Some cocktails are like air conditioning, but the paloma isn’t one of them. Rather, it makes you feel like you were born and raised in the tropics: You’ll still be hot, but you’ll revel and thrive in the heat. Many paloma recipes call for either fresh or bottled grapefruit juice, or grapefruit soda. For this version, freshly squeezed grapefruit juice mixed with finely grated zest and a little sugar develops overnight into a citrus-packed syrup that takes this cocktail from delicious to impossibly zingy, tangy, and satisfying. Be sure to factor in time for that long (but worth it) steep.
A microplane is the best tool for the job, as the outermost layer of grapefruit zest contains the most concentrated oil and just the right amount of bitter bite—any unintentional pith may make the mix overly bitter. The fizz from a splash of club soda added just before serving will help open up and distribute the grapefruit syrup’s aromas. Use any fresh grapefruit in season you can find, but the extra-sharp bite of white grapefruit is particularly delicious in a paloma, and imparts an elegant pale pink hue rather than the bright magenta of ruby grapefruit.
For those of you who wish to eschew the homemade route, Jarritos still makes the classic grapefruit (toronja) soda for a paloma. It’s crisp, tart, sweet, and refreshing, with the slightest hint of bitterness on the finish, and can be easily found at well-stocked Latin grocers.
A touch of salt shines a spotlight on the grapefruit’s inimitable flavor—fans of salt-rimmed cocktails will want to take note. Pour coarse salt onto a small plate, distribute the salt evenly over the surface, wet the edge of the glass with water or a squeezed-out grapefruit half, then gently invert the glass onto the plate and twist a few times to coat the rim. You can also use chili-infused, lime-infused, or smoked salt for extra complexity (and black or pink salt for added color).
- Prep time 5 minutes
- Serves 1
sugar equal to the volume of the grapefruit juice and zest
salt rim garnish (optional)
- Zest the grapefruit with a fine microplane, then juice it. Add the juice to the zest in a small bowl, then top with an equal volume of sugar, and shake to dissolve.
- Once fully incorporated, let the mixture rest overnight before straining it off into a clean jar.
- Combine tequila, lime juice, and grapefruit syrup in a shaker, and shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
- Strain the cocktail over a tall glass of fresh ice, top with club soda, and serve. If you're using pre-made juice or grapefruit soda, feel free to simply mix your drink to taste.