Desert Sunrise Cocktail Recipe

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Desert Sunrise Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 7, 2024


The Desert Sunrise cocktail is inspired by the beautiful sunrises seen in desert landscapes. This refreshing drink is perfect for those who enjoy fruity and vibrant cocktails. It is believed to have originated in the southwestern United States, where the desert landscape is a common sight. The Desert Sunrise is popular among those who appreciate the beauty of nature and enjoy a fruity, refreshing drink.

  • The Desert Sunrise is inspired by the natural beauty of desert landscapes
  • It is believed to have originated in the southwestern United States
  • This cocktail is popular among those who appreciate the beauty of nature and enjoy a fruity, refreshing drink

How Desert Sunrise Tastes?

The Desert Sunrise cocktail has a fruity and refreshing taste, with a perfect balance of sweet and tart flavors. The orange and pineapple juices provide a sweet, citrusy base, while the grenadine adds a touch of tartness. The tequila gives the drink a subtle kick, making it a well-rounded and enjoyable cocktail.

Interesting facts about Desert Sunrise

  • The Desert Sunrise is often served in a highball glass, which allows the beautiful layers of the drink to be showcased
  • The grenadine in the cocktail creates a stunning sunrise effect when it settles at the bottom of the glass
  • The cocktail can be easily customized by adding different fruit juices or adjusting the amount of tequila



Tequila brings the spirit of Mexico to the glass with its distinctive agave flavor. At 2oz, it's just enough to give a kick without overpowering the fruity flavors. Without tequila, you'd just have a fancy fruit juice. Swapping it for mezcal would introduce a smoky note.

Emma Rose

Orange Juice

Adding 4oz of this vitamin C powerhouse gives the cocktail a sunny personality and refreshes the palate. Too much and you’d be at brunch; too little and your sunrise could turn into a sunset. The OJ is irreplaceable here; it's the base of the 'sunrise'.

Alex Green

Pineapple Juice

2oz of pineapple juice gives that tropical twist, making every sip a mini-vacation. Skimp on it, and you miss out on the vacation. Swap it for mango juice and you've got a whole new kind of getaway.

Mary Mitkina


Half an ounce of this pomegranate syrup draws a desert horizon at the bottom of your glass with its rich, red hue. It's all about aesthetics and a touch of sweetness. Leave it out, and your sunrise is a no-show.

Emma Rose


The unsung hero. Ice keeps it all chill and dilutes the mix just right as it melts. No ice and your desert would be dry as a bone. Crushed ice might make you feel like you’re sipping from a snow cone, which could be fun on a hot day.

Alex Green

Orange Slice and Maraschino Cherry

The garnish is the final flourish, a symbol of hospitality. It's like a flag planted on your desert island drink that says, 'Welcome, enjoy the view.' Forget the fruit, and your cocktail is naked. A pineapple wedge or a lime wheel could also be used to dress it up differently.

Mary Mitkina

Recipe. How to make Desert Sunrise Drink

  1. Fill a highball glass with ice
  2. In a shaker, combine the tequila, orange juice, and pineapple juice
  3. Shake well to mix the ingredients
  4. Strain the mixture into the highball glass over the ice
  5. Slowly pour the grenadine into the glass, allowing it to settle at the bottom
  6. Garnish with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry

Pro Tips

  • Shake the ingredients well to ensure a perfect blend
  • Pour the grenadine slowly to achieve the sunrise effect
  • Use freshly squeezed orange and pineapple juice for a more refreshing taste

Perfect Pairings


  • Ceviche: The citrus notes in the cocktail complement the lime and fresh fish flavors.
  • Chips and Guacamole: A classic pairing with tequila, the creamy avocado balances the acidity of the cocktail.

Main Courses

  • Grilled Chicken or Fish: The smokiness of grilled meat pairs wonderfully with the sweet and fruity flavors of the cocktail.
  • Tacos: Whether it’s fish tacos or tacos al pastor, the cocktail’s sweetness and citrus flavor cut through the spices nicely.


  • Mango Sorbet: The tropical flavors in the sorbet mirror the pineapple juice in the cocktail.
  • Coconut Flan: Its creamy texture and coconut flavor create a delicious contrast with the Desert Sunrise.

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What you could change in Desert Sunrise

  • Vodka can be used instead of tequila for a different kick
  • Cranberry juice can be used instead of orange juice for a tart twist
  • Peach schnapps can replace grenadine for a sweeter taste

Explore all drinks starting with D here

And of course - twists🍹

Mezcal Desert Sunrise

  • Substitute tequila with mezcal.
  • Recipe: Follow the original recipe, replacing tequila with an equal amount of mezcal. This twist will have a smokier character typical of mezcal, offering a bolder contrast to the sweet and fruity flavors.

Spicy Desert Sunrise

  • Add a small slice of jalapeño or a dash of hot sauce.
  • Recipe: Muddle the jalapeño slice at the bottom of the shaker before adding the other ingredients. This will give your cocktail a spicy kick, which is perfect for those who like it hot.

Berry Desert Sunrise

  • Replace grenadine with raspberry or blackberry syrup.
  • Recipe: Follow the original method, but use a berry syrup instead of grenadine to give the drink a berry twist. This alternative caters to berry lovers and adds a deeper flavor profile.

In case you forgot basics how to make Desert Sunrise

Add your ingredients to the shaker first, then ice. Fill it up to ¾ of its capacity to ensure enough space for shaking. Hold the shaker with both hands (one on the top and one on the bottom) and shake vigorously. The shake should come from your shoulders, not your wrists.

Learn everything on how to shake

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on Desert Sunrise

Why is it called a 'Desert Sunrise'?

The cocktail is named 'Desert Sunrise' due to its beautiful color scheme that resembles a sunrise seen in desert landscapes. The gradual change from the dark shade of the grenadine at the bottom to the lighter hues of the other ingredients symbolizes the break of dawn.

Can I use lime juice instead of orange and pineapple juice?

Yes, lime juice can be used but it will alter the taste of the cocktail with its own unique sharp and acidic flavor. The cocktail won't taste as sweet as it would with orange and pineapple juice.

What is maraschino cherry?

Maraschino cherries are cherries that have been preserved in a sweet syrup, usually flavored with maraschino liqueur, sugar and water. They have a sweet and slightly tart flavor and are often used in cocktails for garnish.

Can I make this cocktail non-alcoholic?

Yes, you can prepare a non-alcoholic version of Desert Sunrise. Simply omit the alcohol and increase the fruit juice portions.

What alternative glasses can I use if I do not have a highball glass?

Desert sunrise can be served in any tall glass. The key factor is using a glass that can showcase the layered look and the beautiful sunrise effect that the grenadine creates.

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