The Paloma tastes like summer in a glass. The refreshing tequila tipple is simultaneously sweet, sour and salty. It’s also easy to craft at home regardless of the season.
The Paloma is a magical cocktail.
You could be in Buffalo during a December blizzard. You could be in Chicago in February. Heck, you could even be in Antarctica in the dead of a July winter.
Whenever or wherever you sip a Paloma, you’ll feel like you’re on a Mexican beach if only for a sweet moment. And, as a bonus, that sweet moment will taste like grapefruit and tequila.
What Is a Paloma Cocktail?
The Paloma is suddenly giving the Margarita a run for the title of Mexico’s national drink. Don’t worry – it’s a friendly contest since the word paloma translates to dove. But what is this potent potable with the bird-inspired name?
Although it’s not technically a classic cocktail, the Paloma follows the classic cocktail playbook with a simple recipe and a short ingredient list that includes tequila, grapefruit soda and lime juice. As refreshing as an ice cold lemonade, the Paloma tastes simultaneously sweet, sour and salty. But, unlike lemonade, the Paloma also provides a tequila kick.
History of the Paloma
Our research reveals that the first Paloma was likely crafted in Mexico during the 1950s. That’s the decade when Squirt, an American grapefruit soda, crossed the border into Mexico and the cocktail icon was born. But who was the first to combine Squirt with tequila?
Some cocktail historians speculate that a Tequila (the city) bar owner named Don Javier Delgado Corona invented the Paloma. It’s a story we’d like to be true since it would be poetic for the popular tequila drink to hail from Tequila (one again, large ‘T’). Then again, it doesn’t matter who created the Paloma recipe. We’re just glad that it happened.
While we don’t know the Paloma’s exact origin, we do know that Squirt was invented in Phoenix, Arizona in 1938.
As noted above, the Paloma ingredient is short. These are the only ingredients you need to craft a Paloma cocktail at home:
While Squirt was the grapefruit soda of choice back in the 1950s, many Mexicans now prefer using Jarritos grapefruit soda. This popularity is no surprise since this soda is made with grapefruit juice and cane sugar in Mexico.
Besides Jarritos and Squirt, other grapefruit soda choices include Fresca and Ting.
You can use any tequila to craft a Paloma although mixologists recommend using blanco tequila. You could also use a barrel-aged reposado tequila if you already have a bottle.
We used a bottle of Jose Cuervo Especial tequila made with blue agave. Distilled in Mexico, it has a 38% ABV. While it may not be the finest tequila for sipping, it’s an ideal tequila for crafting cocktails.
Discover our favorite tequila cocktails.
How to Craft a Paloma Cocktail
You don’t need any fancy equipment to craft a Paloma cocktail. In fact, you just need the following two bar tools:
Don’t give up if you’re missing one or both of these basic bar tools. You could use an angled measuring cup instead of a jigger and a teaspoon or tablespoon instead of a bar spoon.
Discover 10 essential bar tools for home mixologists.
Create a salt rim on a highball glass by rubbing a lime edge around the top of the glass and then dipping the glass on to a plate topped with coarse salt. Swirl the glass in a circle and voila! you just created a salt rim.
Measure two ounces of tequila and pour the Mexican liquor into the salt-rimmed tequila glass. We like to use a Japanese jigger to get an accurate measurement and to avoid spilling the tequila on the salt rim.
Buy a Japanese Jigger from Amazon if you don’t have a jigger or want an inexpensive upgrade.
Pour freshly squeezed lime juice into the same glass. You can either use a jigger or an angled measuring cup glass.
Stir the tequila and lime juice with a bar spoon or another long utensil.
Top the glass with grapefruit soda.
Open the bottle just before pouring to maximize the soda’s bubbles.
Garnish with a grapefruit wheel.
Serve with a straw unless you’d rather sip your Paloma straight from the salt-rimmed glass.
Paloma Drink Alternatives
Millions of Mexicans can’t be wrong when it comes to crafting a traditional Paloma cocktail. However, nobody will get upset if you tweak the tequila cocktail’s simple recipe. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Paloma Cocktail FAQs
The Paloma is a tequila cocktail crafted with grapefruit soda and fresh lime juice.
The Paloma cocktail was invented at an undisclosed location in Mexico. In other words, nobody knows exactly where in Mexico it was invented.
Blanco Tequila, Grapefruit Soda, Lime Juice, Coarse Salt (for rim), Lime Wedge (for rim), Grapefruit Wheel (for garnish) and Ice Cubes
The Paloma cocktail is stirred not shaken.
The Paloma is a contender for Mexico's national drink. It's also a tasty tequila tipple that's easy to craft at home.
- 2 ounces blanco tequila
- 4 ounces grapefruit soda
- 1/2 ounce lime juice
- coarse salt (for salt rim)
- lime wedge (for salt rim)
- grapefruit wheel (for garnish)
- ice cubes
- Pour coarse salt on a small round plate.
- Rub lime wedge around the rim of a highball glass and then dip the glass into the salt, twirling the glass until the rim is well coated. Set the glass aside.
- Pour tequila and lime juice into a highball glass. Stir and add ice.
- Top with grapefruit soda.
- Garnish with a grapefruit wheel.
- You can use reposado tequila instead of blanco tequila.
- You can garnish with a lime wheel instead of a grapefruit wheel.
- You can make your own grapefruit soda if you're an over achiever or if you can't find grapefruit soda at your local store.
As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, we earn from qualifying purchases.
Japanese Jigger - Premium Double Cocktail Jigger, 1oz/2oz made from Stainless Steel 304
Hiware LZS13B 12 Inches Stainless Steel Mixing Spoon, Spiral Pattern Bar Cocktail Shaker Spoon
Chef'n FreshForce Citrus Juicer (Lemon)
Highball Glasses [Set of 4] + 4 Stainless Steel Straws, 16 oz Lead-Free Crystal Clear Glass, Elegant Drinking Cups for Water, Wine, Beer, Cocktails and Mixed Drinks - Round Top, Square Bottom
Wusthof CLASSIC Paring Knife, One Size, Black, Stainless Steel
Amazon Brand - Happy Belly Sea Salt, Fine Ground, 16 Ounces
Thirsty for More Cocktails?
Try our Absinthe Frappe, Amaretto Sour, Americano, Aperol Spritz, Aviation, Bee’s Knees, Between the Sheets, Bijou, Black Russian, Boulevardier, Brandy Alexander ,Bronx, Brooklyn, Brown Derby, Café Maria Theresia, Caipirinha, Clover Club, Coquito, Corpse Reviver #2, Cosmopolitan, Creamsicle, Cuba Libre, Daiquiri, Dark and Stormy, Diplomat, Dirty Shirley, Eggnog, Emerald, Espresso Martini, French 75, French Connection, Fuzzy Navel, G+T, Garibaldi, Gibson, Gimlet, Gold Rush, Grasshopper, Hanky Panky, Hemingway Daiquiri, Hugo Spritz, Hurricane, Irish Coffee, Jungle Bird, Kentucky Mule, Kir Royale, Last Word, Lemon Drop Martini, Manhattan, Maple Bourbon Smash, Margarita, Martinez, Mauresque, Milk Punch, Mind Eraser, Mint Julep, Mojito, Moscow Mule, Mudslide, Negroni, Negroni Sbagliato, New York Sour, Old Fashioned, Old Pal, Paper Plane, Pimm’s Cup, Pink Lady, Porto Tonico, Ramos Gin Fizz, Ranch Water, Revolver, Sazerac, Sex on the Beach, Sidecar, Siesta, Spicy Margarita, Tequila Sunrise, Tipperary, Tomate, Vesper Martini, Vieux Carré, Whiskey Ginger, Whiskey Sour, White Lady, White Russian and Woo Woo cocktail recipes.
View the latest Web Story.
About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.
Original Publication Date: December 28, 2022