key West Cooler.
  • Grilled chicken skewers: With a light marinade, these won't overpower the cocktail's fruity notes.
  • Ceviche: The citrus in the ceviche will match the orange juice in the cocktail.


  • Mango sorbet: A refreshing choice that echoes the fruity and tropical flavors.
  • Peach cobbler: Can play nicely with the peach schnapps in the drink.

General Pairing Tips

  • Aim for lighter fare, as heavy foods can overwhelm the cocktail's flavors. Ideally, foods with a hint of sweetness or tropical elements will pair best.

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What you could change in Key West Cooler

  • Vodka: Any quality vodka can be used if the preferred brand is unavailable.
  • Malibu Coconut Rum: Other brands of coconut rum can substitute Malibu if needed.
  • Midori Melon Liqueur: In the absence of Midori, another melon liqueur or melon-flavored syrup can be used, though the taste may vary slightly.

Explore all drinks starting with K here

And of course - twists🍹

The Sunset Cooler

  • Substitute orange juice with grapefruit juice for a tangier taste
  • Add a splash of grenadine to provide a beautiful gradient sunset color
  • Garnish with a cherry alongside the orange for added visual appeal

The flavor becomes slightly less sweet and more tart, reflecting the bittersweet end of a day in paradise.

The Island Breeze

  • Swap the cranberry juice for pineapple juice to enhance tropical notes
  • Include a splash of lime juice for some zesty zest appeal
  • Top with soda water for a sparkling version

This twist will make you feel like you're sipping your drink under a palm tree, with a more pronounced tropical twist.

The Green Pier

  • Replace Midori with Green Chartreuse for an herbal punch
  • Add a bit of fresh muddled mint

Changing to Chartreuse and mint, we infuse a sense of herbal freshness. It will make the drink more sophisticated and give it an earthy undertone, a nod to the green piers of Key West.

In case you forgot basics how to make Key West Cooler

Add your ingredients to the shaker first, then ice. Fill it up to ¾ of its capacity to ensure enough space for shaking. Hold the shaker with both hands (one on the top and one on the bottom) and shake vigorously. The shake should come from your shoulders, not your wrists.

Learn everything on how to shake

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on Key West Cooler

What type of glass is best for serving the Key West Cooler?

The Key West Cooler is traditionally served in a Collins glass, which is tall and narrow, perfect for ice-filled, refreshing cocktails.

Can the Key West Cooler be made into a non-alcoholic version?

Yes, you can create a mocktail version by omitting the alcoholic ingredients and using a combination of fruit juices and non-alcoholic substitutes that mimic the flavors of the original spirits.

How can I make my Key West Cooler less sweet?

To make your Key West Cooler less sweet, you can reduce the amount of fruit liqueurs and increase the proportion of citrus juices, or add a splash of soda water for a lighter taste.

Is the Key West Cooler considered a strong cocktail?

The Key West Cooler has a moderate alcohol content due to the mix of liqueurs and vodka. It's considered a light to medium-strength cocktail.

What's the best time of year to serve a Key West Cooler?

This tropical cocktail is perfect for summer months or any warm-weather gatherings, but can be enjoyed year-round whenever you desire a fruity and refreshing drink.

Are there any specific brands recommended for the spirits used in the Key West Cooler?

While specific brands are not essential, using well-known quality brands for vodka, coconut rum, peach schnapps, and melon liqueur is recommended for the best taste experience.

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