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Paloma Cocktail Recipe – A Mexican Cooler

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Paloma is Mexico’s preferred tequila highball, and you’ll find it on many menus. Whether you’re vacationing, or making one at home, you’re bound to get into a good mood with this.

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What is Paloma ?

Paloma is a tequila highball that combines the earthy and slightly spicy notes of tequila with the tart and mildly earthy notes of grapefruit, balanced with a little sweetness and lime juice. The original Paloma is lost to time, but today’s recipe uses grapefruit soda in favor of fresh grapefruit juice.

That being said, fresh grapefruit juice does have its advantages, one of which is the extra zing of fresh citrus. You still need to top with club soda or sparkling water to get that bubbly finish, and perhaps a bit of simple syrup or agave syrup to sweeten to taste.

You’ll find Paloma in many menus in Mexico and even in the southern American states, so it’s got a pretty big fanbase.

paloma 2

Paloma Cocktail Recipe

Ioana Ciuraru
A Mexican favorite, the Paloma is perhaps one of the best ways to enjoy tequila.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 1


  • 2 oz tequila
  • 0.5 lime juice
  • grapefruit soda to top
  • lime/grapefruit garnish
  • salt rim optional


  • Build in glass, preferably a Collin's or highball filled with ice.
  • Add in tequila and lime juice, stir to mix.
  • Top with grapefruit soda of your choice.
  • Garnish with lime or grapefruit or both.


  • If you're doing the salt rim, do it before filling the glass with ice. Wet the rim of the glass with lime or grapefruit, and press it into a small dish filled with salt.
  • Some recipes call for freshly squeezed grapefruit juice + club soda, others call for grapefruit soda. I used grapefruit soda for a stronger flavor.

When is this drink best ?

I think the Paloma woks best whenever you’d need a refreshing highball, I think this drinks shines in the warm season. There’s something about the pale pink hue that makes it so appealing it’s hard to have just one. So perhaps this could also work on the beach, by the pool, at a wedding, or just any time you like. There’s nothing extra fancy about it but it just tastes and looks great.

My thoughts on Paloma

I found Paloma to be quite salty, but if you skip the salt rim that shouldn’t be a problem. The salt wasn’t an issue, but it was very noticeable.

The combination between tequila and grapefruit is a surprisingly good one, and I don’t think other citrus would work as well. Perhaps pomelo, since it shares some similarities with the grapefruit and is one of its ‘parents’.

Overall I found the Paloma refreshing, and a good way to get into tequila. I’m a newcomer to the flavor and found it overwhelming at first, but it seems in the right combination and with more exposure I’m starting to think better of tequila.

Keep in mind that mine turned out a little sweet, since I used grapefruit soda. If you use grapefruit juice+club soda it won’t be nearly as sweet, but you can supplement with simple syrup.

paloma making

If you like Paloma, you might also like…

Ranch Water – a Texas tequila cooler, with sparkling mineral water and lime

Salty Dog  – a tequila and grapefruit drink

Mexican Firing Squad – a tequila, grenadine, and bitters mix

Pomegranate Margarita – a Margarita with pomegranate juice

Tequila Coke – a simple mix of tequila and cola

Tequila Soda – an easy, refreshing drink with club soda

Notes, substitutes, and tips2

I don’t know when and how the grapefruit juice vs soda split came about, but you have a 50/50 shot of getting either in your drink, depending on the bar. I prefer the grapefruit soda since it’s getting toned down by the lime juice, and it also rounds out tequila. I need just a little bit of sweetness in my drinks.

The salt rim is optional, and is related to the classic tequila shots, with salt and lemon wedges. You can skip the salt or keep it, and I’ve see some bartenders mix a bit of ground cayenne pepper into the salt mix for an extra kick.

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