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Mexico’s national aperitif, the Paloma cocktail, is a simple tequila and grapefruit drink with a thirst-quenching, irresistible appeal.

A collins glass with a Paloma cocktail in it, garnished with a grapefruit wedge.

The Paloma, or “Dove” in Spanish, is quick to make and so refreshing. You can make big batches and serve them by the pitcher to friends and family, or you can carefully craft each drink by hand.

Palomas counter-balance the spiciness of Mexico’s hottest foods, too. No wonder the drink is so popular!

Table of Contents
  1. Recipe ingredients
  2. Ingredient notes
  3. Instructions
  4. Recipe tips and variations
  5. Paloma Cocktail Recipe

Recipe ingredients

Labeled paloma cocktail ingredients.

Ingredient notes

  • Tequila: Tequila blanco is lighter in body and perfect for making cocktails like this one. Tequila reposado (which means “rested” and is aged in oak for at least 2 months) is ideal for sipping.
  • Grapefruit soda: Mexicans usually use Squirt or Fresca (Their Fresca is different! It’s not sugar-free!). If you want something made without corn syrup, look for Jarritos or Izze brand grapefruit sodas.
  • Salt: This is usually added as a pinch on top of the drink, but you can salt the rim like a Margarita if you prefer.
  • Garnish: A lime wedge is the traditional garnish. A slice of ruby red grapefruit looks pretty, too!

Instructions

  • Fill a tall glass with ice. Add tequila and lime juice, then top with soda and garnish with a pinch of salt and a grapefruit wedge if desired.
Pouring soda into a paloma cocktail.

Recipe tips and variations

  • Yield: This recipe makes 1 cocktail.
  • All juice: Skip the fizz and do 4 ounces of freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice instead of soda.
  • Mezcal Paloma: All tequilas are a kind of mezcal, but not all mezcals are tequilas. Substitute Mezcal for the tequila if you are looking for a smoky, savory flavor.
  • Cantarito: Add ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) orange juice with the lime juice.
  • Greyhound: Substitute gin or vodka for the tequila and substitute fresh grapefruit juice for the grapefruit soda.
  • Big batch: To make a batch of 12 cocktails, in a large pitcher filled with ice, add 24 ounces (3 cups) tequila and 6 ounces (¾ cup) lime juice. Carefully stir in 48 ounces (6 cups) grapefruit soda. Have ice, glassware, salt, and grapefruit wedges on hand so guests can help themselves.
A collins glass with a Paloma cocktail in it, garnished with a grapefruit wedge.

More refreshing cocktails

A collins glass with a Paloma cocktail in it, garnished with a grapefruit wedge.

Paloma Cocktail

Mexico’s national aperitif, the Paloma cocktail, is a simple tequila drink with a thirst-quenching, irresistible appeal. Move over Margarita, here comes something better!
5 from 1 vote
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 5 mins
Servings 1 serving
Course Drinks
Cuisine Mexican
Calories 181

Ingredients 

  • 2 ounces tequila (¼ cup, see note 1)
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice (1 tablespoon)
  • 4 ounces grapefruit soda (½ cup, see note 2)
  • pinch coarse salt (see note 3)
  • grapefruit wedge for garnish (see note 4)

Instructions 

  • Fill a tall glass with ice. Add tequila and lime juice, then top with soda and garnish with a pinch of salt and a grapefruit wedge if desired.

Notes

  1. Tequila: Tequila blanco is lighter in body and perfect for making cocktails like this one. Tequila reposado (which means “rested” and is aged in oak for at least 2 months) is ideal for sipping.
  2. Grapefruit soda: Mexicans usually use Squirt or Fresca (Their Fresca is different! It’s not sugar-free!). If you want something made without corn syrup, look for Jarritos or Izze brand grapefruit sodas.
  3. Salt: This is usually added as a pinch on top of the drink, but you can salt the rim like a Margarita if you prefer.
  4. Garnish: A lime wedge is the traditional garnish. A slice of ruby red grapefruit looks pretty, too!
  5. Yield: This recipe makes 1 cocktail.
  6. All juice: Skip the fizz and do 4 ounces of freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice instead of soda.
  7. Mezcal Paloma: All tequilas are a kind of mezcal, but not all mezcals are tequilas. Substitute Mezcal for the tequila if you are looking for a smoky, savory flavor.
  8. Cantarito: Add ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) orange juice with the lime juice.
  9. Greyhound: Substitute gin or vodka for the tequila and substitute fresh grapefruit juice for the grapefruit soda.
  10. Big batch: To make a batch of 12 cocktails, in a large pitcher filled with ice, add 24 ounces (3 cups) tequila and 6 ounces (¾ cup) lime juice. Carefully stir in 48 ounces (6 cups) grapefruit soda. Have ice, glassware, salt, and grapefruit wedges on hand so guests can help themselves.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cocktailCalories: 181kcalCarbohydrates: 13gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSodium: 12mgPotassium: 19mgFiber: 1gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 7IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 4mgIron: 1mg
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Executive Chef and CEO at | Website | + posts

Meggan Hill is the Executive Chef and CEO of Culinary Hill, a popular digital publication in the food space. She loves to combine her Midwestern food memories with her culinary school education to create her own delicious take on modern family fare. Millions of readers visit Culinary Hill each month for meticulously-tested recipes as well as skills and tricks for ingredient prep, cooking ahead, menu planning, and entertaining. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the iCUE Culinary Arts program at College of the Canyons.

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Comments

  1. Sounds refreshing and customizable.  I’ll try concentrate and sugar to taste, the bitters, water and my soda stream.

    I concoct my own margarita mix that’s less sweet than he typical commercial brand.   Now I’m a vodka drinker and this would rock with some high octane stuff.5 stars