This version of the classic Tequila Sunrise is served in a highball glass. (Saul Sugarman/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Last Call with Saul: When life gives you orange skies, make orange cocktails

Alien atmosphere gives rise to color-themed drinks

I woke up to an alien planet this week: The sky was orange outside my bedroom window, a scary sort of color that felt like someone set it ablaze. But after coronavirus happened, after quarantine, job losses, strained friendships and a tumultuous political situation — to say the least — my internal reaction was less Chicken Little’s “The sky is falling!” and more a sort of numb acceptance of “This is fine.”

Still, I struggled to do normal things without simply stopping and staring at the sky. I also finally understood why my family’s parrots went to sleep once mom threw a bedsheet over their cages: The darkness the weird sky caused made me feel like it was perpetually too early to start work, even when it was 1 p.m., and I was still in bed.

I wanted to update you with another segment today with how bars are coping in coronavirus, or to have sat down with a mixologist or owner, but — and as iconic as a photo of it may have been — I couldn’t envision an interview with that person in nightlife, in a face mask, with their cocktail, set against an orange sky. Instead, I tried my hand at some orange-themed cocktails: Creamsicle and fruit flavored ones.

Owing to its bad taste in the moment, I only added one cocktail to this list that uses Fireball. It felt too on-the-nose to omit entirely. The following are recipes I found with some minor tweaks, and some eerie photos of orange cocktails set against an orange sky. I began my project the second day of the haze, and while the color outside had improved, it still had a distinctively Creamsicle glow to it.

Sunset Creamsicle

I found this recipe, and it reminded me of cream sodas I liked as a child, so I took it out to the baseball diamond at Sharon Field, in Golden Gate Park.

The Sunset Creamsicle is reminiscent of a childhood favorite. (Saul Sugarman/Special to S.F. Examiner)

• 1 ounce vanilla vodka, chilled

• 6 ounces orange soda

• Whipped cream of choice

Orange sprinkles or maraschino cherry for garnish

Fill a glass with ice, add soda, then vanilla vodka. Top with whipped cream, and garnish with orange sprinkles or a maraschino cherry, and serve immediately.

Tequila Sunrise

This one has a local heritage, made by Bobby Lozoff of The Trident in Sausalito, for The Rolling Stones in the early 1970s. I found this recipe in Esquire, although it is the same many places. I made mine in a double shot glass, but the following recipe from Esquire is made for a highball glass.

• 1.5 ounces tequila of choice

• 3 ounces fresh squeezed orange juice

• 1 teaspoon grenadine

Combine ice, orange juice and tequila, and shake well, then strain into a chilled highball glass. Tip the glass and pour grenadine in at one side, so that it pools at the bottom. Using a spoon, stir very gently to layer the grenadine with the orange juice.

Fireball Cinnamon Whisky is the basis of the fruity Cherry Apple Bomb. (Saul Sugarman/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Fireball Cherry Apple Bomb

I actually like Fireball. In my role as a nightlife promoter, I often joke it’s because I’m “from trash,” aka the suburbs. The irony of how un-classy it is makes it entertaining when I’m so often trying to exude a fancy brand. I usually drink it as a straight shot, but I tried this recipe and added a shot of orange juice, sort of by accident, but it worked out.

• 1 shot Fireball cinnamon whiskey

• 1 shot grenadine

• 2 shots apple cider

• 1 shot ginger ale

• 1 shot orange juice (optional)

• 3 maraschino cherries for garnish

Fill a cocktail glass with ice, then layer in grenadine. Add on top of that Fireball, and fill the remainder with apple cider and optional orange juice. Float the cocktail with ginger ale, and top with maraschino cherries.

Saul Sugarman is a San Francisco-based writer, event producer and apparel designer. Last Call with Saul appears every other Sunday in the Examiner. He is a guest columnist and his opinions are not necessarily that of the Examiner.

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