Tequila Sunrise – Original Recipe & History

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Tequila Sunrise (1930s Recipe)

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Course: DrinksCuisine: American






Total time



Learn how to make the original tequila sunrise.


  • 2/3 oz 20 ml Lime Juice

  • 2/3 oz 20 ml Creme De Cassis

  • 1.5 oz 45 ml Silver Tequila

  • 5 oz 150 ml Soda Water


  • Technique: Tiki Dirty Pour
  • Combine all ingredients, except for the soda water, into a shaker with crushed ice.
  • Vigorously shake the shaker for 10 seconds.
  • Dirty pour the whole shaker into a glass. Crushed ice and all.
  • Top the drink off with soda water.
  • Garnish:
  • Squeezed lime hull

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The History Of The Tequila Sunrise.

The Original tequila sunrise is commonly believed to be invented by Gene Sulit in the 1930s at the Biltmore Hotel in Pheonix, Arizona. The Original Biltmore Hotel tequila sunrise is entirely different from the orange juice one most are familiar with. The recipe most are familiar with is the 1970s Trident Hotel recipe. In my opinion, the original Biltmore hotel recipe is delicious and superior to the Trident recipe.

The original tequila sunrise recipe was not widely published from what I can find, but I did find a recipe for it in the 1972 edition of the Trader Vic’s Bartender guide. That recipe is slightly different from the one I have here, but it is still structurally a collins and has creme de cassis as the sweetener and soda water as the lengthener. The more common orange juice version by Trident was invented around the 1970s. The bartender credited with creating this newer version was Bob Lozoff. In an ad for Jose Cuervo, bob stated the tequila sunrise was too complicated for them to make, so they made their own variation of tequila, orange juice, and grenadine. I’m not sure if he literally means it was too hard to make it, or he instead means maybe the creme de cassis was hard to keep stock, which I could see being an issue. But if that is the case, why change the soda water to orange juice, and why not just give it a different name? Who knows.

What Does The Tequila Sunrise Taste Like?

The original Biltmore Hotel tequila sunrise recipe is fantastic. It is so much better than the orange juice one. It tastes like a jolly rancher and is sweet, tart, and refreshing. It’s so easy to drink a couple of these, and I’m a little sad I only just learned of this great classic.

Recipe Resources

Tools Used:

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3 responses to “Tequila Sunrise – Original Recipe & History”

  1. […] 1948 Bartenders Guide as the Mexican El Diablo cocktail. It appears to be a variation of the original 1930s Tequila Sunrise with ginger beer replacing the soda water. In his 1972 edition of his Bartender’s Guide that […]

  2. Jorden Brotherton Avatar
    Jorden Brotherton

    The hotel is called The Biltmore. https://www.arizonabiltmore.com/

    1. Oh man. That must have been autocorrect. Thank you! I’m going to fix it right now.

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