Spotlight on Arizona’s Unofficial State Cocktail: The Tequila Sunrise

The Tequila Sunrise isn’t just a favorite cocktail order in Arizona. It was also one of the most popular cocktails of the 1970s, thanks to its ubiquitous support among some of the biggest rockers of the day. Here is the inside story of the drink that so many bartenders in Arizona have been mixing up for decades.

Roots of the Tequila Sunrise

Like most famous cocktails, the roots of the Tequila Sunrise are in question. The Arizona Biltmore Hotel claims to have invented the 1930s, but there is no independent evidence of their claim. The hotel’s version of the cocktail is different from what most people envision when they think of the drink. The Biltmore version calls for tequila, crème de cassis, lime juice, and soda water.

Another bar, called Agua Caliente, claims to have invented the drink in Tijauna in the 1930s. During the Prohibition years, people from Southern California would travel to Agua Caliente to order the drink. The recipe was similar to the Arizona Biltmore’s but added grenadine.

The Rolling Stones Take a Sip

A bar called Trident outside of San Francisco was a go-to stop for rockers in the late 60s and early 70s. Mick Jagger visited, and they made him their version of the Tequila Sunrise, which had no crème de cassis and instead had more grenadine. Jagger was a big fan and made the drink a staple of the Exile on Main Street tour—a tour that Keith Richards later said was unofficially known as the Cocaine and Tequila Sunrise tour. The Eagles named dropped the drink in a song, and it was forever linked to 70s rockers and their fans.

Resurgence of a Classic

After falling out of favor for a few decades, the Tequila Sunrise is growing in popularity again, as modern bartenders attempt to put a craft spin on the mix. While today’s drinkers are rediscovering it, Arizonians have never given up on their state favorite.

Professional Bartenders Unlimited are dedicated to helping you make your party plan come to life, whether you want to serve the classics or new favorites. To talk about your party vision with our bartenders in Tucson, call (520) 721-1577.