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What Is the History of the Tequila Sunrise?
The original Tequila Sunrise, a combination of tequila, crème de cassis, lime juice, and soda water, was invented by bartender Gene Sulit in Phoenix at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel. The more well-known version of Tequila Sunrise—tequila, orange juice, and grenadine—was first developed in the 1970s at the Trident bar in Sausalito, California by bartenders Bobby Lozoff and Billy Rice.
When the Rolling Stones kicked off their 1972 American tour with a party at the Trident, Mick Jagger and his bandmates became huge fans of the Tequila Sunrise. As the band toured America, Mick Jagger popularized the cocktail, frequently ordering it at bars along the way. The cocktail was further immortalized in the collective psyche of the era via The Eagles’ 1973 song, “Tequila Sunrise.” Thus, the orange juice version of the Tequila Sunrise came to be a classic cocktail.
How to Make the Best Tequila Sunrise
The Tequila Sunrise is a simple cocktail with just three basic ingredients, so the quality of your ingredients makes a huge difference in the flavor of the drink:
- Orange juice: For a more elevated drinking experience, try using freshly squeezed orange juice.
- Tequila: Use a light or white (blanco) tequila to preserve the bright colors of the drink and to let the flavors of the orange juice and grenadine shine. There’s no need to use a more expensive añejo or reposado tequila, which would alter the color of the cocktail slightly.
- Grenadine: Commercial grenadine has a bright-red color that makes a lovely Tequila Sunrise, but nothing beats the flavor of homemade. You can make your own grenadine syrup by reducing pomegranate juice with sugar until it reaches a syrupy consistency. To make a Tequila Sunset, substitute the grenadine for blackberry brandy.
Classic Tequila Sunrise Recipe
Prep Time5 min
Total Time5 min
- 1½ ounce tequila
- 3 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
- ½ ounce grenadine
- Orange slice, to garnish
- Maraschino cherry, to garnish
- Pour tequila and orange juice directly into a tall glass (such as a Collins glass or highball glass) filled with ice cubes and stir to combine.
- Tilt the glass and pour the grenadine slowly into the drink, down the inside of the glass. Allow the grenadine sink to the bottom of the glass for a sunrise effect.
- Garnish with orange and cherry.
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