In Search Of: The Perfect Paloma

(Photo: Misty Faucheux)

(Photo: Misty Faucheux)

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
*Grapefruit Soda
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
(Photo: Misty Faucheux)

(Photo: Misty Faucheux)

Where to Find the Perfect Paloma in Denver

Pinches Tacos in the Highlands and LOLA use the traditional recipe, but couldn’t decide between grapefruit soda and grapefruit juice so they use both.

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.

About Misty Faucheux

Who am I? Always a good question, often without a conclusive answer. What I can tell you is that I love to travel, eat, drink and have fun. I'm also a digital marketing geek, working in social media, SEO and content marketing. Get to know me at

  • ElPelonGuero

    I’ve found that using mezcal instead of tequila makes takes this to another level. It is a common variation that you’ll find in Mexico. Comal in Berkely as well as Limantour in the DF do an excellent smokey mezcal version.

  • Misty Faucheux

    Thanks for the suggestion. I’ll definitely have to check those out!