To say that I’ve never gotten drunk off of Tequila Sunrises before would be a lie, but to say that I enjoyed drinking them would also be dishonest. Kitsch is in when it comes to cocktails, and over the past several years, a whole slough of once cloyingly-sweet retro drinks (Singapore Slings, Brandy Alexanders, Grasshoppers) have been tweaked and finessed to find their way onto respectable cocktail menus across the globe. Somehow, the Tequila Sunrise missed this boat and only seems to make an appearance at bars who rely on orange juice concentrate and high-fructose syrups to make this stupidly simple, three-ingredient cocktail. And don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and a place for drinks like these. I’ve spent more nights than I’d like to admit karaoke-ing from a sugar-high induced, liquid courage and enjoyed every minute of it. But with a few simple swap outs of fresh ingredients, the Tequila Sunrise can be refreshing and downright delicious.
The modern iteration of the cocktail is said to have its origins at a bar in Sausalito called The Trident in the early 70s, named for its signature pink and orange graduation—a result of grenadine being poured on top of the cocktail, cascading and eventually sinking to the bottom of the glass, reminiscent of a California sunset. Making your own grenadine gives this drink the biggest upgrade and takes a matter of minutes. Along with fresh-squeezed orange juice, a quality Tequila, and the addition of lime juice to balance out the sweetness, and I promise this drink will be added into your regular rotation.
How to make a Tequila Sunrise:
1.5 oz Tequila (Pick a Tequila you’d drink on its own, but you don’t want something too funky or smoky here. I prefer to use a Blanco Tequila.)
2 oz orange juice (fresh is best)
1/2 oz lime juice
3/4 oz grenadine*
*Make the grenadine:
Heat equal parts pomegranate juice (the POM Wonderful brand is easy to find and good quality) and sugar in a saucepan over low heat until the sugar is dissolved.
Make the Tequila Sunrise:
Shake the tequila, orange juice, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into an ice filled glass. Slowly pour grenadine over the top of the drink—it should sink right to the bottom. Garnish with a bright red maraschino cherry or an orange slice. Reusable swizzle sticks and cocktail umbrellas encouraged.