Any tequilero knows how to fix a good margarita, but for Mexicans, this may not be their go-to tequila cocktail. In the homeland of tequila, the Paloma is king. Born at the aptly named La Capilla (spanish for The Chapel) and prepared for the first time by legendary Don Javier Delgado, the Paloma has conquered many hearts over the years.
In the states, the Paloma has always been living under the shadow of her most popular sister Margarita, but times are changing. Grapefruit, the distinctive ingredient of the drink, is one of the most harvested fruits in US soil; a real beauty about this drink is that if it’s too much of a hassle to get freshly squeezed juice, a good pink grapefruit soda like 3 Cents will more than do the trick.
Even world-renowned bartender Dré Masso approves: “Surprisingly, the Paloma is Mexico’s most popular cocktail, not the Margarita as I originally thought. Most of the time it is made with a canned or bottled fizzy drink which consists of grapefruit, lime, sugar, and soda”.
The Paloma brings together the bitter citrus flavor of grapefruit, the sweetness of agave syrup or soda, lime acid and a spicy and salty rim to give a true explosion of flavors. But enough talking, let’s fix ourselves some delicious Palomas.
Here are the main ingredients you are going to need to prepare your awesome Paloma cocktail:
- Grapefruit soda (grapefruit juice and sparkling water)
- Freshly squeezed lime juice
- Agave or simple syrup
- Optional garnishes: salt, lime and grapefruit slices
How to Make Paloma Cocktail
The base of any cocktail in the world is, obviously, the alcohol. To be able to enjoy a good drink, you need to choose properly. What type of tequila do you like? Silver, Reposado or Añejo? If you are new to the tequila label jargon, here is a brief distinction:
- Silver tequila, also Blanco, Plata or White never sees the inside of an oak barrel. It’s the purest expression of agave’s natural flavors. This strong profile is what makes silver tequila great in cocktails, as it can handle any mixer you throw at it.
- Reposado, also Rested or Aged, sits in the barrel for between two months and one year, allowing it to develop a unique profile.
- Añejo, on the other hand, stays in the barrel for one to three years. This extra time intensifies the flavor, notes and color, resulting in a richer taste.
For the perfect Paloma, choose a Reposado or any good quality Blanco tequila (100% agave).
The next step to prepare your Paloma is the grapefruit soda. You can select any kind, but opt for Jarritos, Squirt or Fresca for a more traditional version.
Although the traditional recipe calls for grapefruit soda, many bartenders are increasingly opting for fresh grapefruit juice. It’s crisp and easy to make. If fresh is your thing, you can complement the fresh grapefruit juice with unflavored sparkling water for the bubbly effect.
Along with the grapefruit juice, it’s time to squeeze the fresh lime juice. The lime adds to Paloma’s tart profile. However, you can always add a sweetener, like agave or simple syrup, that can help you balance these tart notes.
We’re almost there! Some people like a salted rim, while others love having that extra bit of salt in the drink to brighten the flavor. If you want to skip this step, feel free to do so. The grapefruit and lime slices are also optional, but make for an elegant garnish.
How to Make a Paloma with Tequila
The Paloma cocktail is an incredibly easy to make option for hot days or even social events. Follow these simple instructions to give yourself a gift!
- Prepare your glasses (optional): Pour salt into a small plate. Rim your glass(s) with water, lime, or grapefruit wedge, then roll in salt to coat.
- Mix the tequila, lime juice and sugar syrup: When well mixed, pour over a tall glass with ice. You can also mix these straight in the glass (it’s easier if you skip the sugar; less sweet but still delicious!).
- Top it off with grapefruit soda: Remember, you can always choose to make your Paloma with grapefruit juice and club soda instead.
- Garnish and enjoy!
How strong is the Paloma alcohol? How weak or strong your Paloma ends up largely depends on how much soda you pour. Start with a small amount and gradually adjust to your liking.
Do you want to try an authentic cocktail? Our easy Altos Paloma recipe is perfect for celebrating a beautiful sunny afternoon, chilled evening or your next dinner party. Learn how to make it!
Variations for Traditional Paloma Cocktail Recipe
Classic Paloma is always a good option, but there’s plenty of possibilities when it comes to letting your imagination fly. Here’s some good ideas.
Strawberry Ginger Paloma
If you’re a strawberry fan, this easy Paloma recipe cocktail will become a favorite!
To make the refreshing cocktail:
- Squeeze fresh grapefruit juice into a large bowl
- Add the ginger beer, tequila and fresh strawberries
- Give the strawberries time to soak (ideally five minutes)
- Muddle the strawberries and pour the liquid into glasses with ice
- Alternatively, you can strain to remove fruit
- Garnish with strawberry slices, fresh rosemary, thyme, mint sprigs or lime slices.
Jolly Merry Holiday
This Jolly Merry cocktail makes the holiday season the most wonderful time. With just tequila, grapefruit juice and dry sparkling wine to top, you should have a delicious drink to put the holiday atmosphere on the table.
Discover this delicious sparkling version of our beloved Paloma:
- 60ml Altos Plata Tequila
- 15ml Agave honey
- 15ml Lemon or lime juice
- 3 Cents Pink Grapefruit Soda
- A pinch of salt
Pour tequila, agave, lime juice and pink grapefruit soda in a highball. Stir to dissolve and top off with soda. Serve into glasses filled with ice, garnish and enjoy!
The secret to a great Paloma, or any tequila-based cocktail, is the quality of tequila. The Olmeca Altos tequila is 100% agave and distilled in small batches for the ultimate superiority in quality. As you’d imagine, 100% agave tastes so much better. Plus, Altos tequila is really affordable.