How To Make A Paloma

When most Americans think of classic, tequila-based Mexican cocktails, it’s unlikely that the Paloma will be the first one they think of. Instead, they’re much more likely to gravitate towards the Margarita, which has garnered mass popularity north of the border. Still, the Paloma holds its own as a certified classic.

A simple build of blanco tequila, lime juice, grapefruit soda (Squirt, if you can find it), and a pinch of salt, the Paloma is citrusy, effervescent, and wildly refreshing. Its carbonation is the key, as the bubbles help to fuse all of the drink’s components and provide a lighter mouthfeel than, say, a Margarita. And just like the Marg, feel free to experiment with mezcal for added charred notes and complexity. The Paloma is also one of the 50 most popular cocktails in the world. To discover the other 49, check out the full list.

Paloma Ingredients

  • 2 ounces blanco tequila
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • Grapefruit soda, to top

Paloma Directions

  1. Combine tequila, lime juice, and salt in a shaker with ice.
  2. Shake until chilled.
  3. Strain into a highball filled with ice.
  4. Top with grapefruit soda
  5. Garnish with a lime wheel

Rate This Recipe:

(226 votes)

Yield: 1 Cocktail
Calories: 169
Updated: 2024-05-30

Listen To Our Cocktail College Paloma Podcast 

Paloma Recipe Video

Paloma FAQ

Why is the drink called a Paloma?

Many believe the Paloma gets its name from a 1906 Mexican folk song with the same name. The Mexican word “paloma” translates to “the dove” in English.

What is the difference between a Margarita and a Paloma?

While the Margarita and Paloma are similar in terms of both containing tequila and lime juice, a Margarita is sweetened with either triple sec or Cointreau, while a Paloma is sweetened with grapefruit soda.

History Of The Paloma

The Paloma, unlike many of the classic cocktails on the market today, did not exist prior to the prohibition era, and  arrived on the scene in the mid-1900s with the creation of Squirt, the original grapefruit soda used to mix the cocktail. Deemed The National Drink of Mexico, the Paloma has a complicated history surrounding who exactly it was that first created the drink, and why they decided to call it the Paloma.

For years, the creation of the cocktail was attributed to Texan bartender Evan Harrison, who allegedly wrote the first recipe for the Paloma in his pamphlet “Popular Cocktails of the Rio Grande.” An excerpt from the cocktail’s Wikipedia page (which has since been deleted) even read:

“The first published recipe for The Paloma is attributed to Evan Harrison in a 1953 pamphlet entitled, “Popular Cocktails of The Rio Grande,” but it was thought to be created by rival tavern manager Manual Gonzales who created it for his true love. Manuel had courted her for many years but when Evan published the drink in his pamphlet Manuel, in a fit of jealous rage, arrived to her small pueblo of La Guadalupe del Tortugas and shot both her and himself in front of her family as her fiesta de quince años. Legend has it his last words were ‘con limón, no es pomelo.” 

While there is in fact a Texan bartender named Evan Harrison in the Rio Grande area, given that the pamphlet was never registered with the copyright office and the Wikipedia entry with this outlandish tale was removed, it’s likely this version of events never truly occurred. Paired with the fact that the Paloma would have been invented 50 years before Evan Harrison was even born, it becomes impossible. It’s likely that Harrison and his friends thought they would get a laugh from this story and later deleted the entry when they realized how seriously people were taking it.

How To Make A Paloma

The most plausible story behind the creation of the Paloma can be traced back to Don Javier Delgado Corona, the owner of La Capilla bar in Tequila, Mexico. Provided that he is also credited with creating the Batanga (a mixed cocktail of tequila, Coca-Cola, and lime juice), it’s not a far stretch to credit him with the creation of the Paloma.

The Paloma, which traditionally was made with a shot of tequila and Squirt, has evolved to become the mixture we know today: tequila, grapefruit juice, lime, and salt. Popular celebrities including actress and model Molly Sims and comedian Amy Schumer have even put their own spins on the refreshing combo.

Paloma Variations To Try:

  • The Diamond Paloma - This riff on the classic Paloma cocktail features mezcal and was inspired by a Miami Beach hotel.
  • The Pisco Paloma - This Pisco cocktail has the grapefruit and lime flavors of a Paloma, the classic Mexican tequila drink.
  • The Paloma Paradiso - In this impossibly elegant take on the classic Paloma, cherry heering and fresh lime and pineapple juice complement tequila blanco.
  • The Winter Paloma - Our seasonal spin on a traditional Paloma, made with grapefruit soda, tequila, and mezcal, features winter fruits like cranberry and pomegranate.
  • Blood Orange Paloma - This Blood Orange Paloma is a riff on the classic cocktail, substituting blood orange soda for the traditional grapefruit for a refreshing alternative.
  • The Peruvian Paloma - By swapping Peruvian Pisco for tequila in this traditional Mexican cocktail, contributor Natalie Migliarini creates something new, bright, and delicious.