Ah, the Tequila Sunrise. Is it a cocktail? A song? A movie? Could it be a triple threat? Yes, yes it is. Actually, it might even be a quadruple threat, as it is two different cocktails.
Here we want to talk about the origin of the Tequila Sunrise cocktail -- the first Tequila Sunrise Cocktail. Not the Eagles Tequila Sunrise (great song). Not the Mel Gibson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kurt Russell-starring film Tequila Sunrise (great, but confusing movie). Not the super-sweet drink made in California in the early 1970s (boooo).
No, the original Tequila Sunrise was created right here in Phoenix, at the historic Biltmore Hotel. Legend has it that a fancy-schmancy regular of the Biltmore Hotel was lamenting to Gene Sulit, the hotel’s longtime bartender, that he really needed the perfect cocktail to sip while sitting poolside. Rich guy problems, am I right? So Gene threw a few ingredients together: tequila, soda, Creme de Cassis, and freshly squeezed lime juice. Bam. The Tequila Sunrise.
This was all back in the 1930s or 1940s. Long before Bobby Lozoff and Billy Rice mucked it up in the early 1970s by throwing together tequila with orange juice and grenadine. Kinda like “New Coke.” Except people really liked this new version. Apparently even Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones were big fans.
Anyway, if you want to try the original, and we know you do -- there’s really only one place to do it:
In our humble (but totally right all the time) opinion, the Wright Bar at the Arizona Biltmore is the only place to go for the original Tequila Sunrise. Sure, Gene isn’t alive anymore (if he were, that’d be totally blogworthy and a testament to the restorative powers of desert air), but his legacy lives on. Drink it up. But dress nicely. The Biltmore is fancy, and part of the Waldorf Astoria Resort family. Don’t embarrass us.
That being said, now armed with this extremely important and useful historical information, we encourage you to head to your favorite bars and challenge the bartender -- do they know how to make the old original Tequila Sunrise? Or will they serve up the sweet new-fangled version?