Combine tequila and grapefruit and you’ve got the classic Mexican paloma cocktail! Here’s how to make this tangy and refreshing drink.
Looking for a refreshing tequila cocktail? Try the Paloma! Cousin of the margarita, the Paloma is a classic Mexican cocktail that features tequila with grapefruit instead of lime. Switching up the citrus makes for a simple sour that’s sweet tart and refreshing. It’s perfect for happy hour drinks, or water it down and it could be a brunch drink too. The Paloma is traditionally made with grapefruit soda, but you can also make it homemade with grapefruit juice and soda water. Add a salt rim and you’re in business! Here’s how to make a Paloma.
What’s in a Paloma cocktail?
Why is it called a Paloma? Paloma means “dove” in Spanish. The history around the drink is a bit murky, though many believe it to have originated in the 1950’s. Some attitude the drink creation to a legendary bartender in Tequila, Mexico, Don Javier Delgado Corona (source). It’s possible it could be named after a popular folk song called “La Paloma.”
Whatever the case, the classic Paloma is just two ingredients: tequila and grapefruit soda. For this version, we love making it au natural using fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, lime juice and soda water. It turns out perfectly balanced: sweet, tart, and with the sharp undertone of tequila.You’re welcome to make whatever version you prefer! Here are the ingredients in this Paloma cocktail:
- Lime juice
- Grapefruit soda OR grapefruit juice, simple syrup and soda water
Love grapefruit cocktails? Try the Greyhound, Salty Dog Cocktail, Brown Derby, Hemingway Daiquiri, or Sea Breeze.
How to make a Paloma (3 basic steps!)
A Paloma is a laid-back tequila drink that’s so easy to make, you don’t even need a cocktail shaker! Outside of making the salt rim, it’s simply stirred together right in the glass.
- Rim the glass with salt. It doesn’t just look cute! The salt enhances the overall flavor of the drink. How to make the perfect salt rim? See below.
- Stir tequila, grapefruit, lime and syrup in the glass. This cocktail is so simple, you don’t even need to dirty up a cocktail shaker! Mix it all together in the glass.
- Add ice and top with soda water. Fill the glass with ice and top with soda water. Or if you’re using grapefruit soda, simply pour the soda into the tequila. A grapefruit wedge makes a nice garnish!
Tips for making a salt rim
For the salt rim on this Paloma, we used flaky sea salt. You can also use kosher salt if you have it, which has large grains. Just don’t use iodized table salt: it tastes much too salty! Here are a few tips to making a salt rim:
- Spread the salt on a plate in an even layer.
- Take a grapefruit wedge and cut a notch in the middle: then slide it around the rim of the glass. This moistens the glass rim without having to use your fingers.
- Tilt the glass and gently turn so the outside edge goes into the salt. Try to keep the salt on the outside rim. Shake off any loose salt into the sink.
Try it with mezcal
Want to add a unique spin to your Paloma? Try it with mezcal! This agave-based liquor goes well with tequila drinks to give them a smoky nuance. Adding it to a Paloma is truly is something to write home about! Go to Mezcal Paloma.
Dress it up with clear ice!
Clear ice is artisanal ice used in cocktails because of its crystal clear look and beautiful organic shapes. We made a batch of clear ice for this Paloma, and it made it look stunning! Alex worked out a method so you can make clear ice at home, and it’s so easy! All you need is a small cooler and 24 hours. Here’s How to Make Clear Ice.
Related drinks to the Paloma
There are a few drinks that are similar to the Paloma cocktail:
- Cantarito This spin on the Paloma is even more delicious, with a few more citrus juices.
- Greyhound Uses grapefruit juice and gin! The Paloma is a little stronger and more flavorful.
- Salty Dog Same as the Greyhound but with a salt rim.
- Classic Margarita The Classic is our favorite, but also try it Skinny, Italian, Jalapeno, Cadillac, or Frozen.
- Tequila Sunrise Another famous tequila cocktail: this one looks like the colors of a summer sunrise! Try it with our homemade grenadine.