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paloma cocktail in a glass with grapefruit garnish and salt lick

Paloma Cocktail – Perfect Recipe from Mexico

Do you like the Paloma cocktail? It is one of the best known tequila based drinks. In Mexico, and in border areas such as New Mexico or Texas, this combination is so popular that it is even sold in cans.

The Paloma is a perfect thirst quencher. And not just in summer! 

The slightly bitter citrus flavor from grapefruit characterizes this drink. We explain where the mixture of tequila, grapefruit and a little salt comes from and how to prepare it.

The Story behind Paloma

In Mexico there is a long tradition of infusing tequila with various lemonades. The lemonades often came from across the border from USA. As the American cocktail historian David Wondrich researched, grapefruit lemonade in the form of the Squirt brand came across the border to Mexico in the 1950s.

Even though the Paloma drink may have been served in Mexican bars earlier, the first written mention is only from 1997. Nancy Zaslavsky called it A Lazy Man’s Margarita in her book A Cook’s Tour of Mexico.

Indeed, the Paloma plays with the same basic ingredients of margarita, the most famous of all tequila cocktails: tequila, citrus juice and sugar. But it can be prepared much faster.

About the origins of the Paloma – nobody knows exactly who invented this concoction. But there is a tale that is quite interesting and ties in well with Mexico’s habit of mixing Tequila and juice.

This story attributes the tequila cocktail to the 93-year-old Mexican bartender Javier Delgado Corona. He has been running his La Capilla bar in Tequila, Mexico since time immemorial. In all likelihood, he also invented his signature drink there. This drink is the Batanga: cola, tequila , lime, salt rim. 

Basically a salty cuba libre with tequila instead of rum. Because it is basically a Paloma with cola, Corona is also credited with the grapefruit drink that was created later. 

That this fairly simple story is so likable is down to the man himself. You can read more about him in this article about Javier Delgado Corona

So, how do you make the Paloma?

Recommended: Another cocktail with Grapefruit juice and salt – The Salty Dog

Authentic Recipe for Paloma

Paloma Cocktail

Do you like the Paloma cocktail? It is one of the best known tequila based drinks. In Mexico, and in border areas such as New Mexico or Texas, this combination is so popular that it is even sold in cans.
Prep Time5 mins
Total Time5 mins
Course: apertif
Cuisine: alcoholic cocktail, Mexican
Servings: 1 person
Calories: 120kcal


  • 2 oz Tequila
  • 0.5 oz Lime juice
  • 1 pinch Course salt large pinch
  • 4 oz Grapefruit lemonade adjust according to taste
  • Agave Syrup according to taste


  • Pour the tequila and lime juice in a highball glass full of ice.
  • Add a pinch of salt and stir briefly.
  • Top it up with grapefruit lemonade and serve.


The usual mixing ratio in a Paloma is 2 parts grapefruit soda on 1 part tequila – ergo you need 4 oz grapefruit soda for our recipe.
In practice, however, you will simply pour the lemonade into the glass until it is full and the ice cubes are covered. There is nothing wrong with that, especially because you have to balance the lime and the grapefruit soda in a Paloma.

Suggested Drink: The Bitter Sweet Gin Tonic

What does the Paloma Taste like?

Sweet, acidic, a little salty and a slightly bitter. Every sip of Paloma leaves a kind of tingling refreshment that makes you reach back for the glass again and again. It is therefore considered one of the best summer cocktails.

But in our opinion, you can also enjoy them on a fully staffed counter on a winter day. Depending on the lemonade used, the cocktail can have a light pink (from pink grapefruit) or a bright yellow color.

Ready-made VS Homemade Grapefruit Soda

If you use the Google image search for Paloma Cocktail, you will discover a lot of really cool, tasty looking cocktails. The most visually appealing of them have a pinkish hue.

Our first Paloma was rather pale yellow with a hint of pink in it. Why is that so? 

Because we did not have grapefruit juice at hand. So we mixed the Paloma with a homemade grapefruit soda made from fresh grapefruit.

The variant with fresh grapefruit has taste advantages and is preferable to most sodas from the shop. But the fresh juice Paloma remains yellowish at best, unlike the version with the ready made soda. 

However, the grapefruit soda from Ting has a good taste, is 100 percent more beautiful in color. This means significantly less work in making the Paloma!

How to make fresh Grapefruit Soda at home

Squeeze a grapefruit, mix the juice in 1:1 ratio with highly carbonated water. Then add sugar syrup and/or lemon juice as required until it tastes good to you. 

For example, in 4 oz (120 ml) grapefruit juice (that’s how much you get from a grapefruit on average) and 5 oz (120 ml) of water, we add about 0.5 oz (15 ml) of sugar syrup and 0.5 oz (15 ml) of lemon juice. If you like, you can also use lime juice.

The right Tequila for Paloma

For tequila, the standard Paloma recipe recommends a Blanco – a white one. If you favor Reposado over Blanco, you can also go with that. Here are a few recommendations, basically the sames ones as for the Margarita.

Don Julio Tequila Blanco

Don Julio Blanco

corralejo blanco tequila

Corralejo Blanco

exotico Blanco tequila

Exotico Blanco

Olmeca tequila blanco

Olmeca Blanco

pueblo viejo blanco tequila

Pueblo Viejo Blanco

tres agaves blanco tequila bottle

Tres Agaves Blanco

Best ready made Grapefruit Sodas

We tried our Palomas with the following ready-made grapefruit sodas. Ting was the best of the lot, but the others were not bad. Take your pick!



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