Sunburn Cocktail
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12 Facts About Sunburn Cocktail

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The Sunburn is a tequila- or rum-based cocktail typically made with tequila or white rum, orange liqueur like triple sec, and cranberry juice. It gets its name from the vibrant reddish color resembling a sunburn. First created in the Florida Keys, this tropical cocktail can be served straight up in a martini glass or on the rocks, with popular tweaks like added fruit juices or hot sauce.

With a lower alcohol content of around 15-20%, it has a margarita-esque flavor profile that works well in summer or paired with spicy foods. The cranberry juice provides a sweet-tart kick along with immune-boosting vitamin C. Overall, the Sunburn is a versatile and refreshing cocktail with origins as a tropical vacation sipper.

1. Main Ingredients Typically Include Tequila, Triple Sec, and Cranberry Juice

The most common sunburn cocktail recipe calls for tequila, orange liqueur like triple sec, and cranberry juice as the key ingredients. The tequila and triple sec provide a margarita-like flavor profile, while the cranberry juice gives it a sweet-tart kick and reddish hue.

2. Also Known as a Tequila Sunburn

The drink is essentially a tequila-based margarita variation, which is why it may also be called a tequila sunburn. Other recipes swap out the tequila for a white rum or vodka base instead.

3. Gets Its Name from Resembling a Sunburn

The cocktail is named a “sunburn” because its bright reddish color resembles a sunburned skin tone. It aims to be a light, fruity summer sipper.

4. Has Many Creative Variations

Popular tweaks include adding pineapple juice, mango, blood orange, or even habanero pepper to amp up the flavor. Floating a dark rum on top creates a “sunset” effect.

5. Typically Served Straight Up Without Ice

Most recipes call for shaking the ingredients with ice, then straining into a chilled cocktail glass. This keeps it chilled without getting diluted.

6. Has Tropical Origins

One legend claims the sunburn cocktail was created at the Holiday Isle Tiki Bar in the Florida Keys, inspired by too much time in the sun.

7. Works Well with Spicy Foods

The sweet-tart cranberry balances out spicier foods like buffalo wings beautifully, making it a versatile happy hour pairing.

8. Functions as Either a Cocktail or Shot

Sipped slowly from a martini glass, it makes a solid cocktail. But the sweet-tart flavor also makes the sunburn work well as a shooter-style shot.

9. Has Low Alcohol Content

With a base spirit plus citrus liqueur and juice, the ABV typically lands between 15-20% – strong enough to taste, but easier drinking than a straight spirit.

10. Appeared on Showtime’s The L Word

In a notable pop culture reference, the sunburn cocktail was featured on Showtime’s hit drama The L Word back in 2006.

11. Has Inspired Spin-Off Products

A company called Sunburn Drink even sells a non-alcoholic wellness beverage by the same name, containing antioxidants and vitamins to hydrate skin.

12. Provides Vitamin C

The cranberry juice contains a solid dose of immune-boosting vitamin C to help fight colds. When paired with tequila, it makes for a healing – and tasty – cold remedy.


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