Tequila and grapefruit are among the most delightful combinations, and it forms the refreshing basis of any Paloma recipe, a classic Mexican cocktail.
This is one bitter, sour, yet undeniably hydrating and delicious cocktail. The sourness is balanced out with the addition of a bit of sugar syrup, while ice and club soda give it that added level of coolness.
There are many variations on the timeless Paloma Cocktail, but our recipe below keeps the traditional spirit of things. Keep reading, and learn how to make a Paloma drink the best way!
What is a Paloma?
A Paloma is a classic cocktail that can trace its origins back to Mexico. Our Paloma Cocktail recipe goes into more detail below about how to actually make this delightful drink, but at its most basic, this a cocktail with a vodka and grapefruit base.
With the addition of lime juice, this becomes one sour, bitter drink (which we love!), but sugar syrup or agave syrup balances out the bitterness with a touch of sweetness. It’s bitter, yet it’s undeniably sweet and hydrating.
You should serve The Paloma in a traditional highball glass, but it also goes well in a martini glass. As with most tequila-based beverages, you need to salt the rim and serve with crushed ice. We suggest using an ice ball maker for the freshest ice possible.
Right, let’s get to the Paloma drink recipe itself!
What’s the difference between a Paloma and a Margarita?
A Paloma might seem curiously similar to a Margarita, and while yes, they are both tequila-based cocktails, they are actually very different. The difference is simple. A Margarita traditionally contains tequila, fresh lime juice, and something to add some sweetness, such as Cointreau. However, a Paloma relies on grapefruit soda to give you the sweetness, usually with fewer calories!
It would be best to prepare Margaritas using tequila and lime juice, but this is where the similarities end. There’s no grapefruit, and you can mix Margaritas with sweet spirits such as Cointreau.
Palomas is much more bitter than Margaritas, which tend to be on the sweeter side of the taste spectrum.
Why is it called a Paloma?
You might be wondering why this cocktail is called a Paloma? What does Paloma mean? This is a Mexican drink, and Paloma is the Spanish word for dove, also known to locals as La Paloma. Legend has it that the name came from a popular folk song in the 19th century.
Still, some also believe that it was created by Don Javier Delago Corona, a bar owner who was the legendary owner of La Capilla, Tequila, Mexico - although, as with many classic cocktails, the origin story may have been lost to time!
How to make a Paloma
Palomas are grapefruit and tequila-based drinks. There are several other ingredients, too, however, so let’s take a quick look at the significant components of this cocktail and any alternatives you can try out.
No Paloma Cocktail is complete without the tequila. Traditional Palomas use tequila Blanco (or white tequila). This is the smoothest tequila, but of course, the best tequila comes with a high price tag too.
For a super-chilled Paloma, keep your tequila in the freezer. If you’re a true tequila connoisseur, though, keep the tequila at room temperature, where the authentic flavors of this Mexican spirit shine best.
A Paloma needs grapefruit juice to be a Paloma. This is what gives the cocktail its unique composition and its popular sour taste. Freshly squeezed grapefruit is the best, but you can also find plenty of different varieties of grapefruit juice in the store.
Grapefruit soda (sparkling grapefruit) is another excellent choice. Also, you can use other garnishes to complete the cocktail. Try a wedge of grapefruit or a slice of lime.
What’s the best tequila for Paloma?
This is a quality cocktail. Given the long history and sterling reputation behind this beverage, it’s only fitting that you use authentic tequila Paloma.
The best tequila is Mexican tequila, there’s no doubt about it, and it’s worth taking the time and money to invest in a tequila that you really enjoy, so the flavors shine through the mixers.
Our top three Tequila choices for your Paloma cocktail:
Don Abraham Organic Blanco - Often referred to as the cocktail Tequila, you won't go far wrong when using this rich and tropical tequila when crafting your Paloma cocktail. Oh, it's also organic!
Espolòn Blanco - We recommend this delicate yet tropical sweet agave Blanco as a great, affordable choice. Espolòn Blanco was grafted in Los Altos and is famed for its smooth and balanced taste.
Patrón Silver - As a well-known global tequila, you can trust Patrón Silver with its fruity citrus aroma. You should be able to find this tequila at any local store or supermarket.
It would be a shame to stop at just three when there’s so many amazing authentic Mexican tequilas available: Here is our best of the rest for creating a super smooth Paloma:
- Tequila Blanco Corralejo
- Tequila Corazón Blanco
- Pasote Tequila Blanco
- Chamucos Blanco Tequila
- Milagro Silver
- El Tesoro Blanco Tequila
- Tapatio Blanco 110
- Tequila Cazadores Reposado
- Casamigos Reposado
- Siete Leguas Tequila Blanco
Can I try other spirits to make a Paloma?
It’s never an authentic Paloma if you’re not using tequila, but there are some excellent variations on the classic recipe that it’s always fun to try out.
The best alternative to tequila is mezcal. While not so popular outside of Mexico, mezcal is a smokier version of tequila that’s perhaps truer to the Mexican spirit. Tequila is technically a form of mezcal, but mezcal as we know it is often aged in smoky barrels and casks to give it a strong finish. Try the recipe above with mezcal by simply switching tequila for equal parts mezcal.
Other variations you can try include mixing in fruity spirits such as Triple Sec or Cointreau. In a pinch, you could even get away with trying out other white spirits such as gin or vodka instead of tequila, mainly if your focus is the grapefruit flavor rather than the tequila flavor.
This is a cocktail in its own right. The Greyhound Cocktail is essentially a gin or vodka-based version of the Paloma Cocktail!
Paloma Cocktail recipe
The following recipe makes one glass of Paloma, but it’s simple to scale this up if you want to prepare an entire pitcher for your friends and family (or for yourself!).
- 2 ounces of tequila Blanco
- 2 ounces of freshly squeezed grapefruit
- 2 ounces of club soda
- ½ ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice
- Dash of agave syrup
- Salt to rim the glass
- Crushed ice
- Grapefruit wedge for garnish
- Prepare a highball or martini glass by salting the rim. Try rubbing a grapefruit wedge around the rim, then dipping the rim into salt.
- Measure 2 ounces of tequila, 2 ounces of grapefruit juice, 2 ounces of club soda, and ½ an ounce of lime juice into a cocktail mixer. Add optional agave syrup to taste. Shake ingredients together well.
- Fill your glass with crushed ice and pour in your Paloma.
- Serve with a wedge of grapefruit for garnish.
- Sit back, relax and enjoy this Mexican classic!
Paloma recipe: it’s time to start mixing!
Few cocktails are as timeless as the Paloma, a recipe that has been in fashion for well over 150 years. Keep things traditional by preparing this great cocktail with a bittersweet mix of tequila, grapefruit, and sugar syrup, or mix things up a little bit with some smoky mezcal!
It’s cool, refreshing, hydrating, yet wonderfully sour to taste. We can’t get enough of the Paloma Cocktail on a hot summer’s day, and we know you’ll love it too!
Why not bookmark our best Paloma recipe, so you can start preparing this delectable cocktail at home?