We all love a margarita, but if you ask me, this paloma cocktail is just as good! Made with grapefruit and lime juice, it's sweet, sour, and refreshing.
When Jack and I lived in Austin, we’d always order paloma cocktails on summer afternoons at Hula Hut. It had a big deck right on Lake Austin, and it was filled with people all summer long. We loved to sit there in the hot sun, sipping our cocktails and sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with friends.
Last weekend, the spring sun inspired us to make this paloma recipe at home. With just the two of us, our “scene” looked a bit different than our Hula Hut days, but we still had fun mixing up our drinks together. In fact, we’re already looking forward to making this paloma recipe again tomorrow. It’s really simple, and it’s a fresh alternative to other tequila drinks (looking at you, margarita). If you’re looking for a fun way to kick off the weekend, I hope you give it a try!
Paloma Cocktail Ingredients
A traditional paloma cocktail consists of tequila, lime juice, and grapefruit soda. My recipe is a fresher version of this classic combination. Here’s what’s in it:
- Tequila – Use any good-quality blanco tequila in this recipe. We like this brand, but feel free to use your favorite!
- Grapefruit juice and club soda – I swap the traditional grapefruit soda for a mix of grapefruit juice and sparkling water. For the best flavor, use freshly squeezed grapefruit juice!
- Lime juice – Along with the grapefruit juice, it makes this drink deliciously tart.
- Agave nectar or simple syrup – Because I don’t use soda in this recipe, I balance the sour/tart flavor of the grapefruit and lime with something sweet. I call for a small amount of agave or simple syrup, but don’t hesitate to add more to taste.
- Salt – For the rim of your glass! I like to use coarse sea salt, but kosher salt would work here too.
- Ice – A paloma cocktail is always better on the rocks!
Rub the rim of a highball glass or margarita glass with a grapefruit wedge, and dip it in a small plate of salt. Add the tequila, grapefruit juice, sparkling water, lime juice, and sweetener to the glass, stir to combine, and add ice to fill the glass. Sweeten to taste, and garnish with a grapefruit or lime wedge. Enjoy!
Find the full recipe with measurements below.
Paloma Recipe Tips
- Taste and adjust. Whenever you make a cocktail at home, taste and adjust to find a balance of flavors you love. If you prefer a sweeter paloma, add an extra splash of agave or simple syrup. For more tartness, squeeze in extra lime. Have fun making it the way you like it!
- If it’s too strong, let the ice begin to melt. If your paloma tastes too strong when you first try it, let it sit for a few minutes at room temperature. As the ice melts, it will dilute the drink. If it’s still stiffer than you’d like it to be, top your glass with more sparkling water.
- Change it up! I love this recipe as written, but it’s also delicious with mezcal. If you try this variation, you might want to add additional sweetener, to taste, to balance the smoky flavor. This paloma cocktail is also fantastic with some heat! To make it spicy, drop a few jalapeño slices into the tequila and let it sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before you make your drink.
More Favorite Cocktail Recipes
If you love this paloma recipe, try one of these cocktails next:
- Classic Margarita
- Mint Julep
- Watermelon Margarita
- Jalapeño Margarita
- Classic Mimosa
- Maple Ginger Hot Toddy
- 2 ounces tequila
- 2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice, plus wedges for garnish
- 2 ounces sparkling water
- ½ ounce lime juice
- ¼ ounce agave nectar or simple syrup, or to taste
- Coarse sea salt, for the rim of the glasses
- Salt the rim of the glass by rubbing a grapefruit wedge around the edge and dipping it onto a small plate of salt.
- Mix the tequila, grapefruit juice, sparkling water, lime juice, and agave nectar into the glass. Fill the remainder of the glass with ice. Adjust sweetness to taste. Garnish with grapefruit wedge.