We’re kicking summer into full gear and bringing you all our favorite hot weather cocktails! Today’s delicious cocktail is the Paloma, the perfect tequila cocktail that’s an alternative to the Margarita.
Brief History of the Paloma
The origins of this cocktail are even more muddled (no pun intended!) than most. There is no one person who has been given credit for creating this delicious cocktail, and the more popular stories have all been debunked– most of which reference the cocktail being conceived in Mexico.
Finding the real story also made more complicated by the fact that some untrue information may have been put onto Wikipedia within the last few years that suggests the cocktail was first referenced in the 20s or 50s– but again, that information has never been verified. Chris and Rob (our resident bartenders) found the first verified reference from 1999, suggesting the classic Paloma is a much more modern cocktail than much of the information out there indicates.
But again, not much has been proven true about this refreshing drink, so who knows what the true origin is! Our theory is that this soda cocktail probably because a popular drink in Mexico after the grapefruit soda, Squirt, first hit markets in the 1950s. Just like rum and Coke or gin and tonic water, it makes perfect sense to put together soda and spirit– and it’s quite possible that people just combined them for decades without there being a true “inventor” of this cocktail.
At any rate, we’re very glad the Paloma cocktail gained enough popularity to come across to the States, and now we get to enjoy this refreshing drink on a hot day.
The Paloma cocktail is super easy to make! It’s traditionally made of 2 ounces tequila, topped with 4-6 ounces grapefruit soda. Maybe add some coarse salt to your ice-filled glass before pouring, and you’ve got yourself a complete Easy peasy!
There are a ton of brands of grapefruit soda out there, so feel free to choose your favorite drink to add to the Paloma cocktail. Today, we’re using Fever Tree.
For other inspiration, check out our list of variations for this popular cocktail below.
Tequila for a Paloma Cocktail
This Mexican cocktail is typically made with a Blanco or silver tequila. It’s of course possible to make it with a Reposado tequila or Añejo tequila instead for a richer, deeper flavor– but the lighter tequila allows the grapefruit flavor to shine. Of course, the type of tequila is ultimately up to you, but we prefer the classic choice of a white tequila.
How to Make a Paloma
Check out the video to see how Chris makes this famous tequila cocktail. It’s so simple and requires very little prep time, depending on how fancy you want to get with it. You don’t even have to break out the cocktail shaker!
Paloma Cocktail Variations
Speaking of getting fancy, because this laid-back tequila drink is so simple to make, you really have room to play with it. We even have a couple variations on our blog already!
- Try our Rosemary Paloma, or add another herb for additional flavor.
- Instead of bubbly grapefruit soda, make it with fresh grapefruit juice, simple syrup, and club soda/sparkling water (for a sparkling quality that the fresh juice won’t provide). You can also add simple syrup to your soda for a sweeter cocktail, but of course… That’s a lot of sugar!
- If you don’t want to use fresh grapefruit juice OR soda, you can make a skinny cocktail with a super light taste by using grapefruit soda water instead.
- Add a salt rim like you would with a Margarita (you can even use pink salt or flavored coarse sea salt).
- Make it a spicy Paloma and add jalapeños, a fun complement to the slightly bitter citrus flavor.
- Use fresh lime juice for additional acidity, especially if you’re working with canned soda.
- Add in another liquor like mezcal for some smoky flavor or Campari for bitterness, like we did in our Paloma Revisited!
- Don’t like the taste of tequila? Sub out the tequila for gin instead! Either way, it’ll be a refreshing drink.
Other Two-Part Cocktails to Try
While this is technically a three-party cocktail, it’s very simple and doesn’t always call for the lime juice. So if you’d like to try other easy cocktails for the summer, here are some favorites with only 2-3 ingredients:
- Moscow Mule or any other Mule variation
- Whiskey & Ginger
- Whiskey & Coke
- Cuba Libre/rum & Coke
- Gin & tonic
- Green Chartreuse & (high-quality) root beer
- Amari & cream soda
- Mint Fernet & Sprite
Ready to make your own Paloma drink? Grab your tequila bottle, and let’s get to mixing this delicious grapefruit cocktail with the recipe below! And definitely let us know your favorite variations or two-part cocktails– and if you have any info or theories on the origin of the Paloma cocktail, tell us in the comments!
The Classic Paloma Cocktail
- 2 oz Blanco Tequila
- 0.5 oz Fresh Lime Juice
- 3-6 oz Grapefruit Soda Fevertree, to top
- Optional: First use a lime slice or grapefruit slice to wet your highball glass (or Collins glass), and then rim your glass with salt.
- Add your ingredients to your tall glass with ice.
- Give a good stir with your bar spoon, garnish your cocktail glass with grapefruit wedge or lime wheel, and serve!