The sight of red grenadine syrup rising from the bottom of a tall glass filled with orange juice and an orange slice garnish on its rim is irresistible, especially on a hot summer day. And for good reasons. Yes! It's a tequila sunrise cocktail.
The sweet tropical flavors with agave notes in the background are sure to excite your taste buds any time of the day. And if you are discovering tequila drinks, then this is a great place to start. Read on and learn the classic tequila sunrise cocktail recipe and other popular variations.
Classic Tequila Sunrise Cocktail Recipe
To make the perfect tequila sunrise, you need the following ingredients:
- Two ounces of 100% agave tequila
- Four ounces of fresh orange juice
- Half an ounce of grenadine syrup
- Ice cubes
- An orange wheel and maraschino cherry
Please note that there are variations to this recipe and that you can use alternative ingredients and still end up with a great blue agave drink. For instance, if you cannot get freshly squeezed orange juice, you can pick a bottled version from the store. Also, don't feel the pressure to break the bank for a pricy bottle of tequila reposado.
It would be awesome if you could get a bottle of Don Julio Reposado or Clase Azul Reposado Tequila, but if you are working on a tight budget, you can go for a cheaper option. The idea is to have fun with what you can afford.
How to Make a Tequila Sunrise
The good news is that you don't have to be a professional mixologist such as Dale DeGroff to make a world-class tequila sunrise. While we don't discredit the expertise of expert bartenders, you will notice that preparing this cocktail is super easy.
Start by gathering and preparing the above ingredients. If you wish to use fresh orange juice, get about three to four oranges and squeeze them to extract the juice. Fill a highball glass with ice cubes and add 2oz of tequila followed by 4oz of the orange juice and stir well.
Add the grenadine slowly around the edge of the glass. Its high density allows it to sink to the bottom of the glass and then begin to rise. This effect creates a beautiful sunrise effect. Take care not to splash or stir the grenadine. Otherwise, you will not have the desired outcome. Now use the orange wheel and maraschino cherry to garnish your cocktail. Serve your guests and enjoy the cocktail.
Tequila Sunrise Variants
As mentioned earlier, if you lack some of the ingredients mentioned above, you can get creative and substitute them. For instance, common alternatives for orange juice include pineapple, citrus, and passion juices. You can also change the serving glasses and how you mix the ingredients. This way, you add a twist to the final variant of the cocktail explained below.
1. Tequila Sunset
The tequila sunset is one of the popular variants of tequila mixed drinks with diverse recipes. To some, it's okay to use the same ingredients as with the sunrise, only that they will blend the grenadine syrup with soda water to make it lighter. Another option is to use blackberry brandy instead of diluted grenadine syrup. When they add it to the tequila and orange juice mixture on rocks, it remains at the top.
In this case, you will create a sunset ambiance with the red hue at the top and the bright yellow shade at the bottom of the glass. Still, others opt to use tequila and pineapple juice instead of orange juice or both. And guess what? These are not the only options you can try. Here's another recipe to satisfy your curiosity.
Start by crushing ice cubes and put them in your Collins glass. Mix one shot of tequila 100% blue agave tequila blanco or reposado with 4 ounces orange juice and pour the mixture into the glass. Now trickle the booze with 0.5 ounces of Creme de Cacao and garnish with an orange slice. Unlike the grenadine syrup that sinks to the bottom of the glass, the Creme de Cacao remains at the top. You can also use pomegranate molasses as a substitute for Creme de Cacao.
2. Spicy tequila sunrise
This drink is nothing short of what the name suggests - spicy. Here you use the same ingredients for making a classic tequila sunrise cocktail and slices of jalapeno pepper for the spicy flavor. To prepare this, drink, pour the tequila and orange juice into a shaker full of ice cubes. Add three jalapeno pepper slices and shake the mixture for about ten seconds to infuse the peppery hot flavor into the drink.
Take a Collins or highball glass and fill it with ice cubes. Now strain the spicy mixture and add it to sparkling ice cubes. Slowly pour the grenadine syrup into the bright yellow drink and allow it to sink to the bottom. Garnish the cocktail with two slices of jalapeno and an orange wheel. Now, sit back and sip your refreshing peppery hot drink by the pool to cool off the summer heat.
3. Slushy Tequila Sunrise
If you fancy slushy cocktails, then you will love this drink. The good thing you don't need different ingredients from those of the classic tequila sunrise. Just add the tequila, orange juice, and ice cubes to a blender. Now blend them briefly to get a slushy consistency. Add the grenadine to the glass and then gently pour the slushy mixture into the glass. Garnish your drink with an orange wheel or strawberry slices. As the grenadine works its way through the icy drink, it will create the sunrise effect to brighten your party.
4. Tequila Sunrise Margarita
Time to get more creative with the classic tequila sunrise recipe and add a margarita twist to it. Instead of using four ounces of orange juice, use one ounce. Substitute the three ounces with 0.5 oz of Triple Sec and o.5 oz of lime juice.
Prepare a mixture of salt and sugar, rim your glass with a lime wedge, then dip it in the salt-sugar mixture. This move will leave salt and sugar crystals on the rim. Put the liquids in a shaker and add ice cubes. Shake the mixture for 10 to 15 seconds.
Now, strain the drink, carefully pour it into your glass, and add more ice cubes. Add 0.5 oz of grenadine gently around the inner walls of the glass, and garnish the drink with a maraschino cherry and lime wheel.
Tequila Sunrise History
The facts about the first bartender to create the first tequila sunrise are hazy, with conflicting stories crediting this cocktail invention to different persons. Some believe that it was Gene Sulit who made the original version of this cocktail while bartending at an Arizona Biltmore Hotel between the 1930s and 1940s.
Another story attributes the invention of this drink to Bobby Lozoff and Billy Rice in the 1970s. Many believe that it was these two bartenders who popularized the use of tequila and orange juice to make this cocktail. Also, the Jose Cuervo brand played a significant role in popularizing this cocktail by printing its recipe on its tequila bottles.
Tequila sunrise is in the sweet category of tequila cocktails. The sweet and tart flavor from grenadine syrup combines with the citrus taste of the orange to give you a burst of tropical fruity notes. If you use 100% blue agave tequila, you will still trace strong agave notes infused in the cocktail for an authentic tequila taste. The drink's flavor may change as you experiment with different variations, but you can be sure to enjoy it.
Possible Food Pairing Options
Just like any other tequila drink, tequila sunrise can be served with Mexican cuisines such as shrimp or avocado tacos. The drink is also a great accompaniment for seafood, chicken curry, and lamb kebab, just to mention a few. It is also a great pick especially if you struggle to drink tequila straight up. It is important to mention that this is a great drink you can entertain quest with during home parties at any time of the day.
My first-time encounter with this cocktail was a refreshing and welcome departure from the burning session that comes with sipping tequilas straight up. The sweet flavors of the fresh orange juice and grenadine syrup drowned alcohol's potency.
The drink is also quite inviting, especially on a hot summer day. It is hard to resist a second glass. The only problem with this is that you can drink more alcohol without noticing it. So, be warned!
I also found the cocktail easy to make in my home bar and a great way to entertain my friends when they come calling.
Processed juices and sweeteners may have more calories than fresh juices. Therefore, confirm the nutritional value of every ingredient when making various versions of this cocktail to avoid taking more calories than you want to.
Tequila sunrise is one of the popular agave cocktails after the margaritas, and for good reasons. The drink is very inviting and has a refreshing flavor. It also easy to prepare, and you can serve it to your guests at any time of the day.
It's also important to mention that you can pair tequila sunrise with a wide range of meals and thus a great alternative to wine and rum. With so many ways to make this tequila cocktail, which one standout for you? Feel free to take up the challenge and put your mixologist skills to the test.