Win Summer (and Life) With Boozy Paloma Slushies

June 29, 2017

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.

Uh oh, I smell (and hear) trouble! Photo by Alexandra Stafford

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.

This experience has boosted my cocktail-making confidence
This is a very nifty technique if you want lots and lots of lime juice at once. Photo by Alexandra Stafford

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:

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1. Reduces work

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Top Comment:
“If you use a Vita-Mix or similar machine, do you need to peel the limes?”
— Carolyn C.

2. Enhances the flavor of the grapefruit and lime juices. It's genius.

Just add tequila. Photo by Alexandra Stafford

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.

Happy Birthday, America! Photo by Alexandra Stafford

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.
Look out for that frothy top. Photo by Alexandra Stafford
  • 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.

What cocktails will you be making this summer? Let us know in the comments!

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  • draya3
  • mmann15
  • Carolyn Cass
    Carolyn Cass
  • Alexandra Stafford
    Alexandra Stafford
I write the blog alexandra's kitchen, a place for mostly simple, sometimes fussy, and always seasonal recipes. My cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs is available everywhere books are sold.


draya3 July 5, 2017
Wondering if cucumber would work?
Alexandra S. July 6, 2017
Cucumber sounds delicious. I think you'll just have to adjust to taste — you might need a touch more agave.
mmann15 July 4, 2017
Has anyone tried this with something other than tequila? 'Vodka, gin? If so, comments?
Alexandra S. July 6, 2017
I have not, but I imagine either gin or vodka would be fine.
Carolyn C. June 29, 2017
If you use a Vita-Mix or similar machine, do you need to peel the limes?
Alexandra S. June 29, 2017
Gosh, I don't know, but my gut is telling me yes, you probably should still peel the limes.