Perfect Paloma Cocktail Recipe: A Refreshing Grapefruit Classic

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Paloma image by

The Paloma, a timeless and refreshing cocktail now found on many a bar menu, has captured the hearts of cocktail enthusiasts around the world. With its crisp and tangy flavors, this drink offers a delightful escape from the ordinary.

In this guide, we'll dive into the origins of Palomas, explore its key ingredients, discuss the best tequila cocktails, and provide a step-by-step recipe so you can easily make a paloma drink or three! (Image from

Pssst. White's Elixirs uses real grapefruit juice and natural ingredients in its Paloma Mix!

Origins of the Paloma

Now one of the most popular tequila drinks, the origins of the Paloma cocktail trace back to Mexico, where it has long been a beloved classic.

Grapefruit farm

Unlike its cousin, the Margarita, which is known for its strong citrus notes, the Paloma Cocktail stands out for its prominent grapefruit flavor. This refreshing concoction is said to have gained popularity in the 1950s, offering a lighter and fruitier alternative to traditional tequila-based drinks.

The name "Paloma" translates to "dove" in Spanish, evoking the gentle and invigorating essence of this favorite drink.

Key Ingredients of the Paloma

To create the perfect Paloma Cocktail, you'll need a handful of key ingredients that harmonize to deliver its signature taste:

Blanco Tequila: The heart of the Paloma lies in the choice of tequila. Opt for a high-quality tequila blanco for its clean and crisp characteristics, allowing the citrus to shine through.

Fresh Lime Juice: The tanginess of lime juice complements the grapefruit, adding a zesty and vibrant twist to the paloma cocktail.

Grapefruit Juice or Grapefruit Soda: The star ingredient, fresh squeezed grapefruit juice or grapefruit soda, imparts the distinct and refreshing grapefruit taste that defines the Paloma. Do read the ingredients list on bought grapefruit juices and grapefruit soda. They're not all created equal!

Agave Nectar: To balance the tartness of the citrus juices, a touch of agave nectar or simple syrup adds a touch of sweetness.

Kosher Salt Rim: A salt rim not only enhances the presentation of the drink but also offers a delightful contrast to the citrusy and slightly bitter notes.

Flaky sea salt

Feeling a bit fancy, are we? Flaky sea salt is here to add a touch of elegance. These delicate, thin flakes dissolve on your tongue, giving you a burst of salty goodness without overwhelming your taste buds.

Club Soda or Sparkling Water: For an effervescent touch, lime club soda or lime sparkling water elevates the cocktail's refreshing qualities.

Don't forget to add ice to your list.

Lime slices and a grapefruit wedge for garnish.

Best Tequila for Paloma Cocktails

Honestly, for many of us bartenders, the answer could be "all tequila."Blanco tequila

When selecting tequila for your Paloma, though, many suggest looking for a high-quality blanco. Blanco, also known as silver or white tequila, is un-aged and maintains the purest agave flavors.

Complex aged tequilas, such as añejo or reposado tequila, can also be experimented with, though for some palates their complex flavors can overpower the cocktail's simplicity.

Step by Step Easy Paloma Recipe

Follow these steps to create a flawless Paloma that will leave your taste buds doing the salsa (and even better - it requires so few ingredients):

  1. Prepare the Salt Rim: Begin by moistening the rim of your glass with a lime wedge. Dip the rim into kosher salt to create a salt rim.

  2. Add Ice: Fill the glass with ice cubes, ensuring it's chilled and ready for the cocktail.

  3. Mixing the Cocktail: In a cocktail shaker, combine 2 oz of blanco tequila, 1 oz of freshly squeezed lime juice, and a pinch of salt.

  4. Adding Agave Nectar or Simple Syrup: To balance the flavors, add ½ oz of agave or simple syrup to the cocktail shaker. You can also buy White's Elixirs Simple Syrup, made with pure cane sugar, here!

  5. Shake It Up: Secure the shaker's lid and vigorously shake the mixture for about 15 seconds, ensuring the tequila and other ingredients are well combined and chilled.

  6. Pouring the Mixture: Strain the mixture from the cocktail shaker into the prepared glass filled with ice.

  7. Grapefruit Flavor: Top off the cocktail with 3 oz of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and a quick pour of club soda or even grapefruit soda for fizziness, if desired.

  8. Give it a gentle stir!

  9. Garnish: For a final touch, garnish your Paloma with a grapefruit or lime wedge, or both, for a burst of citrus aroma.

Sipping in Style: Glassware that the Paloma Cocktail Wants to Party With!

Let's talk about the VIP treatment your Paloma deserves. We're diving into the world of glassware!

hiball glass

Highball Glass: Picture this: a tall, slender glass that's like a runway for your Paloma. It's got space for ice, tequila, grapefruit juice, and grapefruit soda or club soda. And the best part? The wide opening captures all the aromas, so every sip is like a front-row experience.

Collins Glass: Behold, the BFF of the Paloma drink – the Collins glass. It's like the highball's cool cousin, with the same length but a bit more attitude. You've got space for ice, cocktail goodness, and a touch of class.

Stemless Wine Glass: Who says wine glasses are just for wine? Show off your Paloma's vibrant color and let those aromas do the cha-cha in a stemless wine glass. It's like a dance floor for your taste buds!

Mason Jar: Yup, we're taking the Paloma Cocktail to the country fair with a mason jar. It's laid-back, it's casual, and it's saying, "Let's have a good ol' time!"

Rocks Glass: Not your traditional Paloma partner, but who said you can't mix things up? The rocks glass is like the Paloma's secret rendezvous spot – smaller but oh-so-cozy. Plus, its rim can hold even more salt!

Decorative Glassware: Ready to party like it's 1920? Vintage glasses, colored glass, and funky shapes are like the funky hats of the cocktail world. They say, "Yeah, we're here to have fun!"

Commonly Asked Questions About Palomas

What's the difference between a Paloma and a Margarita?

margarita and paloma

While both cocktails feature tequila, the Paloma Cocktail showcases grapefruit and is typically less potent than the Margarita.

Can I use bottled juice instead of fresh?

Freshly squeezed juice provides the best results, but bottled can be used if fresh isn't available. And we're a little biased, but we think our White's Elixirs Paloma Mix, which has real grapefruit juice, makes brilliant grapefruit cocktails!

Is a Paloma a strong cocktail?

The Paloma is a well-balanced cocktail with a moderate alcohol content, making it a suitable choice for various occasions. You can always add more soda to dilute potency.

Can I make a Paloma without tequila?

While tequila is the traditional base spirit for a Paloma recipe, you can certainly experiment with substitutions.

For instance, you can replace tequila with vodka to create a Vodka Paloma drink, or try using mezcal for a smoky twist.

Recipe Ideas for Variations on Palomas

Grapefruit Spicy Paloma

Spicy Paloma: Add a dash of chili powder or a slice of jalapeño for a spicy kick that contrasts the sweetness.

Smoky Paloma: Incorporate a smoky flavor by using a mezcal instead of tequila. Garnish with a flaky sea salt rim and a lime wheel.

Skeletor's Tiki Paloma

Fruity Paloma: Experiment with other fruit juices like orange juice or passion fruit to introduce new layers of flavor. Or make it tiki with rum!

Exploring Grapefruit Cocktails Beyond the Paloma Recipe

While the Paloma stands as a shining star in the world of grapefruit-infused cocktails, there are several other delightful concoctions that harness the unique flavors of this tangy fruit.

Here's a roundup of some noteworthy options:

Hemingway Daiquiri

A tribute to the famous author, the Hemingway Daiquiri combines white rum, maraschino liqueur, fresh grapefruit juice, and lime juice.

This cocktail offers a balanced blend of sweet and tangy notes, adding a refreshing twist to the classic Daiquiri.


The Greyhound cocktail is a simple and elegant mix of vodka and freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. Its minimalistic approach highlights the natural flavors of the fruit, resulting in a crisp and invigorating drink.

Salty Dog

salt hound salty dog cocktail riff
Similar to the Greyhound, the Salty Dog adds a unique touch by rimming the glass with salt.
This gin-based cocktail combines the botanical notes of gin with the citrusy goodness of grapefruit, creating a harmonious blend of flavors.

Paloma Negra

A sophisticated twist on the classic Paloma drink, the Paloma Negra combines mezcal with grapefruit juice, lime juice, and agave. The smoky flavor of mezcal pairs beautifully with the bright and zesty grapefruit.

Southside Fizz

This gin-based cocktail features a combination of gin, fresh grapefruit juice, lime juice, mint leaves, and club soda. The herbal and citrusy notes come together in a fizzy and invigorating libation.

Eastside Rickey

A refreshing gin cocktail, the Eastside Rickey combines gin, fresh grapefruit juice, lime juice, simple syrup, and club soda. The grapefruit provides a citrusy twist to this effervescent drink.


For those seeking a tropical escape, the Tropicália cocktail offers a blend of light rum, Aperol, grapefruit juice, and passion fruit puree.

Frosé Paloma

A frozen delight, the Frosé Paloma combines the Paloma's classic grapefruit with the popular frozen rosé trend. Blend together frozen rosé, grapefruit juice, tequila, and agave nectar for a refreshing and slushy treat.

Bitter Paloma

Taking a bitter turn, the Bitter Paloma swaps soda with grapefruit bitters and tonic water. This complex cocktail features gin, bitters, tonic water, and a grapefruit twist for garnish.


Whether you're celebrating Cinco de Mayo, hosting a summer barbecue, or simply craving a refreshing escape, mastering the art of crafting the perfect Paloma recipe will undoubtedly elevate your cocktail game.

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