One of my favorite cocktails in the summer? A boozy Paloma cocktail.
The Paloma is a highball style cocktail with its origins in Mexico. Tequila, grapefruit soda, and lime juice are the essentials of this thirst quencher and it always gets me in a celebratory mood.
Though it is traditionally served with only these three ingredients, I thought I’d put my own spin on it. I stepped it up with the addition of an orange liqueur (Cointreau, sometimes Triple Sec) and sweetened the cocktail with homemade simple syrup.
All the liquid ingredients go into a cocktail shaker, and when they come out, they’re bubbly and slightly frothy. A splash of club soda to serve and voila, a fun and celebratory Paloma!
Each glass of Paloma cocktail consists of these ingredients:
- Reposado tequila – Measure 2 oz. of any brand of Reposado tequila.
- Cointreau or Triple Sec – Measure ½ oz.
- Fresh grapefruit juice – Freshly squeeze 2 oz. of juice and cut a wedge for garnish.
- Lime juice – Freshly squeeze ½ oz. of juice and cut a wedge for garnish.
- Homemade simple syrup – ¼ oz per cocktail, or to taste. I use ¾ cup of granulated sugar and ¾ cup of water (equal amounts).
- Club soda – Or grapefruit club soda. Measure 1 to 2 oz, or as much as you’d like.
- Tajín seasoning – Measure 2 tbsp for rimming the glass. This is a little spicy, so you can replace this with sea salt if desired.
- Ice – Every good cocktail needs its partner in crime, ice ice baby!
How To Make A Paloma Cocktail
First, make the simple syrup.
Step One: In a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, bring sugar and water to a low boil.
- Pro Tip: This Paloma cocktail has a simple syrup of just sugar and water but if desired, add herbs, like I’ve used mint in this Mojito recipe.
Step Two: Stir until sugar dissolves, then simmer until the syrup has thickened (about 5 minutes).
Step Three: Pour the simple syrup over a strainer set over a mason jar. Chill the syrup in the fridge until cold for a minimum of 30 minutes.
- Pro Tip: Once chilled, this simple syrup keeps well in the mason jar for up to 30 days so you can use it for other recipes, too.
Then, make the Paloma cocktail.
Step One: Place Tajín seasoning on a shallow plate.
Step Two: Cut a grapefruit into wedges. Rub a wedge along the rim of a cup.
- Pro Tip: Alternatively, you can rim your glass with simple syrup for a little sweetness.
Step Three: Place the cup rim-side down in the Tajín-filled plate to coat the rim with Tajín. If you aren’t into a bit of spice, that is OK. Rim with salt.
Step Four: Fill a cocktail shaker ¾ of the way up with ice. Add in tequila, freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, Cointreau, lime juice, and ¼ oz of Simple Syrup. Time for an arm workout! Put the top on the cocktail shaker and shake vigorously until the cocktail shaker is frosted.
- Pro Tip: Shaken cocktails are more aerated and well-mixed than stirred ones. Plus, the ice will melt and dilute the cocktail a little.
Step Five: Strain the Paloma mixture over a cocktail glass filled with ice. Give it a taste and top it with grapefruit sparkling water or regular club soda.
Step Six: Garnish with a grapefruit wedge on the glass and drop a lime wedge in the glass.
Frequently Asked Questions
A Margarita mainly consists of lime, while a Paloma cocktail has grapefruit in it.
Among the three types of tequila (Silver or Blanco tequila, Reposado, and Añejo), Reposado tequila is traditionally considered the best for a Paloma cocktail.
Paloma means “dove” in Spanish.
Paloma has a lot of strong flavors thanks to the mixture of alcohol and grapefruit. You’ll taste bittersweet grapefruit, sweet sugar syrup, and spice from the Tajín seasoning. It’s a refreshing drink, for sure!
This Paloma cocktail recipe makes 1 drink, but for big parties, you can scale up the ingredients and put everything in a pitcher. Fill it up with slices of lime and grapefruit, give it a good stir, and you’re ready to go!
If you want to shake up a virgin Paloma mocktail, go for it! Grapefruit juice is still refreshing with just soda, and you can still achieve the same feel with a rimmed cocktail glass or highball glass.
- I used a cocktail shaker to mix my Paloma cocktail ingredients with ice. Shaking aerates the cocktail and makes it frothy. No cocktail shaker? Don’t worry! It’s not a dealbreaker – simply add the ingredients to a tall, salt-rimmed glass and stir with a metal stirrer.
- Getting more juice out of your lime and grapefruit starts at the supermarket. Be sure to pick the ones that are a little softer. Then, before slicing them open to juice, press and roll down on the counter for a minute. Happy juicing!
Paloma Cocktail Recipe
- 2 oz Reposado tequila
- 2 oz Fresh grapefruit juice freshly squeezed plus wedge for garnish
- 1/2 oz Cointreau or Triple Sec
- 1/2 ounce Lime juice freshly squeezed plus wedge for garnish
- 1/4 oz Homemade simple syrup or to taste
- 1 - 2 oz Club soda or grapefruit club soda
- 2 tbsp Tajín seasoning for rimming the glass
- 3/4 cup Granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup Water
- Herbs optional
- In a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, bring sugar and water to a low boil. (Pro Tip: If desired, add herbs, like mint for my Mojito recipe).
- Stir until sugar dissolves, then simmer until the syrup has thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Pour the simple syrup over a strainer set over a mason jar. Chill the syrup in the fridge until cold for a minimum of 30 minutes. Once chilled, if not using right away in this recipe you can store Simple Syrup in a mason jar for up to 30 days.
- Place tajín on a plate.
- Take a grapefruit wedge and rub along the rim of a cup. Place the cup rim side down in the tajín-filled plate to coat the rim with tajín.
- Fill a cocktail shaker ¾ of the way up with ice, add tequila, freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, Cointreau, lime juice and ¼ oz of Simple Syrup. Put the top on and shake vigorously until the cocktail shaker is frosted.
- Strain the Paloma mixture over a cocktail glass filled with ice and top with grapefruit sparkling water or regular club soda.
- Garnish with grapefruit wedge on the glass and add lime wedge in the glass.