Mexico’s contribution to the cocktail canon is extensive. Just look at the Paloma, a drink that’s consumed in droves across the border, despite it playing second fiddle to the Margarita in the United States.
The Paloma is a refreshing, easy-to-make cooler that combines tequila, lime juice and grapefruit soda. Its origin story is nebulous, but most reports peg its creation to the 1950s. Blanco tequila is the traditional choice, but lightly aged reposado also makes a fine drink. In this case, it’s best to keep the añejo capped, as the well-aged expression’s oaky profile disrupts that clean, refreshing taste you want in a Paloma.
In Mexico, Jarritos soda is a popular choice for adding the effervescent grapefruit note. This brand is relatively easy to find stateside, particularly in grocery stores that stock Mexican foods and ingredients. Squirt is another common pick in Mexico, while Ting and Fresca are also suitable options. However, as bartenders continue to embrace fresh juice in their cocktails, it has become increasingly common to use fresh grapefruit juice in place of the grapefruit soda. If you want to go that route, you can complement the juice with unflavored sparkling water to achieve the necessary bubbly effect. This combination yields a similar cocktail, so it’s worth the experiment. But grapefruit soda is the more traditional choice when making Palomas.
Some people may also choose to rim the glass with salt, while others add a pinch of salt straight into the glass. This step isn’t necessary, but it does add a savory quality that melds beautifully with the earthy tequila and tart grapefruit. And it opens the possibility of using a spiced salt, like Tajín, for an extra seasoning kick.
Because the Paloma is constructed right in the glass, you don’t need any bar tools to make it. Just add your ingredients to a highball glass with ice, and you’re ready to enjoy a refreshing cocktail. Don’t wait for Cinco de Mayo—that very north-of-the-border-only Mexican holiday—to treat yourself. Mexico’s national cocktail is a great choice any day of the year.
Click Play to See This Paloma Recipe Come Together
- 2 ounces tequila
- 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
- Grapefruit soda, chilled, to top
- Garnish: lime wheel
- Garnish: salt rim (optional)
Rub a lime wedge around the edge of a highball glass, and dip the rim in salt (optional).
Add the tequila and lime juice to the glass, and fill with ice.
Top with grapefruit soda, and stir briefly and gently to combine.
Garnish with a lime wheel.