This tall and fizzy Paloma cocktail—made with grapefruit soda, tequila, and lime—is easy to make for backyard BBQs and summer gatherings.
Photography Credit:Alison Bickel
When you think about drinking tequila in Mexico, margaritas might come to mind. But the paloma is even more popular there, and for good reason. This tequila cooler is tall, refreshing, and super simple to make—just the ticket for a hot day.
WHAT’S IN A PALOMA?
Some fancy renditions call for fresh grapefruit juice, simple syrup, and club soda, but the classic (and easiest!) version is made with just blanco tequila, fresh lime, and a chilled bottle of grapefruit soda. You can add a pinch of salt to the ice, or rim the glass.
When it comes to grapefruit soda, Squirt and Jarritos Toronja are the go-to options. They taste great in this drink! If you can’t find them, though, you could try other brands of grapefruit soda like Q Grapefruit, Ting, Izze, or even Fresca. (For the record, as much as I love San Pellegrino’s Pompelmo, I don’t think it works that well in a paloma.)
Different sodas will give the drink different levels of sweetness—feel free to add an extra squeeze of lime to balance it to your taste, or top it off with more grapefruit soda.
THE BEST LIQUOR FOR A PALOMA
This cocktail calls for blanco tequila, which might also be labeled “silver” or “plato.” Unlike reposado or anejo tequila, this clear tequila is generally not aged in barrels. Look for a bottle that’s made with 100% agave—not a mixto tequila distilled from a mix of agave and sugar.
A few favorite brands include Tequila Ocho, Azteca Azul, Arette, Tapatio, Siembra Azul, Olmeca Altos, and Calle 23.
CAN YOU MAKE A PALOMA WITH MEZCAL INSTEAD OF TEQUILA?
Yes—and you should! Mezcal will add a savory, slightly smoky flavor to the drink, which can be especially tasty with grilled or barbecued food. Del Maguey Vida is an affordable brand that’s great in cocktails. You may want to start with 1 1/2 ounces mezcal if you’re not familiar with the flavor.
THE RIGHT GLASS FOR A PALOMA
Use a tall highball or collins glass, and fill it up with ice—not just a few measly cubes! I like to add a bit of soda, then the tequila, then more soda, so the booze is evenly mixed and doesn’t sit in the bottom of the glass.
TRY A SPICY PALOMA!
For a spicy variation, rim your glass with salt that’s mixed with a little cayenne or Tajín, a tart and spicy Mexican seasoning mix.
MORE SUMMER TEQUILA COCKTAIL RECIPES
- Blueberry Pitcher Margaritas
- Classic Margarita
- Watermelon Pitcher Margaritas
- Pineapple Jalapeño Pitcher Margaritas
- Long Island Iced Tea
Classic Paloma Cocktail Recipe
The rimming salt (or spicy salt mix) is enough to rim several glasses. You can rim glasses an hour or two in advance and set them aside, or skip it altogether.
Different types of grapefruit soda have different levels of sweetness. I like Squirt with 1/2 ounce lime juice; Q Grapefruit only needs 1/4 ounce.
You can start with 1 1/2 ounces tequila, and increase to 2 ounces as suits your taste.
- 1 chilled bottle grapefruit soda, such as Squirt
- 1 1/2 to 2 ounces blanco tequila (or mezcal)
- 1/4 to 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice, depending on sweetness of soda
- 2 tablespoons crunchy salt and 1 lime wedge, for rimming (optional)
- 1 lime wedge, for garnish (optional)
For the spicy rimming variation:
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne or 1 tablespoon Tajín
- Highball or collins glasses
1 Rim the glass, if desired: Add salt to a small plate. (For the spicy variation, mix 1/4 teaspoon cayenne or 1 tablespoon Tajín with the salt.) Rub lime wedge on rim of glass, then dip rim in salt.
2 Make the drink: Fill glass with ice. Add grapefruit soda to fill 1/3 of the way up. Let the bubbles settle, then pour in tequila and lime juice. Top with more grapefruit soda.
3 Stir, garnish, and serve: Stir gently, garnish with lime wedge, then serve immediately with extra grapefruit soda on the side. Squeeze lime wedge into drink if desired.
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