The Tequila Sunrise cocktail, with its bright striations of color, evokes a summer sunrise. This classic drink has only three ingredients—tequila, grenadine, and orange juice—and is served unmixed to preserve the color of each layer.
The Tequila Sunrise was created in the early 1970s by Bobby Lozoff and Billy Rice at the Trident bar in Sausalito, California. The cocktail achieved notoriety after a member of the Rolling Stones—in some tellings it was Mick Jagger, while others have it as Keith Richards—tasted it at a party to kick off The Rolling Stones’ 1972 tour. The band began ordering it at stops across the country and even dubbed the tour “the cocaine and Tequila Sunrise tour,” which helped to propel the drink’s popularity.
In 1973, Jose Cuervo put the recipe on the back of its tequila bottles, and that same year, the Eagles released a song called “Tequila Sunrise” on their “Desperado” album. These infusions into popular culture resulted in the drink going mainstream, and it has been a part of the cocktail canon ever since.
The Tequila Sunrise is easy to make but must be constructed precisely in order to achieve the desired sunrise look. Tequila and then orange juice (fresh is best) are added to a highball glass filled with ice. Grenadine is applied last, but due to its density, it sinks to the bottom, creating a red layer at the base of the glass. If you want to spruce up the drink, skip the bottled bright-red grenadine available on store shelves and try making your own. It’s an easy exercise that’s worth the effort, as it imbues the cocktail with a richer flavor.
You don’t have to be a rock star to enjoy this tequila cocktail. It’s sweet, refreshing, and delicious, so mix one whenever the mood strikes. But putting on a Rolling Stones or Eagles record will really complete that ’70s vibe.
Click Play to See This Tequila Sunrise Recipe Come Together
2 ounces blanco tequila
4 ounces orange juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 ounce grenadine
Garnish: orange slice
Add the tequila and then the orange juice to a chilled highball glass filled with ice.
Top with the grenadine, which will sink to the bottom of the glass, creating a layered effect.
Garnish with an orange slice and a cherry.
What Kind of Tequila is Best for a Tequila Sunrise?
The Tequila Sunrise recipe calls for an un-aged blanco tequila. The fresh, bright notes of blanco tequila generally work best for cocktails with citrus juice as it will blend in well and highlight some of the same vibrant flavors. That being said, there are some reposados that can add some earthy, complex undertones and bring out some tropical flavors in your Tequila Sunrise. This may also render a slightly sweeter cocktail.