The paloma cocktail is the quintessential seasonal winter libation. With the perfect balance of sweet, bitter, and salty, it’s no wonder it’s Mexico’s favorite tequila-based refreshment. And refreshing it is!
The internet is taunting me. More specifically, my Facebook feed. More specifically, my friends on winter getaways in tropical locations with sun, sand, tiny umbrellas, and nary a snowflake in sight.
Yeah. It’s that time of year.
Luckily I have a tonic – a pink, fizzy, tequila-laden tonic – that will chase away the winter blues in no time. And that tonic isn’t really a tonic, but it is refreshing and seasonal AF, and it’s this paloma cocktail.
The paloma is Mexico’s most popular tequila based cocktail, and for good reason. Sweet, salty, and bitter collide, and each are tamed just enough for a perfectly balanced, delightfully sippable, utterly transformative seasonal libation.
Tropical vacations? Who needs ’em! Actually, just kidding – I’d totally take one. But if I can’t have a four-day weekend in Puerto Vallarta, I will happily settle for a round of this cocktail by the fire. Join me as I squeeze out the last drops of great winter citrus – literally – with this refreshing paloma cocktail.
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How to Make a Paloma Cocktail
I make my paloma cocktails with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. The flavor and color from fresh grapefruit juice is about eleventy billion times more intense than grapefruit flavored soda water. It’s totes worth the (minimal) extra effort. One large grapefruit makes about two cocktails.
To prepare the grapefruit, start by rolling the grapefruit on the counter a couple of times, and then slice it in half widthwise. Juice one half of the grapefruit. I use the tines of a fork and gently twist the tines into the flesh while squeezing the outside to release as much juice as possible. You can also use a juicer or reamer. Slice the other half of the grapefruit into 1/2″ wide slices.
Pour some kosher salt onto a small plate and give it a gentle shake to even it out. Select one of the smaller end pieces of grapefruit and run it around the lip of the glass to dampen the rim and help the salt adhere. Dip the rim of the glass in the salt, then fill the glass with ice. I like crushed ice because fancy, but cubes are perfectly fine.
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, and add the fresh grapefruit juice, tequila, fresh lime juice, and a dash of simple syrup. Simple syrup is easy to make and handy to have around (see the recipe notes), but if you don’t want to bother with it, use agave nectar instead. Stir it all up until the shaker frosts.
Cover the shaker with a strainer and pour the chilled cocktail into the salted glass. Top with soda water, then garnish with one of the larger pieces of grapefruit slices.
Finally, envision yourself on a sandy beach under a blazing hot sun (if that’s your thing) and sip this refreshing concoction until the winter blues fade away.
More Winter Cocktail Recipes >>
Looking for more great winter cocktail recipes? Check out my collection of the 15 best winter bourbon cocktails! They’ll keep your tastebuds tingling and your body warm and cozy through these last few blustery weeks of winter.
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Paloma Cocktail with Fresh Grapefruit Juice
Chase away the winter blues with this refreshing paloma cocktail! With the perfect blend of sweet and tart and a beautiful pink hue, it's no wonder this seasonal grapefruit cocktail is Mexico's most popular tequila based beverage.
- kosher salt
- 1 large grapefruit or 2 oz grapefruit juice
- 2 oz tequila blanco we like Hornitos
- 1/2 oz fresh lime juice from 1/2 lime
- 1/4 oz simple syrup or agave nectar
- soda water to preference
Slice the grapefruit in half widthwise. Using a citrus juicer, reamer, or the tines of a fork, juice one half of the fruit and set aside. Cut the other half into 1/2" slices.
Spread kosher salt onto a small plate and shake to create an even layer of salt.
Run one of the grapefruit slices along the rim of the glass, then dip the glass into the salt to create a salt rim. Fill the glass with ice and set aside.
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the grapefruit juice, tequila, lime juice, and simple syrup or agave nectar. Stir to combine all ingredients.
Pour the cocktail into the prepared cocktail glass. Top with soda water to your preference and garnish with a grapefruit wedge. Serve immediately.
To make simple syrup:
Combine 2 parts sugar to one part water in a small saucepan and heat over medium high heat, whisking frequently until the sugar is dissolved and the solution is clear. Remove from heat and cool. Simple syrup keeps in the fridge in a sealed container for at least 2 months.
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