Using just a few ingredients to create colorful layers reminiscent of a summer sunrise, the Tequila Sunrise cocktail is both incredibly easy to make and strikingly beautiful. Perfect for sipping by the pool or backyard parties.
Easy, fruity, refreshing, and beautiful, it’s no wonder that a Tequila Sunrise drink is one of the most popular cocktails.
Tequila Sunrise Drink Origin
This drink has a colorful appearance and story behind it. It was created by bartenders Bobby Lozoff and Billy Rice in the 1970’s at the Trident bar in Sausalito, California. The drink gained major attention and popularity in 1973 after Jose Cuervo put the recipe on the back of its tequila bottles, the Eagles song “Tequila Sunrise” was released, and The Rolling Stones ordered it across the country during their tour that same year. It was, indeed, the rock and roll party drink! These events made the cocktail go mainstream and cemented its International Bartender Association’s inclusion.
The original Tequila Sunrise was served in the 1930’s, which consisted of crème de cassis (a sweet black currant liqueur), lime juice, and soda water. It was sparkling and light, with a dark purplish hue – nothing like the popular version today that includes orange juice and grenadine. I guess it didn’t have any rock and roll bands to help promote it. HA!
Tequila Sunrise Recipe
The modern and popular Tequila Sunrise cocktail has a gorgeous gradient, which echoes a summer sunrise and makes it so visually appealing. It’s refreshingly sweet and delicious. The official IBA Tequila Sunrise ingredients are Tequila, Orange juice, and Grenadine.
(Scroll below to the printable recipe card for details and measurements.)
- Tequila: Because the fruit flavors in this drink are prominent, you don’t need a high-end Tequila. But the key to a good cocktail is using something that you would enjoy drinking on its own. Silver, Anejo, Reposado all work fine. Use your favorite.
- Orange Juice: Ideally, freshly squeezed. With only a few ingredients, it does make a difference in this simple drink.
- Grenadine: This is pomegranate-flavored sugary syrup that adds sweetness and balances out the tart, acidic orange juice. Even though it’s non-alcoholic, grenadine is usually located in the liquor aisle in most grocery stores or near the club soda. It typically comes in a 12 ounce bottle. You can also substitute maraschino cherry juice for the grenadine.
- Lime Juice (optional): Just a little bit cuts the sweetness and makes the drink really pop. Tequila and lime love one another!
- Seltzer water (optional): This really makes the drink light and refreshing. Use unsweetened carbonated soda water.
How to Make a Tequila Sunrise
The Tequila Sunrise is incredibly easy to make, but needs to be executed in a specific way to create the “sunrise” look. Tequila, orange juice (and the lime juice, if using) are added to a Collins or highball glass with ice. Then pour grenadine down a spoon – it’s so thick and heavy that it will sink to the bottom, creating a red layer, and naturally rise back up, just like a sunrise. At this point, you can also top your drink off with some soda water, if desired. The key is to serve it unmixed so each layer stays intact. Stir it and you’ll end up with a pink drink.
Use Tall Glasses
- Virgin Sunrise: For a non-alcoholic version, simply leave out the tequila. My kids love it!
- Margarita Sunrise: Rim a tall glass with salt and lime. Pour grenadine in the glass. Blend together tequila, triple sec, orange juice, sour mix, and ice. Pour mixture over grenadine.
- Russian Sunrise: Substitute vodka for tequila.
- Malibu Sunrise: Substitute coconut rum for the tequila.
- Tequila Sunset: Substitute blackberry brandy for the grenadine, which will make the drink more purple and darker like a sunset. You can also swap out the orange juice for grapefruit juice.
- Make a a big batch! Serving a crowd and need a pitcher? Just simply increase the ingredients and retain the 1 part tequila to 2 parts orange juice (or do 3 parts orange juice if you don’t want the drinks to be too strong.) Either add the ice to the pitcher or individual glasses. Add grenadine to each glass.
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- 4 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
- 2 ounces tequila (Silver, Anejo, Reposado all work well)
- 1/2 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice , optional
- 1/2 ounce grenadine
- seltzer water , optional
- orange slice and maraschino cherry , for garnish
- Fill a tall Collins glass with ice.
- Add orange juice, tequila, and lime juice. Stir to combine.
- Slowly pour grenadine down a spoon and let it rise from the bottom of the glass. DO NOT STIR.
- Top with a little seltzer water, if desired.
- Garnish with the orange slice and maraschino cherry and enjoy!
- NOTE: For variations or serving a crowd, please refer to the full article.