Paloma Cocktail Recipe

The Paloma cocktail is a refreshing, fruity tequila cocktail that’s perfect for summertime. It combines the tangy taste of grapefruit and lime with the smooth kick of tequila.

Paloma cocktail on table with grapefruit slice and salt rim

Whether you’re lounging by the pool or kicking it at a summer get-together, the Paloma will totally satisfy your thirst and make you want another round. 

Origin of the Paloma Recipes

The Paloma is a popular cocktail in Mexico, especially in the region of Tequila, Jalisco where tequila is widely produced. The name “Paloma” translates to “dove” in Spanish.

The exact origin of the Paloma is somewhat unclear and lost to history. It’s believed to have been created in the 1860s around the same time as tequila became popular.

Some theories suggest that it was named after a popular folk song named “La Paloma,” which was composed around the same time and gained wide popularity.

The first written recipe for a Paloma appears to be from a 1953 pamphlet published by Squirt soda company, suggesting that bartender Don Javier Delgado Corona included grapefruit soda (like Squirt) in his version of the drink at his bar La Capilla in Tequila, Mexico.

However, there are many variations of this cocktail today with different methods of preparation and presentation. Some versions replace grapefruit soda with fresh grapefruit and lime juices topped up with soda water.

Common ingredients found across most variations include: 

  • Tequila 
  • Lime juice 
  • Grapefruit flavored soda or fresh grapefruit juice
  • Salt for rimming the glass

How to Make a Paloma Cocktail

This is a relatively easy one. 

  1. Start by rimming your glass with salt for a classic touch. Use grapefruit or lime juice to wet the rim to make the salt stick.
  2. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, pour in all the ingredients except the soda water and shake until it’s chilled – about 15-20 seconds.
  3. Strain the mixture into your salt-rimmed glass.
  4. Top it off with soda water to add a refreshing fizz.
  5. Garnish your Paloma cocktail with a slice of grapefruit to add a citrusy touch.

Now you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your delicious homemade Paloma cocktail!

How It’s Different From a Margarita

The Paloma and Margarita are both popular tequila drinks that originate from Mexico, but they have some key differences in their ingredients and taste profiles.

While both drinks use tequila as their base spirit and have a citrus profile, Palomas use grapefruit juice and soda (or grapefruit soda) for sweetness and Margaritas use orange liqueur and additional sweeteners. 


  • Main Spirit: Tequila
  • Secondary Ingredient(s): Fresh lime juice, grapefruit juice and club soda, or grapefruit soda (like Squirt or Jarritos), a pinch of salt.
  • Garnish: Grapefruit slice and salt rim on the glass.
  • Taste Profile: The Paloma has a refreshing citrus flavor with a balance of sweetness and tartness from the grapefruit soda. The salt adds an extra layer that contrasts the sweet and sour notes.


  • Main Spirit: Tequila
  • Secondary Ingredient(s): Fresh lime juice, orange liqueur (like Triple Sec or Cointreau), simple syrup or agave nectar.
  • Garnish: Lime wheel and salt rim on the glass.
  • Taste Profile: Margaritas also have a citrus profile but tends to emphasize the tartness of the lime juice more, balanced by the sweetness of the orange liqueur and sweetener.

The Best Tequila for a Paloma Cocktail

When it comes to making the perfect Paloma drink, choosing the right tequila is crucial. Here are some tequila options that work well with this refreshing drink:

  1. Silver or Blanco Tequila: This type of tequila is commonly used for Paloma cocktails due to its clean and crisp flavor. It pairs well with the citrusy notes of the grapefruit and lime.
  2. Reposado Tequila: If you want to add a touch of smoothness and subtle complexity to your Paloma cocktail, go for reposado tequila. It has been aged in oak barrels, which imparts a mellow and slightly woody flavor.
  3. Añejo Tequila: For a Paloma cocktail with rich and bold flavors, opt for añejo tequila. This type of tequila is aged for a longer period, resulting in deep and complex taste profiles. It adds a distinct richness to the cocktail.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different tequila brands and types to find the one that suits your taste preferences best.

Whether you prefer the clean simplicity of silver tequila or the depth of flavor offered by añejo tequila, the choice is yours to make. 

Tips for Garnishing a Perfect Paloma Cocktail

When it comes to garnishing your Paloma cocktail, there are a few tips to keep in mind to make it visually appealing and enhance the flavors. Here are some ideas:

  1. Rim your glass: For a decorative and flavorful touch, rim your glass with kosher salt. This classic technique adds a nice contrast to the citrusy flavors of the cocktail.
  2. Add fresh fruit slices: Use fresh grapefruit slices, lime wedges, or grapefruit twists to garnish your Paloma cocktail. These not only make the drink look more enticing but also add an extra burst of citrussy flavor.
  3. Get aromatic: Adding a sprig of fresh mint or a basil leaf can add a refreshing aroma to your Paloma cocktail. The aromatic herbs complement the citrus notes and create a more complex and delightful drinking experience.
  4. Cut a notch: When garnishing with a grapefruit slice, don’t forget to cut a small notch in it to fit it onto the rim of your glass. This ensures that the garnish stays in place and adds an elegant touch to the presentation of your cocktail.

Experiment with different garnishes and combinations to find the perfect finishing touches for your Paloma cocktail. Remember, presentation is key and these garnishes can elevate your drinking experience to a whole new level.

If You Like a Sweeter Cocktail

Note that this recipe calls for you to use agave or simple syrup to sweeten it to your liking. It would be very tart without any sweetener, so experiment by adding a little at first, then a little more, until you find the right amount for you.

Paloma cocktail on table with grapefruit slice and salt rim

Best Paloma Cocktail Recipe

Yield: 1 drink
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

The Paloma cocktail is a refreshing citrusy drink. The tangy flavors of grapefruit juice and lime with the smoothness of tequila make it perfect for summer.


  • 2 ounces tequila
  • 3 ounces fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 2 ounces sparkling water
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • Agave syrup or simple syrup to taste
  • Coarse sea salt, for the rim of the glasses


  1. Rim a glass with salt.
  2. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  3. Pour in all the ingredients, except for the soda water.
  4. Shake until chilled.
  5. Strain the mixture into the glass.
  6. Fill the glass with fresh ice.
  7. Top with soda water.
  8. Garnish with grapefruit wedge.

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Last Updated:

April 9, 2024