The Paloma can hardly be classed as an obscure cocktail. And yet, for whatever reason, this humble tequila and grapefruit refresher always seems to live in the shadows of the Margarita. It’s a shame, really, and a bit of a surprise given the popularity of Spritzes, Highballs and agave-based spirits is at an all-time high.
Now that the weather is finally warming up, and spring is officially here, a Paloma is exactly what you want in your hand. They’re as easy to knock back as they are to build in a tall glass with lots of ice – a two-ingredient mixed drink with a simple, flexible ratio (one part tequila - a well-made bottle of blanco (or silver) from the likes of Milagro, Arquitecto, Rooster Rojo or Don Julio would be best - to three parts grapefruit soda) that allows for endless variation.
Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and soda water go a long way here, but if time is of the essence, look to local producers like StrangeLove or Capi for top-shelf grapefruit soda. A dash of sugar syrup or agave nectar will sweeten things up nicely, but should you wish to bring out some bolder flavours, swap tequila for mezcal or try juicing some in-season blood oranges. For a boozier take, consider adding a bar spoon of Campari or topping with sparkling wine. And while a salt rim is certainly optional, a squeeze of fresh lime to finish is key.
Pink grapefruit slice to wet the rim of the glass, and serve (optional)
Fine salt, for the glass rim (optional)
30ml tequila blanco
90ml pink grapefruit juice
Soda, to top
Rub the rim of a chilled tall glass with the grapefruit wedge, then dip into salt to create a salt rim. You can just do half of the glass, or leave off if desired. Add tequila and grapefruit juice. Swirl to combine, then top up with soda.
Words by Matty Hirsch. Recipe and image by Eatable.