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Here’s how to make a tequila sunrise! This vibrant cocktail layers the colors of a summer sunrise using tequila, orange and grenadine.

Tequila sunrise

Wow, does this drink has the visual component nailed. If you want to impress, try this Tequila Sunrise! It’s beautiful and vibrant, with layered colors of a summer sunset. Here’s the best part: it’s so easy to make! All you need is 3 ingredients: and no special techniques or equipment! The flavor is refreshingly sweet, with just a hint of tequila. The instant Alex and I made it, we knew it would be a great signature drink for entertaining. It’s a great summer cocktail, but it works for anytime you want to conjure up the warmth of summer. Here’s how to make it!

What’s in a tequila sunrise?

The original version of a Tequila Sunrise was invented in the 1930’s, but that version had creme de cassis, lime and soda water: nothing like what it’s become today! The modern version of the drink was invented in the 1970’s at a hotel in California. The Tequila Sunrise is a cocktail that’s on the list of International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails. This means that there’s an “official” definition, which is:

  • Tequila
  • Orange juice
  • Grenadine
Tequila sunrise

Tequila sunrise variations

This drink is sweetly straightforward. I’m personally a fan of sour cocktails, so I like to add a squeeze of lime into mine to add more of a tart flavor. A dash of orange liqueur like Cointreau can give it a little more complexity.

You can also make a Tequila Sunset by substituting blackberry brandy for the grenadine. Make the drink with vodka for a Vodka Sunset, or try a Malibu Sunset using Malibu Coconut Rum.

How to make a tequila sunrise

Here’s the great part: it’s so easy to make this layered drink! Unlike some drink with layers like egg white cocktails or even our Bay Breeze cocktail, there is no secret here. Literally pour in the grenadine, and it settles to the bottom. Here are the basic steps (or scroll to the recipe below)

  • Mix: Stir together the tequila and orange juice with ice in a highball glass.
  • Pour: Pour in the grenadine and it settles to the bottom.

A few more orange juice cocktails? The Amaretto Stone Sour, Screwdriver, Fuzzy Navel, Harvey Wallbanger, Tequila Screwdriver, and of course the always popular Mimosa.

Grenadine syrup

What’s grenadine?

Grenadine is a sweet tart syrup used in cocktails that’s bright red in color. It’s made out of pomegranate juice! (The name comes from the French word for pomegranate, grenade.) Grenadine is easy to find at the grocery or liquor store, and it’s used in lots of drinks: famously in a non-alcoholic Shirley Temple! Other grenadine cocktails are pink drinks like the Clover Club and Singapore Sling.

You can make grenadine at home too: here’s How to Make Grenadine Syrup. It’s very easy: you’ll make juice out of pomegranate seeds, then simmer pomegranate juice with sugar until it thickens into a syrup. It’s got none of the additives or artificial colors of the store-bought version.


Best tequila for a tequila sunrise

Here’s the key to how to make a good tequila sunrise: buy a good tequila! A cocktail is only as good as the alcohol you use. Look for a mid-price range tequila, since the price is typically an indicator of quality.

You can use either tequila blanco (“new or not aged) or tequila reposado (aged) in this cocktail recipe. Since it’s a pretty straightforward beachy drink, we went with tequila blanco here. But, it would be even more interesting with tequila reposado: it adds subtle notes of vanilla and oak.

Tequila sunrise

Try clear ice for a stunning look!

If you want to take your tequila sunrise over the top, think ahead and make up a batch of our clear ice. You’ll need to think 24 hours in advance, but you can make a batch that will last for many drinks and store it in the freezer. All you need is 24 hours and a small cooler! It makes perfectly clear artisan style ice like you’d see in a fancy bar. Go to How to Make Clear Ice.

When to serve a tequila sunrise

The tequila sunrise cocktail is sweet and fruity, perfect for summer occasions. It’s perfect for sipping as a:

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Tequila sunrise

Tequila Sunrise

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x


Here’s how to make a tequila sunrise! This vibrant cocktail layers the colors of a summer sunrise using tequila, orange and grenadine.


  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) tequila
  • 4 ounces (½ cup) orange juice
  • ¾ ounce (1 ½ tablespoons) grenadine syrup (purchased or homemade)
  • Ice (try our clear ice!)
  • For the garnish: Cocktail cherry, orange slice


  1. Fill a highball glass with ice. Pour in the tequila and orange juice and stir.
  2. Pour the grenadine into center of the drink and it will sink to the bottom. Stir gently for sunrise gradient effect.
  3. Garnish with an orange slice and cocktail cherry.
  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Stirred
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Tequila sunrise

More tequila cocktails

There are so many great tequila cocktails! Here are some favorites:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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