In Search of the Perfect: Paloma
When people think of the “signature” cocktail of Mexico, they immediately come to the conclusion that it must be the Margarita. That, however, couldn’t be farther from the truth. One of the most popular local drinks is actually the Paloma – a refreshingly sweet, light tequila-based drink that’s perfect for the hot summer months in both Mexico and America.
History of the Paloma
Like most cocktails, the origins of the Paloma are a little hazy. One of the major conjectures is that it’s named after the 1860s popular folk song La Paloma (“The Dove”). The Paloma is traditionally made with grapefruit-flavored soda, especially the local Jarritos soda, and served on the rocks.
Mexico is not known for potable water so they tend to stick to drinks like beer and grapefruit soda. These two drinks also help deal with the ridiculously hot and humid climate, especially in southern Mexico.
How to Make a Paloma
2 oz Tequila
½ oz Lime Juice
1 dash of salt
Garnish with a lime wedge
Combine all ingredients except the grapefruit soda into a tall tumbler glass. Add ice and top with the grapefruit juice. Stir all the ingredients. Add the garnish. David Wondrich of Esquire says that you can add the salt either to the drink or to the rim of the glass. He says that whatever you do, don’t take it out completely.
*If you can’t find grapefruit soda, most places substitute either Squirt or Fresca, which both have grapefruit in them. According to Matt Lanning, a Denver bartender, another alternative is to use lemon-lime or club soda with a splash of grapefruit juice or grapefruit bitters.
Tequila Brands to Try:
Try one of these brands when you make a Paloma at home:
- Tequila Ocho Reposado or Blanco
- Herradura Blanco
- El Tesoro Platinum
- Espolon Blanco
- El Jimador Blanco
Where to Find the Perfect Paloma in Denver
P17 has a twist on the Paloma called the Harvey. This drink – of course – has tequila and grapefruit, but then twists up the traditional recipe by adding muddled basil, house-made mint/lime syrup and a rim of jalapeno sea salt.
Vesper Lounge went modern with its Paloma, featuring a “kegged” version of the cocktail. Serving the Paloma on draft adds additional depth to the cocktail.
Cuba Cuba features a boozier, more “Cuban Paloma” with white rum and tequila. It also skips grapefruit soda, preferring to use fresh grapefruit, lime, sugar and soda water.
Machete Tequila and Tacos features a simplified, but still tasty Paloma with just Herradura Silver and fresh grapefruit juice.
Both locations of JAX Fish House and Oyster Bar have Palomas. The Denver location (1539 17th St.) features a Seasonal Paloma with seasonal-infused tequila and grapefruit lemon lime soda. The Boulder location’s (928 Pearl St, Boulder) Paloma has a bit of a kick with habanero-infused tequila, citronge, grapefruit and lime.