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The Tequila Sunrise is a cocktail that just screams summer sun and beaches with its yellow and orange colours and delicious taste.  It can even be a tequila cocktail for those who aren’t mad on the spirit because the strong tasting components mask the spirit somewhat.


The first version of the Tequila Sunrise was created in the Arizona Biltmore Hotel by Gene Sulit in the 1930s.  It consisted of tequila, crème de cassis, soda water and lime juice.

The version most cocktail lovers will recognise swapped some of those ingredients and makes use of orange juice and grenadine.  It was created by Bobby Lazoff and Billy Rice in the early 1970s when the pair were working as bartenders at The Trident in Sausalito, California.  They created the adapted version of the drink at a party organised by Bill Graham to start of the 1972 Rolling Stones tour and lead singer Mick Jagger took a liking to it.

Tequila Sunrise cocktail

Tequila Sunrise cocktail – By Evan Swigart from Chicago, USA (Tequila Sunrise) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The recipe was picked up in 1973 by Jose Cuervo and they began highlighting the cocktail on the back of their new tequila bottles, along with other advertising.  It even inspired the song by The Eagles called Tequila Sunrise.

Making the drink

The Tequila Sunrise is typically served as a long drink in either a highball or a Collins glass.  The tequila and ice are added to the glass, then the orange juice and finally the grenadine, as this sinks to the bottom of the glass to give the characteristic look.  This means adding the syrup gently and some mixers add it over the back of a spoon to ensure this.  The recognised ratio of the IBA is 4.5 cl or 3 parts tequila to 9cl or 6 parts orange juice and 1.5cl or 1 part grenadine.

There have also been a host of other ‘sunrise’ drinks using different ingredients but the same basic principles.  These include:

  • Aperol sunrise – using Aperol orange liqueur in place of grenadine
  • Tequila sunset – using blackberry brandy or dark rum for grenadine
  • Caribbean sunrise – rum in place of tequila
  • Vodka or Russian Sunrise – vodka in place of tequila
  • Southern sunrise – Southern Comfort in place of tequila
  • Astronaut sunrise – using Tang in place of orange juice
  • Amaretto sunrise – using Disaronno amaretto in place of tequila
  • Florida sunrise – using equal measures of pineapple juice and orange juice
  • Red sea sunrise – non-alcoholic version using lemonade or sprite in place of tequila
  • Enamorada sunrise – using Campari in place of grenadine
  • Colorado sunrise – using Captain Morgan and Sunny Delight in place of tequila and orange juice
  • Bequia sunrise – using Union Jake’s Honey Brandy in place of tequila