Tequila Sunrise is one of the classic cocktails, and it’s both beautiful and extremely simple to make. Here’s how to make your own Tequila Sunrise.
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What is Tequila Sunrise?
Tequila Sunrise is a tequila-based drink made long with orange juice and grenadine syrup. It’s one of the most loved cocktails, and it was wildly popular in the ’70s and early ’80s, mainly due to the ‘Tequila Sunrise’ song by the Eagles. It’s not just the catchy name that made this cocktail stick onto the classics list, it’s also the beautiful layers of orange and red, reminding you of a sunrise. Personally I’m leaning more towards a sunset, but that’s just me.
Tequila Sunrise Cocktail Recipe
- 2 oz tequila
- 4 oz orange juice
- 0.25 oz grenadine syrup
- Build in ice-filled Collin's glass.
- Pour in grenadine last, do not stir.
- Serve unstirred to preserve color.
- The grenadine will sink to the bottom and color the orange juice a little, creating a gradient from red to orange to very light orange (where the ice is).
- Do stir right before drinking, otherwise you'll get a mouthful of syrup.
When is this drink best ?
Tequila Sunrise works amazingly well as a summer cocktail, and I think it’s also great as an evening or late night one too. I could see this served at a pool party, on a peach, at a wedding, in a club, or even at your favorite restaurant. It’s a very beautiful cocktail and it’s sweet and flavorful enough to be in high demand.
My thoughts on Tequila Sunrise
I likes it a lot, I think the colors really help this drink feel like something very special. I like the way it looks when it’s not stirred, but I think it looks better when it’s just a little stirred, just enough to mix the grenadine into the lower part of the orange juice, but not enough that the entire drink is rad now.
I found the mix between fresh orange juice and grenadine to be very flavorful and, in my biased opinion, it reminded me a little bit of the sweetest red apples I ever had. Perhaps it was the flavor notes from the tequila that brought the apples to mind, but it’s definitely not a bad thing for me.
It also could’ve been the oranges I had. Perhaps sweeter oranges would’ve had a different flavor when mixed with the grenadine ? Regardless, I find the entire cocktail a beautiful and flavorful mix, and it’s not as sweet as you’d imagine. It’s sweet but not Pina Colada or Long Island Iced Tea sweet.
If you like Tequila Sunrise, you might also like…
Screwdriver – orange juice and vodka
Long Island Iced Tea – a mix of everything, with a party vibe
Paloma – a tequila and grapefruit cooler
Mexican Firing Squad – a tequila, grenadine, and bitters mix
Brass Monkey – a Screwdriver with added dark rum
Pomegranate Margarita – a Margarita with pomegranate juice
Rum Punch – a summery rum punch
Notes, substitutes, and tips
Tequila is noticeable enough in this, so it’s best to use a tequila you know and love. I used gold tequila, though you can use white if you like. If you use mezcal instead it might not go as well.
The whole point of Tequila Sunrise is to let the grenadine syrup do a gradient in the glass. So if you’re serving someone, hand it to them unstirred, and let them stir it themselves before they drink it.
A lot of ice helps with the gradient, since it’s part of the look. The many chunks of ice are best seen near the top of the glass, and with the orange juice they will look like fluffy white clouds.
You will find many recipes for Tequila Sunrise, and each calls for different amounts of grenadine syrup. The more you add, the stronger the red layer will be, and the stronger the grenadine flavor when you eventually mix the drink it. It’s a very personal choice and you can’t really go wrong with it.