Mexico’s favorite tequila-based drink
Tequila based? You’re probably thinking Margarita. But in Mexico, the most popular cocktail is pronounced “La Paloma.”
The Paloma is a tall, cool sipper. That – plus great flavor – makes it perfect for fighting summer’s heat. With the weather we’re having in our part of the world, we need all the coolth we can get.
Bring on The Paloma. Por favor.
Recipe: The Paloma Cocktail
The Paloma is a mixture of tequila, lime juice, and grapefruit soda. In Mexico, you’d probably use the Jarritos soda brand. That’s not easy to find in the US, so most drinkers use Squirt or Fresca (we prefer Squirt; see Notes).
You can make this drink with a salted rim (like a Margarita) if you want. But cocktail historian extraordinaire David Wondrich suggests adding a pinch of salt to the drink instead. We tried that, of course. And liked it, so that’s what we recommend.
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare, and serves one.
- 1½ to 2 ounces of tequila, preferably reposado (see Notes)
- ½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- a pinch of salt (optional, but recommended; see Notes)
- 2 to 4 ounces grapefruit soda (to taste; see Notes)
- garnish of a lime wheel or twist (optional; we like adding a little umbrella to the drink too, just because)
- Place the tequila, lime juice, and salt (if using) in a cocktail shaker half filled with ice. Shake until the contents are well combined and chilled (20 seconds or so).
- Strain into a tall glass filled with ice cubes. Top off with grapefruit soda. Add garnish, if desired, and serve.
- You can “build” this drink in a glass if you prefer: Fill the glass with ice cubes. Add the tequila, lime juice, and salt. Top with grapefruit soda. Stir briefly, add garnish if desired, and serve.
- The best tequila contains 100% agave, so that’s what we suggest you look for. Blanco/silver tequila will work in this drink, but we prefer the slightly smoother flavor of reposado (smoother because it’s been aged a bit).
- We strongly recommend adding the pinch of salt. It adds a bit of tangy seasoning that combines well with the tequila and lime juice.
- In the US, you can find several brands of grapefruit-flavored soda, notably Squirt and Fresca. We’ve heard that the Ting and Kiss brands are good, too, but we haven’t tried them.
- Squirt was the original grapefruit soda, and that’s what we like to use. BTW, you can buy Squirt in smallish cans – the perfect size for about two Palomas.
- Squirt soda dates back to 1938, when it was invented in Phoenix by Herb Bishop. Originally called Citrus Club, it was the first soft drink to contain grapefruit.
- Even though Squirt has a distinct grapefruit flavor, it actually contains less than 1% grapefruit juice. For those who take medications that can react badly with grapefruit, this is good to know. But do check with your doctor before consuming any grapefruit product if your medication has a label warning against it.
- So where and how did the Paloma Cocktail originate? No one knows. One popular story says it was created by Don Javier Delgado Corona, owner of a bar called La Capilla in Santiago de Tequila, Mexico. Whether Don Javier created the Paloma or not, he for sure created a cocktail called the Batanga, which is made with tequila, Coca-Cola, and lime juice.
- BTW, La Paloma means “the dove,” which is also the name of a popular Spanish song written in the 1850s. It’s possible the drink was named after the song.
Wings of the Dove
“Muy bueno,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “This one really takes flight.”
“Sí,” I said. “It has us cooing like turtledoves.”
“Don’t want to ruffle your feathers,” said Mrs K R. “But I’m guessing you’d like another round.”
“How did you know, my little chickadee?” I said.
“A little bird told me.”
You may also enjoy reading about:
Salty Dog Cocktail
Tequila Sunrise Cocktail
Straits Sling Cocktail
Planter's Punch Cocktail
Or check out the index for more