How to Make a Tequila Sunset: Tequila Sunrise with Grapefruit Juice

Tequila Sunset

Whether you’re on vacation or sitting in the backyard on warm summer nights, a delicious tequila sunset or sunrise cocktail usually does the trick.  

I’ve been working in bars for many years.  When I’m at work and behind the bar, I love coming up with new cocktail recipes for people to try.  

But when I want to relax and hang out with my family and friends, I’m all about making simple cocktails with a few ingredients.  I am going to show you how to make a Tequila Sunset.  This classic cocktail is a variation of the Tequila Sunrise which has an interesting past.

History of the Tequila Sunrise

This popular drink has a history that dates back to the 1930s.  They say it originated at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel and was invented by a guy named Gene Sulit.  Originally it was made with tequila, club soda, lime juice and liqueur. 

Over the years it made its way to Northern California and was reinvented by a couple guys, Bobby Lozoff and Billy Rice, working at the Trident Bar in Sausalito. This happened in the 1970s.  

The new tequila sunset recipe added some additional color with orange juice and grenadine. The orange juice layer topped with the red hue of the grenadine goes perfectly with the drink’s name.  The colors of the drink look like a Mexican sunrise. 

The new variation of the Tequila Sunrise gained a lot of popularity.  It didn’t hurt that the Eagles wrote a song titled Tequila Sunrise.  There have been many spin offs of the Tequila Sunrise and the Tequila Sunset is one of them.

The Tequila Sunset and the Tequila Sunrise are both a really easy cocktail to make. Let’s get started!



The Key Ingredients to Make a Tequila Sunrise



Obviously we are going to need tequila to make this cocktail recipe.  You can use a silver tequila for this drink.  A couple suggestions would be Olmeca Altos Tequila, Jose Cuervo, Espalon or 1800 Tequila.


Orange Juice or Grapefruit Juice

In a Tequila Sunrise you will use orange juice.  In a Tequila Sunset you will use grapefruit juice. The juice you use will impact the flavor of the drink. I prefer a high quality fresh orange juice or grapefruit juice because it’s usually a little sweeter.  

A store bought brand is totally fine, but a tart orange juice or grapefruit juice will be a main differentiator in the taste.


Your typical Rose’s Grenadine syrup is perfect.


This drink is served on the rock so you need some ice cubes.


A thin orange slice is the perfect garnish for a Tequila Sunrise.  A slice of grapefruit is perfect for the Tequila Sunset.

How to Make a Tequila Sunset or Tequila Sunrise

Start off by filling a tall glass with ice cubes.  A Collins glass or a highball glass are great options.

Next, add 1 1/2 ounces of Tequila and 3 ounces of juice to the glass.

Now add a 1/2 ounce of grenadine to the top of the drink over the tequila and juice.  Don’t stir or shake it!  You want the grenadine to sink to the bottom of the glass.  

The red layer at the bottom will be separate from the orange of the juice.  The striated colors will give a beautiful sunset effect with the bright red and orange showing through the side of the glass.

Now you know how to make a Tequila Sunset and a Tequila Sunrise Cocktail! They are both the perfect drink.  

Have one by the beach or on rainy days when you need a little sunshine in your life.

Other Variations of the Tequila Sunrise

Now you know that the Tequila Sunset cocktail is basically a Tequila Sunrise with grapefruit juice instead of orange juice.

You can also add a little blackberry brandy or Chambord to the cocktail.

There are also some Italian recipes that use Campari such as the Italian Sunrise and Tuscan Sunrise.

A Pineapple Sunrise substitutes pineapple juice for the orange juice.  This is a great drink for pineapple lovers.

The Eastern Sunrise is one of the Chinese recipes and has rum, orange juice, lychee juice, pineapple juice and grenadine.

A Mexican Sunrise is when you drink a Corona down to the top of the label and add tequila, orange juice and grenadine.

Now that you know how to make a Tequila Sunrise and a Tequila Sunset, you’re ready to go.  Let me know how it turns out. 

If you’re in Newport, stop by the Protective Club and have a cocktail with us!

Tequila Sunset

Tequila Sunset Recipe

Scott Kelleher
Whether you're on vacation or sitting in the backyard on warm summer nights, a delicious tequila cocktail usually does the trick.


  • 1/2 ounce Tequila
  • 3 ounces Grapefruit Juice
  • 1/ ounce Grenadine


  • Fill a tall glass with ice.
  • Add tequila and juice.
  • Add a 1/2 ounce of grenadine to the top of the drink over the tequila and juice. Don't stir or shake it! You want the grenadine to sink to the bottom of the glass.
  • Garnish with a slice of grapefruit.
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