Step aside Margarita, the Paloma is the real drink of Mexico. The zesty cocktail is delicious any month of the year but it’s especially mouthwatering on a hot day. In a situation such as this, we like to pick the wise brains of cocktail gurus like Alicia Perry and Garret Dostal. Perry makes incredible drinks and oversees the cocktail program over at Polite Provisions. Garrett Dostal is a cocktail consultant and brand ambassador for Hiatus Tequila.
“In terms of the Paloma cocktail, I am really looking for a cocktail that is juicy, acidic, and thirst quenching,” Perry says. She adds that there are three major components at play — the tequila for the Paloma, citrus, and soda. “In the process of creating my perfect Paloma I found that specific Blanco Tequilas were either too dominant, or were not able to stand up to the ingredients of the cocktail,” she says. “Fortaleza Blanco allowed for subtle notes of citrus, agave, and vanilla to be well represented in the cocktail.”
When it comes to grapefruit, Perry likes the pink variety as it offers a solid balance of bitterness and sweetness. Which soda? She likes Topo Chico for its full effervescence and minerality. “I also found that sea salt and a grapefruit wedge implemented into the cocktail allowed for it to have more robust flavors and a rounded body,” she adds.
According to Dostal, “When it comes to the Paloma it is a very simple cocktail,” he says. “However, the simpler the cocktail, often the greater the scrutiny from purists.”
One way to make a Paloma, he says, is the “soda method.” It’s basically a dumbed-down version of the drink, turning a four-to-five-ingredient drink into a three-ingredient one. “This recipe maximizes efficiency and highlights the products being used by allowing the minimal ingredients to shine,” he says. Essentially, it’s just tequila and grapefruit soda.
On a personal level, Dostal is attracted to a Paloma with balance. He also appreciates rich agave notes from a quality tequila. “As a drink made from an agave spirit I want to be able to taste the spirit in the drink,” he says. “For this, I would recommend a Blanco tequila from the Tequila Valley – like Hiatus Tequila Blanco. It is sharp to cut through the fruit and soda, and has rich bold agave flavors to shine in the drink.”
How do you achieve balance? It’s all about evening out the bitter, sweet, and sour. “Everyone has their preference when it comes to this ratio,” Dostal admits. “However, I prefer for the cocktail to sit slightly on the sweeter side than the sour. This is more appealing to a larger audience and helps lift the agave notes from the tequila.” See below for Perry and Dostal’s ideal Paloma cocktail recipes.
Perry’s Ideal Paloma
- 2 oz Fortaleza Blanco
- .75 oz lime juice
- .75 oz grapefruit juice (pink grapefruit)
- .75 oz simple syrup (1:1)
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1 grapefruit triangle
Muddle grapefruit triangle and shake with ice in cocktail tins. Strain and pour into a Collins or tall glass over ice and top with Topo Chico. Garnish with a salted grapefruit triangle.
Dostal’s Ideal Paloma
- 2 oz Hiatus Tequila Blanco
- 2 oz grapefruit juice
- .5 oz fresh lime juice
- Club soda
- Kosher salt
- 1 grapefruit wedge
Salt the rim of a highball glass or Collins Glass and fill with ice. Add all ingredients to a shaker tin. Add two pinches of salt and seal the tin and shake. Strain over ice and top with club soda. Garnish with a grapefruit wedge.
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