12 Popular Tequilas For Tequila Sunrise

If you're in the market for a refreshing drink recipe, it's time to take a closer look at the tequila sunrise. Even though this drink is rather simple, it can possess vibrant and fresh flavors — when done properly. The tequila sunrise cocktail rose to become very popular in the '70s and '80s thanks to its sweet, simple flavor and easy-to-find ingredients. It straddles the line between boozy fruit juice and a typical tiki cocktail. Whether you're lounging by the pool at a tropical resort or hitting up your local bar during the summer, a tequila sunrise is a consistent and tasty treat.

A tequila sunrise, which is a combination of orange juice, tequila, and grenadine, can be made pretty much anywhere, including from the comfort of your own home. That being said, if you want to take your tequila sunrise to the next level, it is important to use high-quality tequila. To give you a helping hand, we've rounded up 10 popular tequilas to use in a tequila sunrise. To do so, we considered the best offerings from major market producers and craft tequila makers alike, taking in mind the tequilas that have the best flavor and aroma to match the cocktail.

1. Don Julio Blanco

ABV: 40%

Don Julio is a household name that nearly every tequila-lover knows. Per the company's history, this brand's journey started in 1942 when Don Julio himself created his first tequila at only 17 years old. It was then officially branded in 1987, and the rest is history. While it's most famous for the Don Julio 1942 bottle, Don Julio Blanco is a more affordable option that is great for making cocktails. Made from 100% blue agave, this silver tequila undergoes the brand's classic distillation process to bring you a smooth and crisp spirit.

When smelling and tasting the tequila, you should pick up on notes of citrus that will complement the orange juice in a tequila sunrise. Its sweetness is also great for several different kinds of cocktails, including the grenadine-forward tequila sunrise. That being said, this best-selling tequila can also be sipped over some ice, thanks to its smooth nature.

2. Casamigos Blanco

ABV: 40%

Casamigos Blanco is a citrus-forward tequila that is made from 100% blue Weber agave. This tequila is incredibly smooth and has a nice finish to it, making it a nice spirit to sip in cocktails or over ice. While the notes of citrus allow it to blend in with the orange juice found in a tequila sunrise, the slightly peppery flavor adds a subtle kick that can enhance the overall flavor profile of your tequila sunrise. The hints of pepper are most likely because Casamigos roasts its agave piñas to perfection for 72 hours.

Another prominent flavor that you might notice while tasting Casamigos Blanco is vanilla, which perfectly complements the natural fruit flavors found in the spirit. In addition to a tequila sunrise, some other cocktails to consider using Casamigos Blanco include a paloma or vibrant prickly pear margarita (perfect for warmer months).

3. Tequila Ocho Blanco

ABV: 40%

Tequila Ocho was created by Carlos Camarena. Thanks to growing up in a family of Tequileros, Camarena became a master in the art of artisan tequila, leading to the beloved Tequila Ocho Plata. In addition to having hints of tropical fruit, this tequila emphasizes the natural flavors found in agave, giving it earthy undertones that are complex yet easy to drink. If you are looking to create a more dynamic tequila sunrise, this is a great option. That being said, it is important to use other high-quality ingredients, like fresh-squeezed orange juice, to get the most out of Tequila Ocho Plata.

The name was inspired by the number eight, as the eighth sample of Tequila Ocho Plata was chosen during the production process. Overall, Tequila Ocho Plata is a spirit that you will want to have on your bar whether you're enjoying a nightcap at home or entertaining guests.

4. Maestro Dobel Diamante

ABV: 40%

The family behind Maestro Dobel has a deep-rooted history in the art of tequila making, making it a brand that takes tequila to the next level. While all of its tequilas are very loved, Maestro Dobel Diamante delivers optimal smoothness and a crystal-clear complexion. It is also the first cristalino tequila ever created, giving them special credibility that is unmatched. Cristalino tequila is an aged tequila that has been filtered in a way that removes all of the natural colors, leaving you with a crystal clear and very smooth spirit, perfect for your tequila sunrise.

The sleek bottle is predominantly black and white, keeping things simple yet chic. In addition to being very crispy and easy to sip, it is also quite bright and has a vibrant taste, allowing you to pack a little extra punch in your fruity and fresh tequila sunrise cocktail.

5. Clase Azul Reposado

ABV: 40%

From the stunning bottle to the smooth, crisp taste, Clase Azul tequila is a premium option that is on the pricier side for a reason. If you're looking for a versatile tequila that can be sipped on its own or blended in one of your favorite mixed drinks, Clase Azul is a brand you can count on. While Clase Azul makes many different kinds of tequila, its most popular and beloved option is the reposado.

Clase Azul tequila reposado is on the sweeter side, allowing it to pair nicely with the summer-inspired tequila sunrise. Even though it is not aged for as long as some other top-shelf tequilas, it tastes older than it is, giving it a unique complexity that is not easily replicated. Though the hand-painted bottles are stunning to display, keep in mind that the bottles are very tall, so you'll need a storage area with decent height.

6. Arette Blanco

ABV: 40%

In addition to being very affordable, Arette Blanco is both tasty and smooth. Arette Blanco boasts a bold aroma with hints of pepper and smoked agave. Though it is not intended to be a sipping tequila, it is smooth enough to serve over ice after letting it sit for a minute or two. It is also made from 100% agave and undergoes an open-air fermentation, allowing it to breathe properly and retain its natural flavors.

The bottle itself is very elegant and has a vintage appeal to it, making it a lovely addition to any bar or bar cart. Mixing your Arette Blanco tequila with the aforementioned ingredients for a tequila sunrise is sure to impress even the most selective of drinkers, and its versatility makes it a staple for any cocktail connoisseur. Though it does not pair as well with a tequila sunrise, Arette Reposado is another great spirit that is worth exploring.

7. Olmeca Altos Tequila Plata

ABV: 40% 

Olmeca Altos is an award-winning tequila brand that is great for mixed drinks. According to the brand, the brand places a huge focus on sustainability by creating eco-friendly bottles and paying special attention to its waste management process. Olmeca Altos has also won several different awards from some of the top spirit competitions around the world, giving it a prominent name and reputation in the industry.

According to Caskers, the smell of Olmeca Altos Tequila Plata is rather herbal, making it easier to ground your tequila sunrise and balance out the sweetness of the grenadine and orange juice combination. However, the cooked agave brings out a citrusy flavor that compliments the fruitiness of your cocktail. If you're craving something a bit smokier and stronger, try the Olmeca Altos Reposado for a smooth finish. Both tequilas can also be used to make a classic margarita.

8. Milagro Silver

ABV: 40%

Milagro Silver can be recognized by its tall and vibrant blue bottle. According to the official website, Milagro tequila is distilled by Pedro Juarez, one of the most renowned master distillers in all of Mexico. That fact, in addition to using the finest agave and ingredients possible, makes Milagro Silver a top-notch tequila that can be sipped over ice or used in a refreshing and vibrant cocktail.

When it comes to flavors, Milagro Silver has a few. This crystal-clear tequila has earthy scents with a bit of spice. But when it comes to taste, there is a dominant sweetness and fruitiness. While citrus flavors are certainly prominent, there are also hints of tropical fruits that will help increase the refreshing elements of your tequila sunrise. Since it is so smooth, this is a great tequila for those who prefer not to taste the alcohol in their cocktail.

9. Curado Blue

ABV: 40%

From the bottle's stunning and meaningful design to the smooth and rich flavor, Curado Tequila Blanco is a quality option for your tequila sunrise. As per the brand's website, it is the first tequila to ever be infused with cooked agave, giving it credibility and exclusivity that you can trust. Between the wood-fermented tanks and the lack of barrel aging, Curado Tequila Blanco goes above and beyond to create the best possible product. There is also no added sugar, making it very clean and crisp.

The bottles feature colorful designs of alebrijes that are unique and show-stopping, making this tequila perfect for those who like to collect special bottles. The fragrant aromas are earthy and fresh, but the taste is slightly peppery, providing a nice surprise when it comes to the flavor profile. Curado Tequila is also a brand that prides itself on using traditional methods to create quality tequila that is tied to creativity and culture.

10. Jose Cuervo Especial Silver Tequila

ABV: 40% 

Jose Cuervo Especial Silver Tequila is a more upscale and quality option from the famous brand. The founder of Jose Cuervo first began selling tequila in 1795, giving it a rich and long history in the business. Something else that makes Jose Cuervo stand apart from the competition is the fact that it continues to produce its tequila at La Rojeña, which is the oldest active distillery in all of Latin America.

That being said, Jose Cuervo Especial Silver Tequila is not the best for sipping, but it does pair wonderfully with cocktails. In addition to being pretty affordable, selling for around $20 per bottle, this tequila has the sweetest scent, reminiscent of caramel, along with a slight spice. The sweetness of this tequila will only enhance the sweetness of your tequila sunrise, and the peppery aftertaste adds a subtle kick.

11. Cazadores Blanco

ABV: 40%

There are many things that make Cazadores Blanco a good tequila for a sunrise cocktail, not least of which is that for around $20 to $25 dollars, this spirit offers craft quality at bargain bin prices. The tequila maker produces straight from the highlands of Jalisco with 100% pure blue Weber agave extracted and distilled through 24 different steps. The result is a remarkably smooth blanco that is great for mixing.

Of the several tequilas Cazadores sells, the tequila blanco has just the right profile to make a match for the fruity, tropical profile of a tequila sunrise. It has a citrusy aroma that layers up with orange juice, while the unaged body gives balance, bite, and contrast to the sweetness of grenadine. Although it's as 80-proof as the rest of the spirits on this list, the tropical fruit notes give it definition and distinction when mixed into your cocktail. 

12. El Jimador Reposado Tequila

ABV: 40%

Reposados can seem a peculiar choice for making a tequila sunrise when you consider that they're better known for having warm, spiced notes than tequila expressions, which thrive on clarity of fruit-forward traits. However, in the case of el Jimador tequila, this plays into the spirit's usability within tropical cocktails. This is a double-distilled spirit with two months of slow aging under its cap. It gives the feeling of being seasoned but not spiced.

El Jimador's reposado expression does have the traditional golden hue imparted from relatively short aging in oak barrels, but what comes from that is a louder utterance of the agave characteristics — vegetal notes that turn the taste of grenadine into something a bit more complex, an herbal aroma that gives orange juice a more pronounced lift, and a round and smooth mouthfeel to make the drink as lush as the seashore. 

Methodology we used for choosing these tequilas

Choosing the right spirit for your cocktail isn't always cut and dry, but when the recipe is simple, like that of a tequila sunrise, it's certainly a bit easier. In determining what makes a good spirit for a tequila sunrise, we used flavor and aroma as the guiding North Star. The main question to answer was: How do the spirit's traits impact the desired flavor of the drink? As such, this list has a large amount of blanco tequilas since the unaged expression most often possesses the characteristics needed to make a quality rendition of the cocktail.

As professional food and beverage writers, we sample a lot of spirits, so to create this list, we considered another important aspect: our personal experience with tequila tastings. After developing a list of some of our favorite tequilas and their makers, we turned to the broader market to consider brands we might not yet have had the experience of trying. The list is made up of spirit makers with significant market share, and ones that can be dubbed as having popular appeal; we strived to include a fair mix of major players along with smaller craft makers as well. 

Recipes for a Tequila Sunrise

In its simplest terms, the traditional recipe for a tequila sunrise cocktail is one ounce of grenadine, two ounces of tequila, and six ounces of orange juice. You may find the topped with an orange peel or dried orange wheel as a zesty garnish, but most regularly, the drink is served with a sweet maraschino cherry. 

Creative riffs on the cocktail do exist. If you're intent on making one but want to elevate it from standard bar supplies, there are quick and easy substitutions to make. For example, a splash of orange blossom water in a tequila sunrise gives the drink a new profile that's all at once slightly bitter and delightfully floral in the aroma. Adding orange blossom water doesn't mean you replace all of the orange juice; instead, consider misting the glass with a spritzer. 

However, if you are interested in affecting the main mixer of the drink, think about diversifying your OJ. Rather than using a cartoon (or even fresh squeezed) navel orange juice, make the swap to a blood orange tequila sunrise. Keep in mind that blood oranges have more sugar, so consider less juice or cutting it with regular orange juice as well.