Expert Tips For Making The Perfect Paloma

The Paloma is a tequila-based cocktail born in Mexico that belongs in any home mixologist's repertoire. While it's in the same vein as the more well-known margarita, the Paloma is the perfect choice for those who want less sweetness, as it delivers the ideal balance of bitter and sweet flavors. 

A traditional Paloma cocktail recipe calls for tequila, a sweetener like sugar or simple syrup, lime, grapefruit, and sparkling water. But you can simplify the process by mixing a can of grapefruit soda like Squirt and a few ounces of whatever tequila you have on hand to do the trick —or, go for more refined ingredients to take the drink to the next level.

David Ortiz, Corporate Beverage Director at Rocco's Tacos & Tequila Bar, is an expert on doing just that — and he's sharing his tips with Food Republic. As he said, "The secret is using a Fever-Tree Grapefruit soda and a Reposado Tequila such as Flecha Azul Reposado Tequila."

He recommends Reposado tequila for its brightness and balance, which perfectly complements the Paloma's citrus flavors without commandeering the whole drink. His favorite bottle, Flecha Azul Tequila Reposado, contains notes of praline, vanilla, sandalwood, and baking spice, bringing an unexpected warmth to contrast the drink's vibrant acidity. Paired with the perfect level of carbonation and more nuanced flavor of Fever-Tree's grapefruit soda, made using real fruit juice and without any artificial sweeteners, this Paloma comes together beautifully.

The details really matter for this bright cocktail

Every ingredient shines through in a simple, refreshing drink like the Paloma — precisely why expert David Ortiz is so specific about what he uses in his take on the cocktail. Beyond his suggested ingredients, there are a few other tips you can impart to make the perfect Paloma every

When it comes to the drinking glass, a highball glass works great for this drink, but handblown Mexican glassware or even a stemless wine glass make a Paloma feel like more of an occasion. Before pouring in the drink, most of which is prepared best in a cocktail shaker, fill the glass with ice and add a salted rim. However, when it comes to the grapefruit soda, since it happens to be carbonated, you'll want to avoid shaking it; instead pour it on top when the drink is ready. 

Once you've got the classic recipe down, you can experiment with other additions to add in new flavor notes, too. Take the drink in a spicy direction by using jalapeño simple syrup or adding in some sliced jalapeños. You could also swap the straight salt rim for a chipotle salt or tajin rim. Or add a rosemary sprig to elevate the drink's visual appeal and bring an herbaceous note to the drink. Garnish your glass with the tastiest grapefruit wedge and enjoy!