Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Tequila & Mezcal Cocktails

7 Paloma Riffs to Try Right Now

Take your tequila into new territories with these twists on the classic.

Paloma cocktail
Paloma. Image:

Liquor.com / Tim Nusog

The Paloma is a citrusy and effervescent Collins-style cocktail that combines tequila, lime juice and grapefruit soda. Its origin is a bit blurry, with several claims to its creation, but none has been nailed down as definitively correct. Squirt, created in 1938, was the first grapefruit soda, so it’s presumed that the cocktail debuted sometime after 1940, but its exact origins have yet to be uncovered.

For the tequila lover, this refreshing drink is a go-to. It’s a contemporary classic and is one of the most-consumed cocktails in Mexico, next to other popular drinks such as the Margarita and Batanga. For bartenders, the Paloma’s simple template of spirit, soda and citrus makes it an enticing mixture to riff on—and riff they do. 

These takes on the classic Paloma range from smoky and spicy to fruity and sour. You’ll want to try them all right away.

  • Vida Paloma

    Vida Paloma
    Olivia Romano

    Hailing from Chicago’s Fat Baby Tacos restaurant, the Vida Paloma doesn’t stray too far from the traditional formula, adding elements of smoke and spice to jazz things up a bit. Mezcal, the earthier agave spirit, replaces tequila; fresh grapefruit and lime juices, simple syrup, and soda combine to create a natural grapefruit soda; and a dried chile-pepper-rimmed glass leaves every sip with a spicy pop.

    Get the recipe.

  • Paloma Milk Punch

    Paloma Milk Punch

    R&D

    This boundary-pushing riff on the classic Paloma takes the cocktail’s flavors (and a few more) and uses the process of milk clarification (easier than it sounds) to create a perfectly translucent blend. This drink by Aaron Deary at Philadelphia’s R&D is silky and herbaceous, with a touch of effervescence. A combination of tequila, hoja santa and tarragon tea, grapefruit and lime juices, ancho chile liqueur and other subtle ingredients are blended and poured over coconut milk, allowing the mixture to curdle as a way of filtering the cocktail, making it completely clear. All it takes is a little bit of time and effort, and you have yourself a shelf-stable cocktail that can simply be poured whenever you’re ready to drink. It’s a more advanced process than many home bartenders have used, but it’s definitely worth trying.

    Get the recipe.

  • Rosemary Paloma

    Rosemary Paloma

    Matt Armato

    This autumnal and delicately herbal Paloma riff uses the typical blanco tequila, grapefruit soda and lime but includes the element of rosemary two ways: as a syrup and aromatically as a garnish. Rosemary and grapefruit traditionally pair exceptionally well together, and they again make a perfect match in this slight flourish on the standard template.

    Get the recipe.

  • Lone Ranger

    Lone Ranger

    Liquor.com / Tim Nusog

    If the Paloma and the French 75 had a love child, it would be the Lone Ranger. Grapefruit soda gets set aside for a dry brut rosé, lemon juice replaces lime, and simple syrup is added to balance out the dryness and acidity of the wine-citrus combination. With tequila as the base, you get a dry, citrusy and slightly floral cocktail with a superfine effervescence from the wine’s bubbles. It’s a perfect aperitif.

    Get the recipe.

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  • Palomita

    Palomita

    Salvation Taco

    Hailing from the now-shuttered Midtown East rooftop bar Salvation Taco, the Palomita ditches tequila for vodka as its base. This simple riff on the classic incorporates the typical lime juice and grapefruit soda, but its glass is rimmed with a vanilla salt for an anything-but-ordinary touch of sweetness.

    Get the recipe.

  • Mourning Doves

    Mourning Doves

    Pinewood Social

    This Paloma variation from Nashville’s Pinewood Social takes inspiration from a Whiskey Sour, using lemon along with grapefruit, plus a mix of maple and simple syrups and a spicy chipotle tincture spritzed over the top. It leaves out the usual soda, but with all the rest happening, you won’t even miss the effervescence.

    Get the recipe.

  • Paloma

    Paloma cocktail

    Liquor.com / Tim Nusog

    In case you need a refresher on how to make the original, this is the classic combination of tequila, grapefruit soda and lime. Some will try to tell you it’s better made with fresh grapefruit juice, simple syrup and club soda, but that adds more work for no additional reward. Best to stick with the original mix, but using a quality soda, such as Fever-Tree, is the secret.

    Get the recipe.