This recipe for a tequila sunrise is sweet and smooth, requires only three ingredients, and has the gorgeous color gradient of a summer sunrise! Pair them with margarita cookies for an awesome summer combo.
It’s not often that I order a fruity drink at a bar. My default is a French 75 cocktail, and aside from that, I look for a dry Riesling. Or if I’m at a place that has its own brew, I’ll order a lighter-style beer like a hefeweizen or a blonde ale (and no, it’s not because I’m blonde).
But fruity drinks? Rarely at the top of my list. However, I will make an exception for a tequila sunrise. This freaking drink, you guys. I almost hate how much I love these things.
What makes this the best tequila sunrise recipe?
I’m so glad that you asked. I don’t know if you’ve ever had one before, but a really good tequila sunrise tastes just like juice and goes down so smoothly.
And for me, the key is quality ingredients. That’s it.
There’s no shaking or stirring, no need for a simple syrup.
Just quality tequila that you know you enjoy the flavor of, pulp-free orange juice (freshly squeezed if you can!), and grenadine.
What’s in a tequila sunrise?
It’s only three ingredients:
- Tequila – You can use whatever brand of tequila you prefer, but my personal advice to you is to use a gold tequila, and not use something like Sauza Blue Silver because it has additional fruit flavor notes that won’t give you the classic tequila sunrise flavor.
- Orange juice – Smooth, pulp-free, quality orange juice. If you’re able to use freshly-squeezed orange juice, that’s even better!
- Grenadine – There are various levels of quality out there, from an inexpensive choice like Rose’s grenadine in a plastic bottle to more high-end brands like Luxardo grenadine syrup in glass. They’ll all work, but since this cocktail is only three ingredients, you’ll really taste it and I would recommend higher-quality grenadine.
How to make a tequila sunrise
In these photos, I’m actually using these 12 ounce Collins glasses from Crate and Barrel that we got as wedding gifts. If you’re going to use a 12-ounce sized glass, you may want to only fill it 1/2 way with ice to leave a little more room for the ingredients.
Step 1: You’ll start with a highball glass filled 3/4 of the way with ice cubes, and pour in your tequila.
Step 2: Next up, the orange juice. You want it to be smooth and pulp-free.
Step 3: Add the grenadine. I usually pour it slowly in a zigzag motion so that it’s not straight down the middle, but you can also get fancy with it.
Step 4: Observe your gorgeous cocktail. JUST LOOK AT THOSE COLORS.
How to pour grenadine in a tequila sunrise
This will work best when you have some room in the top of the glass, and not if it’s nearly filled to the brim. Because that’s basically just asking for nice blood-red grenadine all over everything and no I’m not speaking from experience, shush.
Turn a spoon upside down and place it inside the glass, with the tip of the spoon resting against the inside edge of the glass (or at least near the edge) – right above the top of your existing liquid.
From the opposite side of where you’re holding the spoon, pour the grenadine as slowly as possible over the back of the spoon, moving the spoon up the side of the glass as the liquid level rises.
Orange slices and maraschino cherries are a must-have garnish. Okay, so I guess technically that means there are five ingredients.
The first thing I do is shove the cherry and the orange slice into the drink so they soak up all the flavors, and I save them to eat at the end. I also might be known to add a crapload of cherries when I make them myself because I do what I want.
What is special about Luxardo cherries?
These photos show regular maraschino cherries, but I don’t know if you know this – there are these expensive, fancy cherries out there called Luxardo Gourmet Maraschino Cherries (aff link).
There’s a big difference in quality. Luxardo cherries have no corn syrup, no thickening agents, and no preservatives. They’re so rich with flavor that it shows in their color – they’re much darker, almost a purpleish black color. At a glance, they look like olives.
They’re definitely worth the extra money for the quality, but if you’re trying to save money, bright red cheap cherries it is.
Side note: Please don’t put olives in your tequila sunrise, because that sounds beyond terrible.
Make sure to serve these with coasters or cocktail napkins, because the outside of the glasses are going to get a good amount of condensation.
I know that goes for basically any drink with ice in it, but I’m very concerned with the well-being of your tequila sunrise because it’s just too pretty to slip out of your hands and onto the floor. I’m pretty sure that’s against some sort of wasting-a-pretty-drink law… somewhere.
Behind the Scenes
If you ever wonder what kind of nonsensical setup I have to shoot these photos, here’s a look at what it was for this recipe. The light was coming in the east side of the house, and I needed there to not be cat fur all over the set.
The only place in the house on that side where I can close a door to keep the cats out is the pantry, which is a very narrow room. In that picture above, the shelves full of food are just barely offscreen to the left, so that gives you an idea of the width.
My husband was outside working on some landscaping around that oh-so-picturesque air conditioner unit, so when I was done I opened the window and asked if he wanted a drink.
He reached in, grabbed one, and then proceeded to chug both of those cocktails and get back to work. And while I don’t condone chugging an alcoholic drink, it is mostly juice.
Looking for snacks to pair with your tequila sunrise?
- Watermelon & Blackberry Mint Salad
- Grilled Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos by Whitney Bond
- Crunchy Pineapple Salsa by Hunger Thirst Play
- Tropical Chicken Cups by Foodal
- Mango Panna Cotta Coconut Cheesecake by Sugar Salt Magic
- Pina Colada Seven Layer Bars by Averie Cooks
- Hawaiian Haupia (Coconut Pudding) by Contemplating Sweets
- Coconut Lime Chiffon Cake by Life Made Simple
Not at all – 2 of the 3 ingredients are juice.
You can use whatever brand of tequila you prefer, but my personal advice to you is to use a gold tequila, and not use something like Sauza Blue Silver because it has additional fruit flavor notes that won’t give you the classic tequila sunrise flavor.
Nope. Grenadine is a red non-alcoholic syrup with a sweet and tart flavor, made from pomegranate juice.
Nope, there’s no alcohol in the syrup used for Luxardo cherries.
For my recipe, there are about 291 calories in each drink.
I personally do not because I love the appearance of the color gradient and layers in the glass. But if you’d prefer to ensure your drink has the flavors evenly distributed, you can give it a quick stir with a cocktail spoon.
After you’ve made this recipe, please consider coming back to share your experience with others by leaving a comment below with a star rating!
- 4 ounces tequila, divided
- 1 ½ cups orange juice, pulp-free and divided
- 2 ounces grenadine syrup, divided
- Orange slices and maraschino cherries, for garnish
- Fill two 16 ounce highball glasses 3/4 full with ice cubes.
- Add tequila and orange juice.4 ounces tequila1 1/2 cups orange juice
- Slowly add grenadine – it’s going to sink to the bottom to give you the gorgeous “sunset” gradient.2 ounces grenadine syrup
- Garnish each glass with an orange slice and maraschino cherry. Serve immediately, and enjoy!Orange slices and maraschino cherries
The provided nutrition information is generated by an automatic API and does not take variations across specific brands into account. This information is provided as a general guideline and should not be treated as official calculations. Learn more here.
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