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Tequila Sunrise Cocktail Recipe

Kick back and relax with a thirst-quenching tequila sunrise.

This fruity cocktail screams summer vibes. So you know you’re in for good times.

Tequila Sunrise Cocktail Recipe featuring Two Glasses Ombre Sunrise Tequila Garnished with Orange Slices and Maraschino Cherries and a Cutting Board with Orange Slices in the Back and a Bowl of Maraschino Cherries to the Side
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The tequila sunrise is a thing of beauty. The layered tequila, OJ, and grenadine look like a bright, tropical sunrise. 

And yes, it tastes as good as it looks!

Catch some rays and sip on one beachside. Or get the party started and have yourself a big backyard bash. 

You can whip it up at a moment’s notice. So, the tequila sunrise is ready to entertain at the drop of a dime.

Tequila Sunrise

Is there a cocktail more striking than a tequila sunrise? I think not! This ombre concoction is mesmerizing. 

First, mix a shot of tequila with refreshing orange juice. Then, add the signature touch, the grenadine. 

As it cascades down the glass, it looks like dawn breaking. It’s absolutely stunning!

Just like the presentation, the tequila sunrise has quite an intriguing history. 

It began around the 1930s at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel. 

Bartender Gene Sulit gets the credit. He created a drink with tequila, creme de cassis, soda water, and lime. 

So, it wasn’t quite like the cocktail we know today.

The current version and official IBA cocktail popped up in the 70s in Sausalito, California. 

Bartenders Bobby Lazoff and Billy Rice at The Trident are the ones to thank. Since then, the drink caught on and made some waves. 

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In 1972, the Rolling Stones had it at The Trident and fell in love with it. They even joked about naming their tour after it. 

Jose Cuervo slapped the recipe on the back of their 1973 bottles. The Eagles titled a song after it for their Desperado album. There was even a movie released in 1988 with its name. 

With street cred like that, you know it must be fabulous!

Two Tall Glasses of Refreshing Tequila Sunrise with Cherries and Orange Slices and a Bowl of Maraschino Cherries to the Side

Ingredients 

The tequila sunrise may have a long history, but it’s not a tall order. You only need three ingredients and a garnish.

This is what you need:

  • Ice- Clink, clink! Like many great cocktails, this one starts with the ice. Use fresh cubes.
  • Tequila- Blanco (unaged) tequila is standard. But if you prefer aged tequila, you can use that too. Just be sure to use a quality brand.
  • Orange Juice- Fresh OJ all the way! It makes a world of difference. Store-bought works, too. Choose a brand as natural as you can without all the added stuff.
  • Grenadine- For the signature sunset effect! As it sinks to the bottom, it infuses the drink with sweetness.
  • Fruit- An orange wheel and maraschino cherry are the signature garnish.

How to Make a Tequila Sunrise

Crafting this legendary tequila cocktail is so simple. Just follow these easy steps:

1. Mix. Pour tequila and orange juice into a highball glass with ice. Stir.

2. Pour. Slowly pour the grenadine down the side of the glass. Don’t stir!

3. Garnish. Add an orange wheel and a maraschino for a garnish.

4. Sip. Serve and enjoy!

Sunrise Tequila with Cherry and Orange Slice

Tips and Tricks

These tips and tricks can help you create the perfect tequila sunrise every time. 

  • Try different tequilas. Blanco tequila is traditional. The bright notes work well with the citrus. But feel free to experiment. Some reposado tequilas can bring earthy and tropical hints to your drink.
  • Pay attention to glassware. You want a tall glass like a highball glass. It will show off the sunrise effect. 
  • Tone down the sweetness. If you find it’s too sweet, add a twist of citrus. Lemon or lime can help balance it out.
  • Avoid stirring the grenadine. Once you mix it, you lose the layering effect. So it won’t look as striking.

Variations

Want more? Try these variations:

  • Original Tequila Sunrise: Mix tequila, lime juice, crème de cassis, and club soda. 
  • Tequila Sunset: Swap out the grenadine for blackberry brandy instead.
  • Vodka Sunset: Use vodka instead of tequila.
  • Malibu Sunset: Substitute tequila with Malibu rum. Yum! This is one of my favorite variations. 
  • Tequila Screwdriver: Leave out the grenadine.
  • Frozen Tequila Sunset Margarita: Add triple sec, sour mix, and the standard three ingredients. Then blend with ice.
  • Tequila Sunset Mocktail: Skip the tequila if you’re avoiding alcohol or it’s too early. You get a Virgin Sunrise- a refreshing, enhanced take on your regular orange juice.
Glass of Sunrise Tequila Garnished With Orange Slice and Cherry with Halved Oranges on a Cutting Board in the Background

What’s the Difference Between a Tequila Sunrise and a Tequila Sunset? 

Sometimes, the names tequila sunrise and tequila sunset are used interchangeably. Other times, they’re two different drinks. 

The difference is the ingredients used for the sunset effect. 

A tequila sunrise has grenadine cascading down the drink. A tequila sunset uses blackberry brandy.

Other versions of a tequila sunset also include a splash of soda water or pineapple juice. Some even swap out the orange juice for grapefruit juice.

Tequila Sunrise Cocktail Recipe

Servings

1

serving

This tequila sunrise is like a tropical getaway for your taste buds. And with only 4 ingredients, it’s easy to make and easier to enjoy. Perfect for parties.

Ingredients

  • Ice cubes

  • 2 ounces tequila

  • 4 ounces of freshly squeezed orange juice (enough to fill the glass)

  • 1/2 ounce grenadine

  • 1 orange wheel, for garnish

  • 1 maraschino cherry, for garnish

Instructions

  • Fill a highball glass with ice cubes. Pour the tequila and orange juice and stir until well-mixed.
  • Slowly pour the grenadine down the side of the glass. It will settle at the bottom, creating the sunrise effect. Avoid stirring after adding the grenadine to maintain the visual separation.
  • Place an orange wheel on the rim or side of the glass and drop a cherry into the drink.
  • Serve and enjoy!
Tequila Sunrise

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INSANELYGOOD

Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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