I prefer to make a paloma cocktail with grapefruit juice and a splash of soda water on top instead of grapefruit soda, but it’s worth mentioning that there are a few ways to make this. If you’d like to substitute jarritos, Squirt or Fresca in place of soda water, it will still absolutely delicious, so please feel free to experiment!
The grapefruit soda version is actually more common, as it was the original way to make a paloma, and some of those versions still have a small amount of juice added in.
History of the Paloma
I can’t help bringing up the cocktail without mentioning it’s history. While we have a pretty good idea of what the original cocktail contained, no one really knows for sure who invented it, how old it is or where it originated. Squirt claims to have been a “popular ingredient in refreshing cocktails such as palomas” since around 1950 (according to a time line from their website) although there seems to be little evidence that the paloma dates back that far.
I’ve found some fun advertisements from the 1960s & 1970s promoting Squirt cocktails. Tequila is mention as a possible mixer or float in some of their early advertisements (not pictured), but the company mostly seemed to be pushing gin, vodka, whiskey and rum.
Use Fresh Juice!!
Whenever possible, juice your own citrus for cocktails. It’s worth the extra step. With very few exceptions, bottled citrus juices taste completely different than fresh squeezed juice. If you are unable to find ripe grapefruit in your area, consider buying a premium grapefruit juice (definitely not Ocean Spray!). In the United States, I would recommend Natalie’s grapefruit juice (if you can find it). It’s also worth noting that they have a pretty tasty blood orange juice as well (not a sponsor-I’m just a fan). As for the lime, just juice it fresh! Trust me.
Chamomile Simple Syrup
We like to use our chamomile simple syrup in this recipe because it adds another layer of flavor with subtle floral notes. It’s also really easy to make since it’s basically just a strong chamomile infusion with sugar.
Selecting Your Tequila
Any blanco tequila should work well, as long as it’s 100% agave. If you want to avoid the cheapest bottle and get something slightly nicer, Cazadores is always a great option at around $22 per bottle. You can also try their reposado (aged two months in oak casks) for the same price. It will have a different flavor because of the oak and will add an interesting twist to to our paloma recipe or margaritas.
If you do not already have bar tools, I would strongly suggest getting a basic bartender kit/shaker set, especially if you want to make more cocktails in the future. Buying the tools individually can get kind of pricey. If you want something more advance, this Barfly kit offers a variety of options.
Cocktail Shaker – Shaking a cocktail is much different than stirring because it emulsifies the ingredients and adds air to the cocktail, altering the overall texture. I prefer to use a cocktail tin combined with a pint glass. You can also get a 3-in-1 shaker, which is sometimes easier for beginners, and could eliminate the need for a strainer as long as you don’t mind the occasional ice chip in your drink.
Jigger – A jigger is helpful for measuring ingredients, but if you don’t have a jigger, just keep in mind that a tablespoon is 1/2 an ounce. If you want more accurate measurements, but don’t make cocktails often enough to justify the purchase of a jigger, Anchor makes a graduated measuring cup that is super helpful for measuring liquids in the kitchen, and can easily be used for cocktails as well.
Strainers – If you’re using a 3-in-1 cocktail shaker, it should have a strainer built in. Otherwise you’ll want to get a Hawthorne strainer. You’ll also need a mesh strainer for straining citrus, along any cocktails you make in the future that need to be “double-strained.”
Citrus Juicer – While you can definitely squeeze a lime by hand, it can be fairly time-consuming. This Kitchenaid citrus squeezer is less messy than others because the juice catches in the bottom and pours out the side. To be clear, this option is for limes, lemons and small oranges, not for grapefruit.
Building the Paloma Cocktail with Grapefruit Juice
Making the cocktail is easy. Once you have your grapefruit, lime juice, and simple syrup ready, add the ingredients to a cocktail shaker and shake hard for about 25 seconds. This not only mixes and chills the ingredients, but also aerates and emulsifies, resulting a a different texture/mouthfeel that simply adding the ingredients to a glass and stirring. A pinch of salt, while optional, will help enhance the citrus flavors.
Straining is also important. As you shake the cocktail, the ice melts and gets smaller. Smaller ice results in a larger overall surface area of the ice, which will cause it to melt quicker. Straining over fresh ice will help keep the drink from getting watered down.
If you make this Paloma Cocktail with Grapefruit Juice, please share in the comments. If you’d like to explore more cocktails, checkout our Passionfruit La Croix Hurricane or Strawberry-Infused Gin. Enjoy!
Paloma Cocktail with Grapefruit Juice
- Cocktail Shaker
- Cocktail Strainer
- 2 oz Tequila blanco (100% agave)
- 2 oz Fresh grapefruit juice (preferably ruby red)
- .75 oz Fresh lime juice.
- .75 oz Chamomile simple (see note)
- Pinch of salt (optional)
- Splash of club soda
- Lime wheel or grapefruit wedge for garnish
- Add the tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, chamomile simple and a pinch of salt to your shaker.
- Fill with ice and shake hard for about 25-30 seconds.
- Strain over a 16oz glass and add fresh ice.
- Top with a small amount of soda water or grapefruit soda. Enjoy!
Find the full chamomile simple syrup post HERE.