Skip to main content

Listen to the experts: Here’s how to make the perfect Paloma drink

Want to make the best version of a classic Paloma cocktail? Here's how

Paloma cocktail
Kurman Communications / Flickr

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 used to make incredible drinks at Polite Provisions and last we heard, works as a drinks guru at Consortium Holdings. 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 said. 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 stated. “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 added.

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 said. 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 quality tequila. “As a drink made from an agave spirit, I want to be able to taste the spirit in the drink,” he explained. “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 admitted. “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.

Paloma cocktail
Alexander Prokopenko / Shutterstock

Perry’s ideal Paloma

Balanced thanks to even ratios and impeccable refreshing, Perry’s Paloma is worth replicating at home.

What you’ll need to make this Paloma

  • 2 ounces Fortaleza Blanco
  • 3/4 ounce lime juice
  • 3/4 ounce grapefruit juice (pink grapefruit)
  • 3/4 ounce simple syrup (1:1)
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 grapefruit triangle

Recipe steps

  1. Muddle grapefruit triangle and shake with ice in cocktail tins.
  2. Strain and pour into a Collins or tall glass over ice and top with Topo Chico.
  3. Garnish with a salted grapefruit triangle.
A round of Palomas
Maryna Voronoma / Adobe Stock

Dostal’s ideal Paloma

This Paloma banks on a little more grapefruit but is rounded out nicely by the club soda.

What you’ll need to make this Paloma

  • 2 ounces Hiatus Tequila Blanco
  • 2 ounces grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • Club soda
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 grapefruit wedge

Recipe steps

  1. Salt the rim of a highball glass or Collins Glass and fill with ice.
  2. Add all ingredients to a shaker tin.
  3. Add two pinches of salt and seal the tin and shake.
  4. Strain over ice and top with club soda and garnish with a grapefruit wedge.
Mijenta Paloma Cocktail
Image used with permission by copyright holder

What’s the history of the Poloma cocktail?

The history of the Paloma is a bit murky, shrouded in mystery like the origins of many classic cocktails. While its exact beginnings remain unclear, there are some popular theories and known facts.

Don Javier Delgado Corona, owner of La Capilla bar in Tequila, Mexico, was long credited with inventing the Paloma, alongside his other creation, the Batanga. While the bar was a well-respected establishment, and the timing aligns with the Paloma’s rise in popularity, this theory has lost traction as Corona himself denied creating the drink.

There are also some potential origins that we know about.

  • 1950s and Squirt: Some theorize that the Paloma emerged in the 1950s after the grapefruit soda Squirt entered the Mexican market. Locals supposedly started mixing it with tequila, giving birth to the simple, refreshing cocktail.
  • La Paloma, the song: Another theory connects the name to the popular Mexican folk song La Paloma (“The Dove”) composed in the 1860s. This theory could explain the name, but it doesn’t shed light on the drink’s creation.
  • The color connection: Some say the name derives from the drink’s pale pinkish color, resembling the feathers of a dove.

Here’s what we do know for sure:

  • The Paloma is undoubtedly Mexican, most likely originating in Jalisco, the land of tequila.
  • Its rise to popularity traces to the mid-20th century, coinciding with the spread of grapefruit soda.
  • It’s become a beloved summer drink in Mexico and beyond, known for its simplicity, fresh grapefruit flavor, and refreshing nature.

Don’t worry — we have plenty more content related to agave spirits. Check out the best Margarita recipe or learn about the sustainability of Sotol, coming soon to a bar near you. Love earthy flavors? Here’s what to know about mezcal.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
The 11 best grill and smoker recipes to make now
Tasty recipes to cook on your gas, charcoal, or pellet grill
Ducks in the Pig Pen

It's that time of year again when we neglect our Dutch ovens, slow cookers, and air fryers for our outdoor char-grilling and smoking devices. It doesn't matter if you're cooking with gas, charcoal, or pellets. The main is you're outside enjoying the nice weather with a a cold beer.

While everyone loves a tasty burger or hot dog, they can get boring after a while. Sometimes, we want to flex our culinary muscles at our grills and for anyone else who may be just hanging around us for the cold beer.

Read more
Cognac vs. brandy: What’s the difference?
Wonder no more about these age-old grape spirits
Brandy in the sunlight

The colossal world of booze is full of questions and dilemmas. Are you drinking a pinot gris or pinot grigio? What's the best glass for that pilsner? How on earth do I make a refreshing cocktail with hibiscus?

Well, here at The Manual, we've got a few answers and tricks that will get you out of any drinks-related binds. One oft-misunderstood topic involves an age-old grape spirit. We're talking about cognac vs. brandy, specifically, and how the two are different.

Read more
Get creative: How to use hibiscus in your cocktails this spring
How to use hibiscus in cocktails
Alcoholic cocktail with pieces of fruit and berries in a bowl

Hibiscus is a great ingredient to incorporate into your cocktail game. Offering radiant color and a unique flavor, the flower is often converted to tea but also can be used as a syrup, lesser-known liqueur, soda, and more. And we especially like it in a good spring cocktail, as hibiscus is both floral and refreshing.

Why hibiscus in a cocktail? Because your mixology game could use a little creativity. There are enough boring cocktails out there made with the same old lineup of ingredients. Those are fine for regulars, but you're a budding cocktail artist.

Read more