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The Tequila Sunrise – History & Recipes, 1970s and 1930s


The Tequila Sunrise is a classic cocktail that has recently fallen out of favour but can still bring a bit of colour and wow to your table. It is a simple, unmixed cocktail of tequila, orange juice, and grenadine syrup.

Its name comes from its appearance; by being unmixed, you end up with a drink reminiscent of a sunrise, grading from red to yellow in the glass, lending it a very retro feel.

The Tequila Sunrise originated in the 1970s, in Sausalito, California, created by bartenders Bobby Lozoff and Billy Rice at the Trident. Mick Jagger drank a Tequila Sunrise and was taken by it, encouraging his entourage to drink them with him. It went down so well that the 1972 Rolling Stones tour requested them across America.

The following year, Jose Cuervo added the recipe to the back of their Tequila bottles. As the drink became ever more popular, it started to embed itself into popular culture, with the Eagles recording their song, Tequila Sunrise for their album, Desperado and the 1998 Michelle Pfeifer, Mel Gibson and Kurt Russell film was named after the drink.

The earlier, original Tequila Sunrise is thought to have originated in the 1930s in Tijuana, Mexico, as evidenced in the drinks guide of the Agua Caliente resort of the time. A more subtle and classic effect is created without orange juice but with fresh lime and Crème de Cassis. This is one we love to serve.


The Tequila Sunrise (1970s)


  • 50ml Tequila Reposado

  • ½ lime – juice (15ml)

  • 1 Teaspoon of Grenadine (6ml)

  • 1 Teaspoon Crème de Cassis (3ml)

  • 25ml Orange Curaçao

  • 80ml Orange juice

  • Pinch of salt


  1. Add the cassis and grenadine to a highball filled with ice

  2. Add the other ingredients to a shaker, shake and slowly strain over the ice

  3. Garnish with a slice of fresh orange

The Original Tequila Sunrise (1930s)


  • 50ml Tequila Blanco

  • ½ lime – juice (15ml)

  • 1 Teaspoon of Grenadine (6ml)

  • ½ Teaspoon Crème de Cassis (3ml)

  • Soda

  • Pinch of salt


  1. Add the Tequila, Lime Juice, Grenadine, Cassis and pinch of salt into a highball

  2. Fill the highball with ice

  3. Top up with Soda

  4. Garnish with a fresh lime wedge

Tequila Sunrise Variations

You can go further, changing up the sunrise for flavours more to your taste! There are also variations with different spirits, but the Tequila variations are found below:

  • Aperol sunrise – Aperol orange liqueur replaces the grenadine

  • Tequila sunset – blackberry brandy replaces the grenadine

  • Panama sunrise – pineapple juice replaces the orange juice

  • Enamorada sunrise – Campari replaces the grenadine syrup

  • Florida sunrise – pineapple and orange juice mix instead of just orange juice

Of course, a substitution of Tequila with Mezcal and Tequila mix can give another variation, adding a smokier effect, and adding jalapeno, will kick it up even further, adding a kick. The Mezcal Sunrise hasn't really started doing the rounds yet, but maybe one day!

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