April 21, 2023

Vodka Sunrise Recipe: An Easy and Refreshing Cocktail

Article by:

Photos by:

article & photos by:

Allie Albanese

Article by:

Photos by:

article & photos by:

Allie Albanese

Looking for a refreshing cocktail to beat the heat? Try this quick and easy Vodka Sunrise recipe! With just three ingredients and a few simple steps, you can enjoy the taste of summer right in your glass.

Vodka Sunrise cocktail displayed in a Collins glass and garnished with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry

What’s the best remedy for a hot summer day? A fruity and refreshing drink, of course! And nothing screams fresh, summertime sipping like this Vodka Sunrise recipe.

This delicious and visually stunning drink combines Vodka with the sweetness of fresh orange juice and the fruit flavor of grenadine syrup to create a cocktail that's sure to please. And the best part is that this quick Vodka Sunrise recipe is super easy to make!

So grab your cocktail shaker and get ready to whip up this perfect summer cocktail!

What is a Vodka Sunrise?

A classic Screwdriver with a unique twist, the Vodka Sunrise cocktail is a refreshing alcoholic drink made with Vodka, orange juice, and a dash of grenadine syrup. This delicious cocktail gets its name from the beautiful ombre effect that occurs from the combination of grenadine and orange juice that together create the colors of sunrise in your glass.

The vibrant red layer of the grenadine resembles the rising sun, while the bright orange hue of the juice resembles the sky’s morning golden hour glow. And where the two meet you’ll find a pinkish hue, giving this gorgeous drink an even greater sunrise effect.

Vodka Sunrise vs Sunset

The difference between a Vodka Sunrise and a Vodka Sunset lies mainly in the choice of ingredients. While both drinks feature Vodka as the primary spirit, a Vodka Sunrise cocktail combines orange juice and grenadine syrup to create a bright, bold, sunrise-like appearance, while a Vodka Sunset cocktail calls for additional fruit juices such as pineapple juice, cranberry juice, and lime juice to evoke the softer, more muted colors of sunset.

However, unlike the Sunrise cocktail, which the International Bartenders Association (IBA) officially lists the recipe as 1 ½ oz Spirit, 3 oz orange juice, and ½ oz grenadine, there is no official recipe for the Sunset cocktail. Therefore, you’ll often find a wide variety of ingredients, juices, and garnishes used to make a Sunset drink.

Vodka Sunrise vs Tequila Sunrise

Both the Vodka Sunrise cocktail and the classic Tequila Sunrise cocktail are made with orange juice and a dash of grenadine syrup, but they differ in the type of alcohol that is used. As their names indicate, the Vodka Sunrise is made with Vodka, while the Tequila Sunrise is made with Tequila. However, the main difference between these two Sunrise drinks is their flavor profile!

Because Vodka tends to be a more neutral spirit, the berry flavors from the grenadine and the fruity flavor of the orange juice are more pronounced in a Vodka Sunrise drink.

An original Tequila Sunrise, on the other hand, is more spirit-forward in flavor due to the typically strong flavors in Tequila. And because its aromas and flavors can run the gamut from sweet to spicy to toasty to fruity, the overall flavor of a Tequila Sunrise cocktail can vary widely!

Vodka Sunrise cocktail displayed in a Collins glass, garnished with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry

Five Reasons You’ll Love this Vodka Sunrise Recipe

If you enjoy refreshing, fruity cocktails that pack a pretty punch, then this easy Vodka Sunrise recipe is for you! And here are five more reasons why you’ll love this tasty tipple:

  1. It’s a simple cocktail to make. Although the layered effect may give it the appearance of being complicated, you don't need to be a mixologist to whip up this popular cocktail. There is no advance prep work needed and there are no difficult steps involved, you basically pour, garnish, and enjoy!
  2. You only need three ingredients. While I absolutely love making cocktails with heaps of fancy or unusual ingredients, in my day-to-day life my favorite drinks are actually ones that are simple to put together and that only require ingredients I typically have on hand. This easy cocktail falls into that category because you just need your favorite Vodka, a bit of orange juice, and a splash of grenadine to make it.
  3. It’s a great option for entertaining. Making craft cocktails for a large group can be a challenge, so whenever possible I like to offer punch bowl or pitcher cocktails for people to serve themselves. In this case, you can set out a pitcher of Vodka mixed with OJ that’s been premeasured accordingly and leave the glasses and the grenadine on the side. It’s a fun way for folks to try their hand at making a perfect Vodka Sunrise of their own!
  4. You can turn it into a mocktail in a snap. All you have to do is leave out the Vodka and add a bit of soda water or lemon-lime soda to give it a bit of pizzazz!
  5. It’s pretty! It’s no secret that I’m a sucker for a gorgeous drink, so this Vodka Sunrise recipe makes me happy! The deep red hue of the grenadine contrasts beautifully with the bright orange of the juice, making this cocktail a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds.

Vodka Sunrise Cocktail Ingredients

A great cocktail for any occasion, this Vodka Sunrise recipe calls for just three simple ingredients:

  • Vodka: Any kind of Vodka will work in this drink. Two of my favorites to use in fruity cocktails are Kettle One and Absolut Elyx.
  • Orange juice: Whenever a drink calls for juice, freshly squeezed is always the best way to go! However, I also know that “quick” often trumps all, so any kind of OJ will work just fine.
  • Grenadine: There are all sorts of grenadine syrups to choose from, which range in both flavor and price. Although my go-to for craft cocktails is almost always Liber & Co. because it’s made from natural ingredients and has an intense fruity flavor, it is also deeper in color and doesn’t produce the same bright sunrise effect in this drink that others do. So for cocktails like this one where color makes a difference, I usually reach for one like Rose’s Grenadine.

 

What is grenadine and what is grenadine made of?

Predominantly made from a blend of pomegranate juice and sugar, grenadine is a sweet and flavorful non-alcoholic syrup often used in mixing cocktails and mocktails. Its color ranges from deep ruby to crimson red depending on the brand and the ingredients used to make it.

Two varieties of grenadine used in a Vodka Sunrise Recipe

How to make a Vodka Sunrise

Making this orange juice Vodka Sunrise recipe is easy and straightforward. Simply follow these steps to have a lovely layered cocktail in hand in no time!

  • Pour Vodka and orange juice into a cocktail shaker without ice and shake together well.
  • Pour the red grenadine syrup into the bottom of a tall highball glass. (In a traditional layered cocktail, you’d add the grenadine last by slowly pouring it over a cocktail spoon onto the top of the orange juice and allowing it to sink to the bottom of the drink and settle. However, I’ve found it much quicker and easier to do it this way, and you still end up with the desired signature sunrise effect!)
  • Carefully fill the glass with ice cubes.
  • Pour the Vodka-OJ mix into the glass, but do not stir! The orange juice will slightly blend with the grenadine to create a beautiful gradient effect that looks like the colors of the sunrise.
  • Garnish with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry and enjoy!

To stir or not to stir?

Whether or not to stir a Vodka Sunrise Cocktail is an ongoing debate among bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts. Some argue that stirring the drink allows for the flavors to blend more evenly, while others believe it should be left untouched because the whole point of the drink is for it to look like a sunrise!

Ultimately, it comes down to how you prefer your cocktail to taste and look. If you prioritize the appearance of the drink, avoid stirring it. If you want a more consistent flavor as you sip it, go ahead and stir.

How do you get the Layers in a Vodka Sunrise?

To create the perfect layers for this Vodka Sunrise drink recipe, you need to carefully pour the ingredients in the correct order and without stirring. How you achieve this, however, is up to you!

For this Vodka Sunrise recipe, I suggest first pouring the grenadine syrup into the bottom of a tall glass, then adding ice, and finally topping it with Vodka and orange juice.

In traditional Sunrise drinks, however, you add the Vodka and orange juice to your ice-filled glass first. Then with a steady hand, you slowly pour the grenadine over a cocktail spoon onto the top of the orange juice mixture. The grenadine syrup, which is denser than the other ingredients, will then sink to the bottom of the glass, while the lighter orange juice and Vodka float on top.

Either way you do it, the result is a visually stunning gradient effect that evokes the beautiful colors of a sunrise!

Macro shot of a Vodka Sunrise cocktail displayed in a Collins glass and garnished with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry

Recommended Equipment

To follow this Vodka Sunrise cocktail recipe for a perfect summer drink, you will need a few essential pieces of equipment. These are the tools that I’m using and loving right now:

Other Cocktails to try

Looking for more fresh and fruity Vodka cocktails to beat the heat on warm days? Give one of these tasty recipes a try!

  • Blueberry Basil Spritz: A little lemon, a little blueberry, and a bit of Vodka will have you making this summery cocktail on repeat!
  • Amaro e Dolce: Vodka and Campari mix with pineapple and grapefruit juice to create an unexpectedly refreshing sip.
  • Cucumber Mint Collins: A thirst-quenching Vodka-based cocktail that combines the coolness of cucumber with the freshness of mint.

Vodka Sunrise cocktail displayed in a Collins glass and garnished with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry

Vodka Sunrise Recipe FAQs

Want more info about this easy recipe for a Vodka Sunrise? Here are the answers to a couple of commonly asked questions about this drink.

What’s a good non-alcoholic Vodka sunrise recipe?

To turn a good Vodka Sunrise recipe into a delicious booze-free version, simply leave out the Vodka and add more orange juice, some sparkling water, or a bit of lemon-lime soda to give it some zest! You could also make a Vodka Sunrise mocktail with pineapple juice or pineapple orange juice for an extra fruity twist.

Vodka Sunrise Recipe ml?

The recipe for this easy Vodka Sunrise recipe in milliliters is 60 ml Vodka, 118 ml Orange Juice, and 15 ml Grenadine Syrup.

What alcohol is in a Sunrise cocktail?

A perfect Sunrise cocktail can be made with a variety of different spirits. The most common ones used in this easy cocktail include Tequila, Vodka, and Malibu Rum.

Vodka Sunrise Recipe: The Wrap-Up

A refreshing and delicious classic cocktail, any time of day is a good time for a Vodka Sunrise! It’s a great brunch cocktail (and a great alternative to a Bloody Mary or Mimosa!), a perfect choice for outdoor gatherings, and an easy drink to whip up the next time you want to cool off on a warm day.

With only three ingredients needed and no mixology skills required, this is the best Vodka Sunrise recipe to have on hand to have you enjoying a summertime sip that looks like a beautiful sunrise in no time!

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Vodka Sunrise cocktail displayed in a Collins glass and garnished with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry

Vodka Sunrise Recipe: An Easy and Refreshing Cocktail

Looking for a refreshing cocktail to beat the heat? Try this quick and easy Vodka Sunrise recipe! With just three ingredients and a few simple steps, you can enjoy the taste of summer right in your glass.

Yields:

1 Drink

Ingredients:

2 oz Vodka

4 oz Orange Juice

½ oz Grenadine Syrup

Garnish: Orange slice and a maraschino cherry

Instructions:

Combine the Vodka and orange juice in a cocktail shaker without ice and shake thoroughly.

Pour the grenadine syrup into the bottom of a tall highball glass.

Fill the glass with ice cubes carefully.

Pour the Vodka and orange juice mixture into the glass but do not stir the drink! As the orange juice and grenadine mix together slightly, they will create a beautiful gradient effect resembling the colors of a sunrise.

Garnish the cocktail with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry.

Vodka Sunrise cocktail displayed in a Collins glass and garnished with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry

Vodka Sunrise Recipe: An Easy and Refreshing Cocktail

Looking for a refreshing cocktail to beat the heat? Try this quick and easy Vodka Sunrise recipe! With just three ingredients and a few simple steps, you can enjoy the taste of summer right in your glass.

Yields:

1 Drink

Ingredients:

2 oz Vodka

4 oz Orange Juice

½ oz Grenadine Syrup

Garnish: Orange slice and a maraschino cherry

Instructions:

Combine the Vodka and orange juice in a cocktail shaker without ice and shake thoroughly.

Pour the grenadine syrup into the bottom of a tall highball glass.

Fill the glass with ice cubes carefully.

Pour the Vodka and orange juice mixture into the glass but do not stir the drink! As the orange juice and grenadine mix together slightly, they will create a beautiful gradient effect resembling the colors of a sunrise.

Garnish the cocktail with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry.

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