The Rolling Stones Made This Drink Very Popular

The Rolling Stones are one of the most influential rock bands of all time, and that influence extends far beyond music and into many other areas of popular culture. In June of 1972, the Stones had just started their American tour promoting the album "Exile on Main Street" and were starting with a series of shows on the West Coast of the United States — kicking off in San Francisco and moving down to San Diego, per The Daily Beast. The band was nervous about touring California after the horrific and tragic events at the Altamont Speedway concert in 1969 that ended with one fan losing his life thanks to the violence imparted by the Hells Angels, who'd been providing security at the show.

To help the band relax before making their way down the coast, concert promoter Bill Graham rented out the Trident restaurant in Sausalito for a private party just before the San Francisco shows. A bartender named Bobby Lozoff was working there and as the bar had a juicer, he was experimenting with making cocktails using fresh juices. When Mick Jagger approached Lozoff and asked for a margarita, Lozoff asked if he'd like to try something he'd been working on instead.

The Rolling Stones popularized the Tequila Sunrise

Per The Daily Beast, Bobby Lozoff had been particularly interested in tequila cocktails because Sausalito had become a popular stopover for people running marijuana out of Mexico into San Francisco, so the town was suddenly full of tequila drinkers. "Myself and a bartender called Billy Rice started experimenting. Anything made with gin or vodka we started making with tequila," Lozoff remembered. The Tequila Sunrise was actually named by a 1930s bartender at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel and is a riff on the Singapore Sling, only it's made with tequila instead of gin. Lozoff offered Jagger the beverage, which consisted of tequila, fresh orange juice, sweet and sour mix, soda, and grenadine, a red syrup traditionally made from pomegranates that sinks to the bottom of the glass, giving the drink its distinctive sunrise look, and the frontman loved it

"We had a Rolling Stones party one Monday night when we were usually closed," Lozoff recalled to Jeff Burkhart "The owner called me in and put me behind the bar. We had a select menu, a couple of the prettier waitresses and that was the party. Bill Graham brought in about 35 people, and you know the place holds several hundred. Mick came up to the bar and asked for a margarita, I asked him if he had ever tried a Tequila Sunrise, he said no, I built him one and they started sucking them up. After that, they took them all across the country"

The drink took off throughout the nation

The Rolling Stones were such fans that the ingredients for Tequila Sunrises became requirements on the band's tour riders and had to be delivered to their dressing rooms before each show. Promoters reportedly received a letter regarding the band's drink preferences that noted "It would be very strange to see Keith Richards in top form without the company of a good tequila." In his 2010 autobiography "Life," Keith Richards referred to the 1972 cross-country tour as "the cocaine and Tequila Sunrise tour" (according to Ultimate Classic Rock).

Once word got out that the drink was a favorite of none other than The Rolling Stones, the Tequila Sunrise took off across the United States, and soon people were ordering it everywhere. Articles about the Rolling Stones included copious references to the band drinking them during interviews and press conferences and the Tucson Daily Citizen ran a Tequila Sunrise recipe right before a Rolling Stones show in the city with the instructions "two of these and you'll be imitating Jumping Jack Flash."

Bartenders faced a fresh-squeezed orange juice problem

Soon, other rock bands even got in on the trend. In 1973, the Eagles released the Adult Contemporary Top-40 hit song, "Tequila Sunrise," which both Johnny Winter and Rick Derringer followed up with re-recordings of the single "Cheap Tequila," per the Daily Beast. However, as the drink's popularity spread throughout the country, bartenders ran into a problem. The beverage, which traditionally called for fresh-squeezed orange juice, was now being ordered in places far removed from the tropical locales where oranges grow. Instead, they had to turn to store-bought Tropicana, or the somewhat less popular Minute Maid, a cheaper orange juice concentrate that Coca-Cola quickly launched in order to try to capitalize on the massive Tequila Sunrise trend.

While the Tequila Sunrise might have fallen out of fashion since its glory days in the 1970s, the sweet, fruity citrus drink might be due for a comeback soon. As reported by Ultimate Classic Rock, in 2015 Jose Cuervo created a Rolling Stones commemorative tequila bottle and ran a commercial paying tribute to "The tour that became legend. The drink that fueled it."