• 2 ounces of tequila
  • 4 ounces (fill) of orange juice
  • 3/4 oz of grenadine (also listed as two dashes)

The tequila sunrise is served in a highball glass (about 8 ounces) (also found listed as a Collins glass with ice) that has been filled with ice (classic highball style). First pour the tequila into it and then fill with orange juice. The addition of the grenadine is done by tiling the glass slightly and pouring the grenadine down the inside of the glass. Doing this will allow the grenadine to move straight to the bottom of the drink at which point it will slowly rise up giving the sunrise appearance. Stir lightly and garnish with a cherry and or orange.

Some alternate forms of this drink include stirring the tequila and orange juice with crushed ice at which point it is strained into a cocktail glass to which ice cubes and grenadine are added. I have yet to see the tequila sunrise prepared in such a way.

The story I heard the other night sitting at a bar and exchanging drink trivia with the bartenders for the origins of the tequila sunrise (and upon looking for the story today - I found the same essence of the story).

One evening (and early morning), a bartender and friend where drinking in a bar to be discovered the next morning by the bar manager. Managers are typically concerned with profits and this one was most displeased to find a fair amount of those having been consumed. So, he asked the bartender why they were still there. The bartender couldn't have been too tipsy and quickly replied that he was looking to create a drink inspired by the view of the sunrise from the bar. Quickly he poured some tequila and orange juice and added just a bit of grenadine to it. The manager accepted the story and it has since become part of the mainstream drinks every bartender knows.
This origin of the drink is fairly reasonable and seems to be traced back to the west coast in the 1930s. Some claim that it is Mexican in origin though others say that its California all the way.
  • First off, this is a drink invented by a bartender. The technique and use of grenadine is not something that the home connoisseur would come up with. Furthermore, it requires a bit of understanding of the relative weights and viscosity of the different liquors.
  • The use of oranges points (especially in the early half of the century) seems to indicate either a Florida or California influence - certainly not a drink created in the Chicago or New York. Similarly, the use of tequila, was not that common except in the states bordering Mexico.
  • The date 1930's corresponds to the creation of several tequila drinks including the versions of the margarita. In the 1930s, tequila returned after suffering the depression (during the depression only 8 distilleries survived). This does return to pointing at a Mexican or border state (rather than Florida) for production.

Variants of the drink include

  • Arizona Sunrise:
    Adding a reasonable portion of lime juice to the existing Tequila Sunrise
  • Amaretto Sunrise:
    Use of Amaretto instead of tequila
  • Malibu Sunrise:
    Malibu rum instead of tequila
  • Midori Sunrise:
    Replacement of tequila with Midori
  • Triple Sec Sunrise:
    Three parts orange juice, 1 part triple sec, and then the grenadine
  • Vodka Sunrise:
    Essentially, a screwdriver with grenadine added
  • Whiting Sunset:
    Some of the tequila is replaced with vodka (2 oz vodka, 1 oz tequila)

Part of the Everything Bartender

A night chatting with bartenders

Here is a variant I stumbled upon one evening when we were all out of grenadine: the Chocolate Tequila Sunrise. Just use chocolate syrup instead of the grenadine - but make sure that it is warm or it won't dissolve right. It tastes a little like one of those Terry's Chocolate Orange things, only with less sugar and more drunken stupor.

Since its invention, I have also occasionally called it the Tequila Smogrise, or the Los Angeles Tequila Sunrise.

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