Quick and Easy


June  2, 2021
4 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland Prop Stylist: Megan Hedgpeth Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Serves 1
Author Notes

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).
Erik Lombardo

What You'll Need
  • 2 ounces tequila
  • 3/4 ounce lime juice
  • 3/4 ounce grapefruit syrup
  • 1 dash sugar equal to the volume of the grapefruit juice and zest
  • 1 splash club soda
  • salt rim garnish (optional)
  1. 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.
  2. Once fully incorporated, let the mixture rest overnight before straining it off into a clean jar.
  3. Combine tequila, lime juice, and grapefruit syrup in a shaker, and shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
  4. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • walkie74
  • Chef Carlos
    Chef Carlos
  • Suzanne Kay
    Suzanne Kay
  • Posie (Harwood) Brien
    Posie (Harwood) Brien

7 Reviews

walkie74 May 12, 2014
What if you're allergic to grapefruit?
Chef C. May 6, 2014
Couldn't find white grapefruit so I used Texas Red, the syrup was too sweet so I'd suggest cutting sugar in half. Limes are also problematic at the moment, so this is a good alternative to a fresh juice margarita. Just use good Plata tequila, 100% agave
Suzanne K. May 5, 2014
Where can I get these glasses?
Posie (. May 5, 2014
this is my favorite drink, and I love the idea of making it all from scratch!
Chef C. May 5, 2014
Now this one sounds great, but in Mexico they'd probably use Squirt!
sarah May 1, 2014
This page explains it better, brotger: http://food52.com/blog/10290-paloma-the-working-man-s-margarita
brotger May 1, 2014
Should the recipe read "3/4 ounces grapefruit juice" rather than "grapefruit syrup"?