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Sunburst Cocktail: A Refreshing Summer Drink

The “Sunburst” cocktail created by Tony Nguyen, a bartender at Henhouse Wine Bar in Memphis, Tennessee, is an inventive and refreshing summer drink that brings together unexpected flavors in a harmonious blend. The cocktail challenges conventional notions of what a “summer drink” should be by incorporating Cognac, a spirit more commonly associated with colder months and contemplative sipping.

Here’s why the Sunburst cocktail works:

  1. Balanced Flavors: The cocktail achieves a delightful balance between the freshness of grapefruit liqueur and the lemon juice, and the depth and richness of the V.S. Cognac. The grapefruit adds tanginess while the Cognac provides a luscious, full-bodied base.
  2. Versatility of Cognac: Tony Nguyen brings attention to the overlooked summer potential of Cognac. Known for its richness and complexity, Cognac in this context acts as a robust foundation upon which the other ingredients can shine.
  3. Refreshing Element: Tonic water adds effervescence and a slight bitterness that contrasts with the sweetness and acidity of the other ingredients, making the cocktail more refreshing.
  4. Herbal Touch: The garnish of a fresh rosemary sprig is not merely decorative but aromatic, adding an herbal nuance that complements the grapefruit and Cognac.
  5. Simplicity: Despite its complex flavors, the Sunburst is simple to make. It requires basic cocktail-making skills — shaking and straining — and a handful of ingredients.

To recreate the Sunburst cocktail, you’ll need:

Table of Contents


  • 0.50 oz. freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 0.75 oz. grapefruit liqueur
  • 1.25 oz. V.S. Cognac
  • 1 oz. good quality tonic water
  • Fresh rosemary sprig for garnish


  1. Add lemon juice, grapefruit liqueur, and V.S. Cognac to a mixing tin.
  2. Shake well with ice.
  3. Strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice.
  4. Top with 1 oz. of good quality tonic water.
  5. Garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary.

Enjoy the burst of flavors and the refreshing notes that make this cocktail a perfect summer sipper!

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