With a refreshingly sweet mix of tequila, orange juice, and grenadine, this tequila sunrise is an iconic cocktail that’s perfect for sipping in warm weather.

This post contains affiliate links. Read the disclosure policy.

Two prepared glasses of tequila sunrise with orange slices and cherries as garnish.

About Tequila Sunrise

A simple cocktail with three key ingredients, this tequila sunrise is a refreshingly sweet cocktail with eye-catching color.

What is a tequila sunrise?

First created by Gene Sulit of the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, a tequila sunrise is a mix of tequila, orange juice, and grenadine. The tequila and orange juice are poured together (much like a screwdriver) but then the drink is topped with a splash of grenadine. The sugar content of grenadine is thicker than the orange juice and tequila, causing the grenadine to slowly link to the bottom of the glass. This is what creates the iconic red-to-orange gradient “sunrise” of the drink.

Which tequila should you use?

This recipe calls for silver tequila (also called tequila blanco), with the main characteristic being that it’s completely clear, like vodka or water. It’s a type of tequila that’s bottled directly after being distilled, so it is rarely aged.

As far as what to look for, any silver tequila between the $20-$40 range should be a good fit for this drink. An opened bottle of tequila can last up to a year, so you have plenty of time to take advantage of the bottle.

For mixed drinks like this, I personally like to use Patron. It’s a decent tequila with a taste that compliments most mixed drinks. Plus, you can usually find a bottle of it in just the size that you need.

Side view of two prepared glasses of tequila sunrise, showing off the gradient color that starts bright read at the bottom and becomes bright orange near the rim.

Can you make a big pitcher of Tequila Sunrise?

Technically, yes, you can – but for this particular drink, I either wouldn’t recommend it or you would need to make some adjustments in how the drink is served.

The problem: A tequila sunrise is popular because of the gradient effect it creates in the glass, looking like a deep orange sunrise. This is because the grenadine sinks to the bottom of the glass. And in order to maintain this classic look, the drink shouldn’t be disturbed (stirred, poured, etc) after the grenadine has been added.

The possible solutions:

  • Mix a big batch of the main two ingredients (tequila and orange juice) then add a splash of grenadine into each drink that’s poured.
  • Don’t worry about the color and just mix everything in a big pitcher.

So if you’re dead set on whipping up a big batch of this drink, and have decided on which of the two options above works best for you, all you need now is to measure the drink in parts.

Recipes that measure in parts usually mean it’s written so that you can adjust the size of the drink to whatever you want. The measurements they give you (1 part, 1/2 part, etc) are so you can keep the ratio of the ingredients correct.

For example, let’s say you wanted to make one drink – this typically means you’re using 1 standard shot glass for measuring. So then when the recipe says “1 part” you would interpret that amount as “1 standard shot glass” full. If the recipe says “1/2 part” you’d fill the shot glass halfway so that it’s “1/2 standard shot glass.” OR, let’s say you wanted to make enough drinks for a few friends. When making the drink you could interpret “1 part” as “1 cup” (or “1/2 part” to “1/2 cup.”)

Given the above, to measure a tequila sunrise in parts, you would need:

  • 4 parts silver tequila
  • 8 parts orange juice
  • 1 part grenadine

Keep in mind that the above measurements are for mixing the whole drink together in a pitcher. If you would prefer to mix the tequila and orange together while serving a splash of grenadine per glass, be sure to adjust your drink-making accordingly.

Hand holding a glass of tequila sunrise.

Can you make this drink in advance?

Technically, yes, you can – but with some adjustments:

  • For best results, mix the tequila and orange juice together by themselves (no ice) and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve (up to 24 hours).
  • When ready to drink, add ice to a glass and then pour the tequila and orange mixture on top. Finish with a dash of grenadine.

If you’re making a large pitcher of tequila sunrise (be sure to see other notes on this page about this) you would follow the same steps: mix tequila and orange juice, store it without ice for up to 24 hours, and wait to add grenadine until serving.

Notes & tips for tequila sunrise

  • Once the grenadine has been added to the drink, do not stir it or disturb the contents before serving; doing so will ruin the gradient effect. Plus, part of the fun of this drink is experiencing the waves of different flavors.
Top down view of a prepared tequila sunrise, showing off cherries and orange slice.

More delicious drinks

How to make a tequila sunrise

This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.

Step 1 – In a tall glass filled with ice, start off by pouring in the tequila and orange juice.

Step 2 – Add a splash of grenadine.

Step 3 – Garnish with maraschino cherries and orange slices.

Step 4 – Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Details

Two prepared glasses of tequila sunrise with orange slices and cherries as garnish.
5 from 1 vote

Tequila Sunrise

5 mins prep
220 kcal
Yields: 1 drink
With a refreshingly sweet mix of tequila, orange juice, and grenadine, this tequila sunrise is an iconic cocktail that's perfect for sipping in warm weather.

Ingredients 

Instructions

  • Fill a tall glass 3/4 of the way with ice.
  • Pour tequila and orange juice over the ice, then top with grenadine. Do not mix.
    2 ounce silver tequila, 4 ounce orange juice, 1/2 ounce grenadine
  • Garnish the glass with orange slices and maraschino cherries (optional).
    orange slices, maraschino cherries
  • Serve immediately.

Nutrition

Serving: 1drink | Calories: 220kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 6mg | Potassium: 232mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 16g | Vitamin A: 227IU | Vitamin C: 57mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 1mg

I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.

Author: Chrisy