Of all the classic cocktails, a Tequila Sunrise has to be the prettiest of them all. This picture perfect cocktail was made for beaches, poolsides, brunches, and the cutest tiny paper umbrellas you can find.
Looking for gorgeous cocktail ideas? A cool, minty Mojito might be nice. Or how about an icy cool pitcher of Strawberry Margaritas, or Mexico’s famous Paloma Cocktail? All of them are fabulously easy, and absolutely refreshing, all summer long. See more drink ideas, including some great non-alcoholic options, here.
Most easy Tequila Sunrise recipes are pretty to look at, but can fall short in the flavor department, making for an overly sweet drink. Not this one! Lime juice and an optional splash of seltzer punch up the cocktail into a serious contender for Best Summer Drink Ever.
Making Tequila Sunrises for a huge summer blowout? Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
The fun and interesting history of the Tequila Sunrise:
Long before the Eagles ever came up with the song, The Rolling Stones actually might have been responsible for making this cocktail so popular. The famous version of the drink was first served in Sausalito in the 1970s, created by bartenders Bobby Lozoff and Billy Rice. In 1972, Mick Jagger tried it at a party and liked it so much, that the band ordered it everywhere they played in the United States. This created quite a sensation, and made tequila infinitely more popular nation wide.
Today the IBA (International Bartenders Association) claim the Tequila Sunrise as their official drink. Just another reason why this cocktail is worth a revisit.
Tequila Sunrise ingredients:
Most common recipes for Tequila Sunrise cocktails involve just three ingredients: tequila, orange juice, and grenadine. However, a little fresh lime juice and some soda water really go a long way to brighten the flavors of the drink. No matter which version you care to make, here’s what you need:
- Tequila. Silver, Anejo, Reposado, it all works. 100% agave is best.
- Orange Juice. Freshly squeezed, if you can. It really makes a huge difference in a simple cocktail like the Tequila Sunrise.
- Grenadine. That little bottle of red, sugary maraschino cherry syrup that is part of a well-stocked bar? You’ll need it for the sunrise part. The syrup sinks to the bottom of the glass, giving the cocktail a rosy hue and some sweetness.
- Lime Juice. Purely optional, but oh, so amazing. Tequila and lime are best buds.
- Soda or Seltzer Water. If you’re wondering what soda to mix with tequila, look for an unsweetened, bubbly soda. Optional, but lightens the drink up from syrupy to ahhh, refreshing!
- Orange Slice and Cherry. This is the classic garnish duo for the cocktail, but feel free to garnish with whatever you like: lime wedges, luxardo maraschino cherries, tiny paper umbrellas…
How to make a Tequila Sunrise:
- First, in a highball glass filled with ice, pour in the tequila, lime juice, and orange juice. Then give everything a good stir.
- Now for the magic. Slowly pour the grenadine into the glass over the back of a spoon or by drizzling it down the side of the glass, allowing it to settle at the bottom. Don’t stir! You want the drink to look like a sunrise.
If you like, top with seltzer to lighten things up. Finally, garnish with an orange slice and maraschino cherry.
What’s a Tequila Sunset, and what’s the difference?
Basically, Tequila Sunset is a variation of the Tequila Sunrise. This one is a little confusing, though, because there are a few different recipes for it floating around.
Some recipes for a Tequila Sunset use grapefruit juice instead of orange juice.
Other recipes call for raspberry Chambord, crème de cacao, or even blackberry brandy drizzled over the drink instead of cherry grenadine, giving the drink a darker, purplish hue that resembles a sunset.
Whatever the true recipe, it’s obvious that people love tequila and want to enjoy it, no matter what!
Tequila Sunrise Recipe
- 1 1/2 ounces tequila
- 1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice optional
- 4 ounces orange juice
- 1/2 ounce grenadine
- Seltzer water optional
- Half orange slice and maraschino cherry for garnish
- Fill a collins glass (or other tall glass) with ice. Add tequila, lime juice (if using), and orange juice. Stir.
- Pour grenadine down a spoon and let it rise from the bottom of the glass. Do not stir. Top with seltzer water (if using) and garnish with the orange slice and maraschino cherry.