Confessions of a Mixologist: Tequila Sunrise - The Three Cocktail Problem

Tequila Sunrise: The Three Cocktail Problem
or
How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Trisolaris

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Fifty years ago, in June of 1972, the Rolling Stones kicked off their first American tour since their ill-fated 1969 appearance at the Altamont Speedway. A private party was thrown for the band at Sausalito, California’s hip Trident restaurant. At the party, Mick Jagger tried the latest invention from Trident bartenders, Bobby Lozoff and Billy Rice, a simple three ingredient mixture of Tequila, orange juice and grenadine1 layered to create the striated effect of a sunrise. Jagger took a little drink from that Loving Cup and decided that Tequila Sunrises and cocaine2 would constitute the lion’s share of his diet on the coming tour. The band proceeded to terrorize the country in support of the recently released Exile on Main St, resulting in a long list of fan arrests and some amazing rock and roll. It was the Glimmer Twins and the lads at the height of their power, with the extraordinary Mick Taylor on lead guitar, spreading the Tequila Sunrise gospel across America.

When they hit Chicago just a couple of weeks later, the Stones stayed at the original Playboy mansion. If Jagger had asked for a Tequila Sunrise, he would have been surprised that the Playboy bartender knew how to make one (Mick was certainly instructing every mixologist he met along the way in how to concoct this unknown beverage) and equally surprised at what he may have received. You see, there isn’t just one Tequila Sunrise. In the late 1930s, bartender Gene Sulit used the name for a poolside quencher he whipped up at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel3 in Phoenix.

This mixologist must confess that it is pure speculation that Mick might have been served something he wasn’t expecting but there is a nonzero chance that it is true. No one will dispute that there are two very different cocktails that go by the Tequila Sunrise moniker. There are at least two Tequila Sunsets too, riffs on the two Sunrises. The circumstantial evidence for our conjecture? A quick glance through the 1971 edition of Playboy’s Host & Bar Book4 by Thomas Mario, hot off the presses just before the Stones hit the States, reveals versions of the original Sunrise and Sunset with no mention of the nascent Sausalito version. That was likely one of the last cocktail guides published in which that is true, and it is where we have sourced our “Biltmore” Tequila Sunrise recipe.

 By 1973, riding on the coattails of the Stones big tour, José Cuervo had started printing the new Tequila Sunrise recipe on the back of their bottles, The Eagles offered the country “...another shot of courage...” in their breezy Laurel Canyon bummer of a ballad5, Tequila Sunrise, and the “Trident” Tequila Sunrise had become legend, largely wiping away the memory of the original.

These events ostensibly occurred on our humble planet, Earth, not 2,000 Light Years From Home6, although Jagger would soon be hanging around with Ziggy Stardust himself. So, who knows? And while the Earth revolves reliably around just one modest sun, we still managed to produce two Tequila Sunrises, two Sunsets and countless variations on the theme. Imagine what the count would be like on a planet with three suns orbiting each other.

A world in which no mathematical formula can be devised to describe the motion of these wandering stars in relation to each other or the planet. A world thrown into unpredictable periods of light and darkness, deep freezes and boiling oceans. A world that is only periodically capable of sustaining life. A world where civilization is destroyed and born again repeatedly, due to the incomprehensible orbits of giant burning balls of hydrogen and helium. How many deliciously thirst-quenching Sunrise beverages might be devised in a society that relies on hydration and dehydration to make it through the unstable periods? The planet, Trisolaris, presents a tantalizing prospect.

This mixologist must confess, the thought of those out of this world recipes led us to do something a bit rash. We used the Sun’s corona to amplify a signal containing the Earth’s Tequila Sunrise recipes and the complete Rolling Stones catalog. We have received a response; the recipe for the Trisolaran Sunrise, completing our three-cocktail problem. It’s a smokey, fruity and nutty riff made with not one, not two, but three liquors revolving around freshly squeezed fruit juices, evoking a world on fire7, yum!

We also understand that the Trisolarans have launched a fleet of ships headed for Earth but there is no need for concern. They swear they are crossing interstellar space just to bring us a copy of Playboy’s Trisolaran Host & Bar Book. I’m sure it will all work out fine, they claim to be Stones fans after all.

 

Tequila Sunrise #1 (Biltmore)

INGREDIENTS:

SIMPLE STEPS:

  1. Add Tequila, Curaçao, lime juice, and Crème de Cassis to a shaker with ice. Shake until well chilled.
  2. Strain into an ice filled Collins glass.
  3. Top with club soda, garnish with lime.


Tequila Sunrise #2 (Trident)

INGREDIENTS:

SIMPLE STEPS:

  1. Add Tequila and orange juice to a chilled highball glass filled with ice.
  2. Add grenadine, it will sink to the bottom, creating a layered effect. Leave the stirring to the imbiber.
  3. Garnish with an orange slice and a cherry.

Trisolaran Sunrise or Chaotic Era

INGREDIENTS:

SIMPLE STEPS:

  1. Add Mezcal, orange juice and lime juice to a chilled highball glass filled with ice.
  2. Slowly add Ancho Reyes, then Crème de Noyaux. They will sink creating the sunset effect. Leave the stirring to the imbiber.
  3. Garnish

Footnotes:

  1. Use good grenadine! Grenadine is a pomegranate syrup, not colored sugar water. Buy quality or make your own by following a standard 1:1 simple syrup recipe with water replaced by pomegranate juice.
  2. Binny’s does not promote or endorse the use of cocaine. A good tequila sunrise on the other hand...
  3. Famed Chicago architect Frank Lloyd Wright did not design but helped Albert Chase McArthur with this famous Prairie School Freakout in the desert.
  4. This is a fun and relatively comprehensive volume filled with all the cocktail, wine, and hosting advice a young gentleman would have needed in 1971 for his After Dark entertaining edification, including recipes for swanky party bites like anchovy piroshki, fried chicken livers with Apple Brandy sauce, and sturgeon and Aquavit canapés. The only provocative photos are of cocktails, making it perfect for those who bought Playboy “for the articles”.
  5. It has that easygoing California country rock feel but it’s really not a happy tune.
  6. This little 1967 gem of Rolling Stones sci-fi psychedelia is like a prescient description of Trisolaris with lines like - “bound for a star with fiery oceans” and “freezing red desserts turn to dark”.
  7. Is it Trisolaris or Earth that’s burning?

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