Hey friends! Today we’re making one of my favorite summer beverages–a Paloma cocktail with grapefruit juice! This perfect patio sipper is delicious on its own and is the perfect pairing for everything from Mexican food to barbecue.
While 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, but it could add an interesting twist to margaritas or our paloma cocktail with grapefruit juice.
If you do not have bar tools already, I would suggest getting a basic bartender kit/shaker set, since buying bar tools individually can get kind of pricey. If you want something more advanced, this Barfly kit offers a variety of options.
Cocktail Shaker – You’ll need a cocktail shaker to mix your paloma properly, along with a strainer if your shaker doesn’t have one built in. You can try stirring it instead, but the results won’t be the same. Shaking emulsifies the ingredients and adds air to the cocktail, altering the overall texture. Since we’re topping the cocktail with soda, however, shaking is probably slightly less crucial, but I’d still strongly recommend it.
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, or you don’t make cocktails often enough to justify the purchase of a jigger, graduated glass measuring cups are incredibly useful for measuring liquids in the kitchen, as well as making cocktails like the passionfruit La Croix hurricane.
Strainer – Depending on the type of cocktail shaker you’re using, it might have a strainer built in. Otherwise you’ll want to get a Hawthorne strainer. In a pinch, you can probably get away with not straining at all, as long as you’re using decent quality ice (from an ice cube tray, not the skinny ice maker kind), but it’s not ideal and won’t be a good option for most cocktails.
Citrus Juicer – While you can definitely cut limes into wedges and squeeze them by hand instead, 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.
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, and don’t forget to tag us on social media at @we_make_pretty. If you’d like to explore more cocktails, checkout our Passionfruit La Croix Hurricane or Strawberry-Infused Gin. Enjoy!
Paloma Cocktail with Grapefruit Juice
- 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.