The Tequila Sunrise Cocktail

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The Tequila Sunrise Cocktail is a very popular long drink perfect for hot summer days thanks to its refreshing qualities and fruity flavors. The cocktail can be prepared in two ways, but there are many other variations as well, which change the alcohol composition, or even that of its liquid companions. This mixed drink was invented by Gene Sulit at the bar of the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, some time during the 1930s-1940s.

Tequila Sunrise Cocktail Tequila Sunrise Cocktail picture

The name of the cocktail was suggested to its inventor by the drink’s final colors, which reminded him of a sunrise. As the denser ingredients of the drink settle on the bottom of the glass, the lighter ones stay at the surface and form a layered composition in the orange and yellow colors of the sunrise. The original version of the Tequila Sunrise cocktail, the one invented by Gene Sulit, contains the following ingredients: tequila, creme de cassis, soda water and lime juice. The other version, which is much more popular, contains ingredients like tequila, grenadine syrup and orange juice. It was invented by Billy Rice and Bobby Lazoff in the 1970s at the Trident restaurant, located in Sausalito, California.

Because it is considered a long drink in the official International Bartenders’ Association list, the Tequila Sunrise cocktail is usually served in a highball glass. However, you may find it in various types of glasses depending on the location. Here is how this mixed drink is usually prepared, and the ingredient quantities:

  • 45 ml tequila
  • 90 ml orange juice
  • 15 ml grenadine juice

You take the highball glass and fill it with ice, and then you pour the tequila and the orange juice over it. The next step is to pour the grenadine juice gently, and wait for it to settle on the bottom of the glass. Under any circumstances you mustn’t stir the mixture, otherwise the whole gradual effect of the drink is lost, and you can no longer call it a Tequila Sunrise. The glass can be garnished with a slice of orange, a maraschino cherry, or even a slice of lime. Finally, here are some of the variations of Tequila Sunrise cocktail which you can have:

  • Tequila Sunset – the grenadine is replaced by dark rum or blackberry brandy;
  • Vodka Sunrise – The tequila is replaced by vodka;
  • Southern Sunrise – Southern Comfort instead of tequila;
  • Astronaut Sunrise – the orange juice is replaced by Tang;
  • Florida Sunrise – the same amounts of orange juice and pineapple juice are used;
  • Red Sea Sunrise – tequila is replaced by Sprite or lemonade in this non-alcoholic version;
  • Enamorada Sunrise – the grenadine syrup is replaced by Campari.


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