The Liquor Cabinet

Tequila Sunrise

A Tequila Sunrise drink is timeless. Here’s how to make a Tequila Sunrise, the trick to getting that sunset hue in the ingredients (and a cool back story)!

Tequila Sunrise

It may look like your typical resort cocktail developed on a desert island, but the Tequila Sunrise has a surprising rockstar background. One evocative tale of its creation is a balmy night in 1972, when the Rolling Stones came to San Diego in search of post-concert kicks. When Mick Jagger asked the Bobby Lozoff, the bartender, to make him a Margarita, Lozoff offered something a little different – a concoction of tequila, sweet and sour, orange juice, crème de cassis and the final flourish: a shot of grenadine, which sank to the bottom and created a sunrise effect. Over time, the ingredients became more simplified without losing any of its dramatic effect, happily.


As we look back to classic ‘70s cocktails to celebrate our 50th birthday, here’s a classic Tequila Sunrise recipe for you to try.

How to make a Tequila Sunrise



  • 60mL Tequila
  • 120ml Orange Juice
  • 10ml Grenadine
  • 2 dashes of Bitters
  • Orange wheel, to garnish
  • Maraschino cherry to garnish
  • Ice



  1. Fill a Tall Glass with Ice
  2. Add Tequila and the orange juice
  3. Top with the Grenadine, which will sink to the bottom to create a layered effect
  4. Garnish with Bitters, Orange wheel and maraschino cherry

Our top tip to maintain that red and orange hue? Use the back of a spoon to slowly pour the grenadine into the drink. It will help it sink to the bottom to create the “fire” of your sunrise. And whatever you do – don’t stir!

Getting Tequila Sunrise ingredients right

The typical Tequila Sunrise cocktail ingredients are tequila, orange juice and grenadine syrup, though additions and substitutions can be made depending on how confident you feel!


The biggest decision when it comes to making this cocktail is probably what tequila to use. Resposado tequila is a popular choice – generally aged from about two months to a year in oak barrels, it has a slight softness and roundness that will give your tequila sunrise a little less “bite”.


Tequila brands range from the affordable to super exclusive, all produced inside the Mexican state of Jalisco and made using the Blue Weber agave plant. Here are two of our picks of the best tequila at Liqorland for a Tequila Sunrise cocktail.


Jose Cuervo Especial Tequila
The original tequila used for the Tequila Sunrise (The Stones’ even named it their “official” rider when they toured), you can’t go wrong with this affordable bottle, with its notes of pepper and agave.


Vivir Tequila Reposado
A resposado tequila that’s been aged for six months and has notes of vanilla, caramel, and melted butter.

One reason that this cocktail can get a bad rap is if the ingredients used are made with a lot of added sugar. To combat this, make sure to use freshly-squeezed orange juice. You can even make your own grenadine syrup – just heat one part pomegranate juice with two parts sugar in a saucepan, cool, and bottle.

The Tequila Sunrise drink – with a twist

Think you’ve mastered the Tequila Sunrise? Try these adaptations for a fresh new spin on the Seventies classic:

‒ Swap orange juice for mango and add a dash of fresh lime for a citrus kick.

‒ Take it back to its original iteration in 1930s Arizona: swap grenadine for crème de cassis, OJ for fresh lime juice and soda.

‒ Don’t have any tequila in the house? Substitute white rum, making sure to add some citrus (fresh lime or citrus peel) to counteract the rum’s sweetness.

The Tequila Sunrise has evolved from an elegant poolside drink to a rockstar’s cocktail of choice; it’s even the name of a raucous tradition in Arizona, where bars open their doors at six in the morning to welcome students coming back to college.

From its rocker roots to its potential for adaptation, it’s time to give this this sunrise cocktail the attention it deserves.

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