Sweet, tangy, and deliciously boozy, my easy recipe for this Vodka Sunrise is sure to start your weekend off on the right foot. Made with just 3 ingredients in 3 minutes, it’s the perfect low-lift cocktail for brunch (or anytime you need to feel like you’re on vacation).
About This Recipe
I don’t know about you, but weekend brunch is quite possibly my favorite meal of the week. What could be more leisurely than eating a combination of sweet and savory breakfast-meets-lunch foods at a comfortable hour, especially when it’s in the comfort of your own home?
The added bonus of it being completely acceptable to have a lovely, layered cocktail right next to your french toast is just another reason to love this American institution. This light, bright, and refreshing Vodka Sunrise drink recipe is easy to pull off, and since it’s made with OJ, it’s basically begging you to drink it while the sun hangs high in the sky over swaying tall palm trees.
Made in mere minutes with only 3 ingredients, I have a hard time imagining an easier cocktail recipe. It’s right up there with my Blood Orange Mimosa recipe in terms of simplicity! So, do yourself a favor and plan on a super Sunday Funday this weekend. I guarantee you’ll be glad you did.
Ingredients & Substitutions
As promised, this sunrise cocktail comes together with just a few key ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need to grab to make this fruity cocktail:
- Ice - While it’s not technically an ingredient, make sure you have some on hand to keep your sunrise cocktail nice and chilled. For the best flavor, make it with filtered water.
- Fresh Orange Juice - Freshly squeezed orange juice is a nectar of the gods with the best citrusy taste, and nobody can convince me otherwise. To get the most juice out of your fruit, give it a firm roll on the countertop for 10-15 seconds before cutting in half. You can also use commercially produced OJ if you prefer.
- Vodka - The best vodka should have no identifiable taste. Reach for whichever brand you like best!
- Grenadine Syrup - This crimson red non-alcoholic syrup is a bar staple! If you can’t find it, you can make your own using pomegranate juice, sugar, and a touch of orange flower water. The splash of red grenadine will fall to the bottom of the drink helping to create that signature pinkish hue!
- Orange Slices - I always say a good cocktail garnish makes drinking at home feel a little fancier. Plus, you get to eat this one!
You don’t need much to make a vodka sunrise, which is part of why I love it so much - not even a cocktail shaker! Here’s what to gather for your perfect summer cocktail:
- Citrus Juicer - I’m a sucker for a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, so I always have my citrus reamer nearby. Any juicer you like will work, or swap in commercially produced OJ to skip a step.
- Cocktail Spoon - Perfect for getting all the way to the bottom of even a collins glass, cocktail spoons are serious bar multitaskers. Use the swirled stem to help you layer your cocktail perfectly.
- Pretty Glasses - Whether you opt to serve this alcoholic drink in hurricanes, a tall glass or a high ball glass, just make sure they’re ones that make you smile.
How To Make Vodka Sunrise Cocktails
You’re a mere 2 steps away from having the prettiest orange juice alcoholic drinks to serve at brunch with a sunrise effect. Here’s how they’re made:
Step 1: OJ & Vodka. Pour vodka and orange juice together then pour into your highball glass or serving glass with ice cubes.
Step 2: Layer & Garnish. Garnish with an orange slice and pour grenadine into the glass for the bright orange, red layer and ombre look. Enjoy your drinkable and beautiful sunrise!
The classic combination of vodka-orange juice-grenadine is hard to beat in this delicious cocktail, but there’s always room for a bit of improvisation! Here are a few of my favorite variations:
- Swap in a different liquor (or liqueur). Vodka isn’t the only sheriff in town. Tequila Sunrises and Amaretto Sunrises are both lovely options!
- Add the grenadine later. The only difference is in how you layer it! Start with a mix of grenadine and vodka in the bottom of the glass, add your ice, and layer the OJ on top. So simple, and equally stunning!
- Make it a mocktail. Swap out the vodka for some soda water and get a sunny, orange-flavored twist on a Shirley Temple - a great alternative and unique twist!
You don’t need stellar bar skills to make this simple layered vodka sunrise cocktail. That said, I’ve learned a few tricks to share with you:
- Use the bar spoon to help you layer the drink. That swirly stem isn’t just for looks, you know! The swirls can also help you layer the grenadine in your vodka sunrise by slowing how quickly it hits the glass.
- Batch the OJ & vodka for easier serving. If you’re hosting a big brunch, take one step out of the equation by batching the vodka and OJ together in a pitcher. When it’s time to serve, simply pour the mix in glasses, top with ice, and then add the grenadine float. Easy peasy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Oh, boy, that’s a loaded question! I typically like to drink close to home, so I reach for a California-made vodka like Hangar One! That said, there are a ton out there to choose from, so taste around within your ideal price point to find your perfect match.
PRO TIP: Depending on the brand, vodka can be made with wheat, corn, potatoes, or even fruit. If you have any food allergies (e.g. celiac disease) make sure to source a liquor that won’t anger your symptoms.
Ooops, sounds like you might’ve accidentally mixed the vodka, OJ and grenadine all together. I like to add a scoop of ice AFTER I mix the OJ and vodka to help create a barrier, and then pour thr grenadine straight into the top of the mixed cocktail.
To help create a perfect layer, don’t underestimate the power of the bar spoon! Pouring the grenadine down the swirled stem of the spoon will help to slow its progress, making sure that it ends up floating on top as intended.
Pomegranate molasses would be the closest approximation in terms of flavor, but you’ll need to thin it out with some water for the right consistency. You can also use sweetened cranberry juice cocktail or pomegranate juice instead.
More Fruity, Simple Cocktails Recipes
As always, I love seeing your creations and hearing from you! If you try this recipe for my simple Vodka Sunrise, please share your creation with me on social media! You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube and Pinterest - for more gorgeous drink recipes sent straight to your inbox, sign up for my newsletter!
- Citrus Juicer
- Cocktail Glass
- Cocktail Spoon optional
- 2 oz Vodka
- 5 oz Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
- 1 oz Grenadine
- Orange Wheel/Slice
- Pour vodka and orange juice together then pour into your highball glass or serving glass with ice cubes.2 oz Vodka, 5 oz Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice, Ice
- Garnish with an orange wheel and pour grenadine into the glass for the bright orange, red layer and ombre look. Enjoy your drinkable and beautiful sunrise!1 oz Grenadine, Orange Wheel/Slice