Our Favorite Paloma Recipes For Your Cinco De Mayo Cocktail Mixing

The paloma is a fantastic cocktail. In fact, it might be my favorite tequila cocktail (it was also Uproxx’s official cocktail of Summer ’19). In its simplest form, it’s a mix of sharp grapefruit soda, lime, and tequila. From that foundation, you can enjoy it for the simple highball it is or amp up every aspect with small tweaks.

Below, we’re making two palomas of our own design. The first is the classic and very easy-to-make highball version, starring grapefruit soda, fresh lime, and tequila. The second is more cocktail bar-adjacent with fresh grapefruit juice and a few extra ingredients to really amp it up. Both have their merits and we’ll decide which is the best at the end.

We’re also dropping in two outside recipes, both served at Auberge Resorts in Los Cabos, where the company has two hotel properties. Those additions will give you something to compare and contrast our entries with and offer plenty of room for experimentation on Cinco. Let’s get mixing!

Classic Paloma


I’m using a fairly cheap tequila that’s made in Guadalajara. It’s a simple mixing tequila that won’t break the bank. I usually use Altos Plata, but I seem to have run out. I’m also using Jarritos Grapefruit. It’s a bit better and less sweet than Squirt or Fresca, in my opinion.

What You’ll Need:

  • 2-oz. blanco tequila
  • 4-oz. grapefruit soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • Lime garnish
    • Collins or highball glass
    • Hand juicer
    • Pairing knife
    • Pre-chill your highball glass.
    • Fill the glass halfway with ice.
    • Add the tequila, lime juice, and pinch of salt. Gently stir.
    • Drop in the squeezed lime rind and top with ice.
    • Top the drink with grapefruit soda.
    • Put in the straw and give it a small stir.

    Bottom Line:

    Goddamn! I love this drink. The sweet yet bitterly tart grapefruit soda works wonders with light, agave-forward tequila. The salt offers a nice savory counterpoint to all the citrus and tequila. This is crushable AF.

    Overall, this is my summer go-to and going to be hard to beat. So, let’s try!

    Fancy Paloma


    • 2-oz. blanco tequila
    • 1.5-oz. fresh grapefruit juice
    • 0.5-oz. fresh lime juice
    • 1 barspoon agave syrup
    • 1 barspoon apple cider vinegar
    • 3-oz. fizzy mineral water
    • Cayenne pepper
    • Chili pepper flakes
    • Lime wedge
    • Dried grapefruit wedge for garnish***

    The real x-factor to this drink is the apple cider vinegar. You don’t need much, but it brings this deep, fruity tartness that plays really well with the chili pepper, salt, and citrus.

    If you don’t have agave syrup, you can easily use standard bar simple syrup. I use it sparingly, which lets the grapefruit juice and tequila shine a bit brighter.

    Lastly, I’m not a fan of salt-rimmed glasses. So, I’m salting my rim very lightly as seen in the image above. You can easily completely cover your rim if that’s your jam.

    ***I made my own dried grapefruit wedges by putting thin slices of grapefruit into the oven on its lowest setting for about an hour (flipping once about halfway through).

    What You’ll Need:

    • Large rocks glass or highball
    • Cocktail shaker
    • Pairing knife
    • Small plate
    • Pre-chill your glass.
    • Add tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, agave syrup, and vinegar to the cocktail shaker.
    • Affix the lid and do a ten-second dry shake.
    • Combine a spoon of salt, cayenne, and chili flakes on a plate and swirl to combine.
    • Wet the rim of your glass with a lime wedge.
    • Roll the edge of the glass around in the salt/chili mix.
    • Fill the glass with fresh ice.
    • Pour the base mix into the glass.
    • Top with fizzy water.
    • Add the straw and gently stir.
    • Garnish with a grapefruit wedge.

    Bottom Line:

    These drinks are so drastically different that it’s hard to even judge them side by side. I’ll do my best.

    The latter version is exciting, lush, and deeply flavored while still being very refreshing and crushable. The spice really brings something bigger to the drink while the fresh grapefruit juice is much brighter. It’s the better drink. There, I said it.

    However… The original paloma with the Jarritos is somehow more engaging. It’s the one I keep reaching for instead. It’s also very fast and simple to make. So today, I’m going with the classic version over the fancy one. Final answer.

    Want two more paloma riffs? Check the recipes below!

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