The paloma is a classic Mexican cocktail that is perfectly fresh, sweet, salty, and sour! It’s a combination of grapefruit juice, lime juice, tequila, and agave syrup that come together beautifully to form the perfect summer cocktail.

A paloma cocktail sitting on a glass patio table.

Ever heard of the paloma cocktail? Me neither until a few days ago, but I’m in love! The paloma is actually the national cocktail of Mexico. That’s right, it’s not the margarita! This is shocking, I know. But the paloma might actually be better. It’s a perfectly refreshing summer drink that is traditionally made with tequila, grapefruit soda, and lime juice.

In Mexico, grapefruit sodas that are frequently used are Jarritos, Squirt, Ting, or Fresca. These can be found in most Mexican grocery stores in the US. This recipe is a variation on that traditional Mexican drink. Instead of grapefruit soda we use fresh grapefruit juice and sparkling water. It’s a lighter, fresher version that is still sweet and bubbly and just as delicious!

As for the origins of the paloma… well, nobody seems to know. It seems to have come about in the 1950s. Some theorize it was created by a famous bartender from that era, Don Javier Delgado Corona. “La paloma” means dove, and it could be associated with a folk song of the same name that is well known in Mexico. Or, it could be a take on “pomelo,” the Spanish word for grapefruit. Or it could be a combination of all three. Paloma is also the name of Picasso’s daughter. This appears to be unrelated to the drink but is just a fun fact!

We may never know for sure, but what we do know that this drink is delicious.

A paloma cocktail next to a grapefruit half and limes.

The Paloma Cocktail is:

  • Complex in flavor with the perfect combination of sweet, sour, salty, and a little bit bitter. Add on the bubbles from the sparkling water and cold ice and it’s a full sensory experience.
  • Refreshing on a hot summer day and made with real fruit juices.
  • Simple to make with the ingredients coming together in minutes! No cocktail shaker required.
A grapefruit half, tequila bottle, and limes with a paloma cocktail.

Ingredients to Make a Paloma Cocktail

  • Tequila: Tequila blanco is the alcohol base of the cocktail.
  • Grapefruit juice: Part of the base of the cocktail that provides a sweet and slightly bitter flavor. Either bottled grapefruit juice or freshly squeezed grapefruit juice will work well. This along with the sparkling water is the substitute for the grapefruit soda.
  • Sparkling water: Lots of wonderful bubblies making it refreshing.
  • Lime juice: A squirt of lime juice provides a tart and sour contrast to the sweetness of the grapefruit.
  • Agave syrup: Sweetens the drink to taste. Agave syrup in particular is a wonderful complement in flavor to the tequila.
  • Ice: On the rocks makes it cold and refreshing, need I say more?
  • Grapefruit or lime wheel: Acts as a garnish and wets the rim for the salt rim. Also fun to eat.
  • Kosher salt: Makes the salt rim and gives the drink a nice salty kick.
A paloma cocktail sitting on a glass patio table.

Tips

  1. Palomas can also be made with mezcal, but tequila is more common.
  2. Make sure to use tequila blanco. Tequila blanco has the flavor profile of agave, pepper, citrus, and spice. Using tequila reposado or añejo will provide a very different flavor profile (oak, vanilla, cinnamon) that won’t mix as well with the grapefruit and lime. We used Olmeca Altos Plata and it was great!
  3. Simple syrup or a teaspoon of sugar can easily be swapped out for the agave syrup if you don’t have any agave syrup on hand. I chose agave because I think it complements the tequila really nicely.
  4. Topo Chico is my sparkling water of choice for this drink. It’s a Mexican brand that’s widely available in the US and SUPER bubbly!
A paloma cocktail next to a grapefruit half and limes.

Check out more drink recipes here!

Paloma

The French Press
The paloma is a classic Mexican cocktail that is perfectly fresh, sweet, salty, and sour! It’s a combination of grapefruit juice, lime juice, tequila, and agave syrup that come together beautifully to form the perfect summer cocktail.
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 1 person

Ingredients
  

  • 2 oz tequila
  • 2 oz grapefruit juice
  • 2 oz fresh lime juice
  • 2 oz sparkling water
  • 1 tsp agave syrup, or to taste
  • 1 grapefruit or lime wheel
  • Kosher salt
  • Ice

Instructions
 

  • Rim the glass with salt by spreading kosher salt on a plate, rubbing a grapefruit or lime wheel around the rim of the glass, then dipping the rim in the salt.
  • Combine the tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and agave syrup in the glass. Stir to combine.
  • Fill the glass with ice then top with sparkling water and garnish with a grapefruit or lime wheel.
Keyword Cocktails

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