The Tequila Sunrise Cocktail Recipe

Posted in Tequila on March 7, 2014

Tequila Sunrise garnished with orange and cherry, shot on a white background.

The Tequila Sunrise is a very popular cocktail because it is spectacular in both taste and appearance. However, few people nowadays know that the Tequila Sunrise we are enjoying has little to do with the original recipe. The cocktail was first invented in the 30s or the 40s at the Arizona Baltimore Hotel. The original recipe included tequila, crème de cassis, lime juice and soda water. The name of the cocktail was inspired by the base drink and by the fact that the colors of the other ingredients combine into creating sunrise-like colors. In order to obtain this effect, the denser ingredient which is the crème de cassis needs to be poured in slowly in order to settle on the bottom of the glass and to create a color gradation. The ingredients in a Tequila Sunrise are never shaken and the wonderful colors have to be obtained solely by pouring the ingredients in the correct order.


The recipe invented at the Arizona Baltimore Hotel is rarely used nowadays. A later version was invented in the 70s at the Trident restaurant in California. This only includes tequila, orange juice and grenadine syrup, but it is equally spectacular. The grenadine acts just like the crème de cassis and settles on the bottom of the glass. Otherwise said, the amazing colors are obtained with only three ingredients. This is the version that is popular and famous nowadays.


The Tequila Sunrise is a very attractive cocktail. It is indeed sweet, but its aroma reveals gradually, as you are approaching the ingredients on the bottom of the glass.


How to Prepare the Tequila Sunrise


For making the orange juice version which is highly popular nowadays you need the following ingredients:


  • 2 oz. of tequila
  • 4 oz. of orange juice
  • ½ oz. of grenadine syrup
  • A maraschino cherry and an orange slice for garnish.


Put some ice cubes in a highball glass and pour the tequila and the orange juice. Stir them well and then add the grenadine slowly. Pour it around the inside edge of the glass in order for it to settle on the bottom of the glass and to naturally lift the other two ingredients. Garnish with the orange slice and the cherry without stirring anymore.


The Original Tequila Sunrise Recipe


If you want to also enjoy the first recipe of the Tequila Sunrise, here is what you need:


  • 1 ½ oz. of tequila.
  • The juice from half a lime.
  • ¾ oz. of crème de cassis.
  • Club soda.
  • A slice of lime and a maraschino cherry for garnish.


Put some ice in a Collins glass and add the tequila and lime juice. Fill the glass with club soda and then add the crème de cassis. This will act just like the grenadine and settle on the bottom. Garnish with the lime slice and the cherry.


Tequila Sunrise Variations


Are you in a mixing mood? Why don’t you try some of these variations?


  • The Tequila Sunset – it calls for dark rum or blackberry brandy instead of grenadine.
  • The Vodka Sunrises – it uses vodka instead of tequila.
  • The Florida Sunrise – uses equal parts of pineapple and orange juice instead of orange juice alone.
  • The Caribbean Sunrise – it replaces the tequila with rum.
  • The Aperol Sunrise – it uses Aperol instead of grenadine.
  • The Enamorada Sunrise – it uses Campari instead of grenadine.
  • The Amaretto Sunrise – it uses amaretto instead of tequila.
  • The Red Sea Sunrise – it is a non-alcoholic version in which the tequila is replaced with Sprite.


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