So when I ask you what is in a Tequila Sunrise, what comes to mind? Let me guess, the hit song by the Eagles or the adult libation made with tequila, orange juice and grenadine, right? Most of us, including myself, tend to think of the classic cocktail that was created in California in the early 1970’s. What would you say if I told you that what you have been drinking is not the original recipe? Like most cocktails that have been modified from their original recipes, the Tequila Sunrise was first created in Arizona in the late 1930’s/early1940’s at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix and is much different that what most of us are used to drinking. I, for one, have never been a fan of the mainstream version but am a huge fan of the original. Made with silver tequila, fresh lime juice, Creme de Cassis and soda water, it is much cleaner (and leaner). I have never been a fan of super sweet drinks and can honestly say that I have never actually had a modern Tequila Sunrise except for maybe when I was 21.
I actually came across the original recipe well over a year ago when I was researching American classic cocktails for a new restaurant opening. My idea was to feature new spins on old classics and when I learned about the history and story behind this legendary drink, I was intrigued. As a champagne lover, Creme de Cassis has always been a favorite (hello Kir Royale) and I love using it in various cocktails. If you are not familiar, Creme de Cassis is a black currant liquor and blends beautifully with spirits. With all of my research, I learned that this drink was created by bartender Gene Sulit, at the famous Arizona Biltmore Hotel, after a guest asked him to make a refreshing tequila drink that could be enjoyed poolside. Whether this is true or not, I love this variation and am excited to share it with you.
I decided to go with Milagro Select Barrel Reserve Silver which is triple-distilled in small batches from 100% estate-grown blue agave. What I love about this tequila, in comparison to the majority of silver tequilas, is that after distillation, it is then mellowed in French white oak barrels for approximately 35 days, thus resulting in a beautiful sipping tequila that’s perfectly balanced and full-bodied. Once blended with the fresh lime juice, Creme de Cassis and soda water, I added a nice Florida orange wedge. Perfect for sipping outside on a warm day, this version of the Tequila Sunrise is sure to put a smile on your face.
- 1 ¼ oz. premium blanco Tequila (I used Milagro Select Barrel Reserve Silver)
- ¾ oz. Crème de Cassis (I used Bols Creme de Cassis)
- Soda water
- Juice of half a fresh lime
- Orange or lime wheel, for garnish
- Fill a collins glass with ice. Add Tequila, Crème de Cassis and a squeeze of lime. Top with soda and stir gently. Garnish with a lime or orange wedge.