Last Friday, my neighbor Sandra had me over for dinner. When I arrived through the back porch, I followed a whirring sound into the kitchen, where I found Sandra standing in front of her blender with Julia Turshen’s Small Victories beside her, the page open to a recipe for "Paloma Slushies." Yes, I thought. But also: trouble. Long story short, by the end of the night, Sandra and I had polished off the serves-four batch of the tequila cocktail, and at one point, I told her I loved bulldozers, as I pet her bulldog, who sat by my feet. Cheers.
When I awoke from my tequila blur the following morning, I had so many questions. Namely, what other gaffs had I made? And what is a Paloma Slushie and where has it been my whole life? I made the trek back across the lawn to retrieve my copy of Small Victories, which Sandra, understandably, had trouble returning.
I soon learned that a paloma is similar to a margarita, but includes grapefruit juice. Julia’s version lends itself to large-batch mixing. The trick? Instead of juicing limes, you peel them and blitz them whole in a blender. Brilliant! And instead of salting the rims of glasses, you add salt directly to the mix, which Julia notes serves two purposes:
1. Reduces work
2. Enhances the flavor of the grapefruit and lime juices. It's genius.
As I read through Julia’s variations for pomegranate juice, hibiscus tea, and blood orange juice, I wondered: “Could I replace the grapefruit juice with something more summery? Could I make red, white, and blue Paloma slushies for the Fourth?” In the name of research, I broke out my blender and the tequila and set to work peeling limes, hulling strawberries, and stemming blueberries. My boozy, patriotic slushies came together in no time, and while the hue of each didn’t perfectly emerge as envisioned, each cocktail was festive and delicious nonetheless.
What I Learned
- Slushies are fun. Fresh out of the blender, poured over ice, these palomas have frothy caps. They're surprising and refreshing, a nice change from many on-the-rocks summer cocktails.
- As with cooking, drink making requires tasting and adjusting. Strawberries worked nearly seamlessly in place of grapefruit juice, while blueberries needed a little help: more fresh lime juice to balance their sweetness. Depending on the fruit you choose, you will need to add lime and sweetener to taste.
- Large-batch drink making need not be taxing. When I play host, I often shy away from drink making, opting instead to serve beer and wine. But this Paloma Slushie experience has boosted my cocktail-making confidence. Peeling limes and whizzing them whole with fruit into an icy whirl is simple, satisfying, and fun. As I blitzed, I found myself chanting this: “One small victory for Julia Turshen, one giant leap for Alexandra Stafford.” Replace my name with yours—I have no doubt you’ll enjoy the ring.
- 4 limes
- 1/4 cup (85g) honey or agave syrup, see notes above
- 1 cup grapefruit juice or 3 to 4 cups strawberries or blueberries, see notes above
- 1 cup (240 ml) tequila
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 cups (720) ice cubes
What cocktails will you be making this summer? Let us know in the comments!