Paloma Cocktail Recipe – Cookie and Kate

paloma cocktail recipe

Love a good paloma? Me, too. The paloma is a delightfully fizzy grapefruit, lime and tequila cocktail hailing from Mexico. If you enjoy a Greyhound, grapefruit margarita or ranch water, this cooling drink is right up your alley.

South of the border, palomas are typically made with grapefruit soda like Squirt or Jarritos, which taste similar to Sprite to me. Up here, bartenders often mix them with fresh grapefruit juice and sparkling water instead. I prefer mine to be less sweet and more citrusy, so I love the made-from-scratch option.

paloma ingredients

This paloma recipe is made from scratch with basic ingredients. You’ll need tequila, fresh grapefruit and lime, simple syrup (which is very easy to make), and Topo Chico or sparkling water. Make them at home with top-shelf tequila and you’ll enjoy a better paloma for less money than you’d pay a restaurant.

To make this paloma, we’ll shake everything but the Topo Chico in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shaking the ingredients together yields the kind of paloma you’d receive at a fancy cocktail bar. It’s a brief step that is worth the extra effort.

Finally, we’ll pour the mixture into a glass filled with ice and top it with Topo Chico to retain all those glorious bubbles. You can watch how it all comes together in the brief video below.

how to make a paloma

Paloma Ingredients

This paloma cocktail is made with five simple ingredients, plus an optional pinch of salt. Serve it over ice in a highball glass. Here’s what you’ll need to make one:

1) Tequila Blanco

Tequila blanco is key. Tequila blanco is also known as tequila plata, or white or silver tequila in English. Since it’s bottled soon after it’s distilled, it’s generally colorless and offers the purest tequila flavor. Aged tequilas (reposado or añejo) taste smoky and will dominate the citrus flavors, so I don’t recommend them for palomas.

For palomas, I recommend Casamigas, Espalon or Milagro. They’re my top brands for all tequila cocktails. Always choose 100 percent agave tequila so you know exactly what you’re buying. Cheaper tequila mixtos contain a blend of alcohols and additives that can contribute to hangovers.

2 & 3) Fresh Grapefruit and Lime

Fresh-squeezed grapefruit and lime taste better than store-bought juices. The fresh citrus juice cuts the taste of the alcohol. To make one cocktail, you’ll need one small-to-medium lime and half of a grapefruit.

Juicing tips: Quarter the grapefruit and squeeze the juice into a measuring cup. To get the most lime juice from your lime, roll it firmly under your hand against the countertop before slicing. I like to use this citrus juicer to get every last drop, and I squeeze the juice directly into this measuring jigger (affiliate links).

4) Simple Syrup

A small amount of simple syrup brings this cocktail together. It softens the rough edges of the alcohol and citrus and yields a lovely sipper. To make simple syrup, warm equal parts water and sugar (or honey) in a small pan on the stove or a bowl in the microwave. Stir until the sugar dissolves.

5) Topo Chico or Sparkling Water

Topo Chico, with its plentiful tiny bubbles, makes an amazing paloma. Mineragua is another Mexican sparkling water that is equally nice. Otherwise, you can use any unflavored sparkling water or club soda.

6) Teeny Tiny Pinch of Salt

The salt is optional but boosts the overall flavor of the cocktail. Try your drink without it and then with it to taste the difference. Or you can line the rim of your drink with lime juice and salt like you would a margarita.

Watch How to Make a Paloma

paloma cocktail

Paloma Variations

This cocktail is fantastic as written, but here are some fun ways to change the flavor. Choose one or may two, like a combination of spicy salt and fresh chili pepper.

  • Make it salty: Line the rim of the glass with lime juice and then salt or Tajín, a Mexican spice blend of chili, lime and sea salt.
  • Make it spicy: Add one thin round of fresh serrano or jalapeño pepper to the cocktail shaker.
  • Make it extra refreshing: Add a few cucumber slices to the cocktail shaker.
  • Make it floral: Substitute St-Germain liqueur or honey simple syrup for the plain simple syrup.
  • Add vanilla: One drop—no more—of vanilla extract tastes amazing.
  • Add Aperol: Aperol offers a bittersweet Italian twist that makes the drink bright orange. Since it’s sweet, try 1/2 ounce Aperol and cut the simple syrup in half.
  • Amp the citrus flavor: Add one to two dashes of Angostura’s orange bitters to the shaker.

paloma cocktails made from scratch

Paloma Serving Suggestions

This citrusy Mexican cocktail naturally pairs well with your favorite Mexican and Tex-Mex recipes. For happy hour, serve guacamole, queso or salsa with tortilla chips. For dinner, try enchiladas, tacos or quesadillas.

More Citrusy Cocktails to Enjoy



Paloma Cocktail

  • Author: Cookie and Kate
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cocktail 1x
  • Category: Cocktail
  • Method: Shaken and stirred
  • Cuisine: Mexican
  • Diet: Gluten Free

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This paloma recipe is bright, citrusy and refreshing (and not too sweet). Recipe yields 1 cocktail; you can multiply the ingredients and shake several cocktails at once.



  • 2 ounces silver (blanco) tequila 
  • 1 ½ ounces grapefruit juice
  • ¾ ounce lime juice
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • Tiny pinch of salt
  • Topo Chico or other sparkling water
  • Thin wedge of grapefruit, for garnish


  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour in the tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, simple syrup, the tiniest pinch of salt, and optional bitters. Shake well for 10 to 15 seconds, until the shaker is ice cold. Set aside. 
  2. Fill a highball glass with ice. Strain the shaker mixture on top. Top with Topo Chico. Give the drink a gentle stir if the mixture does not appear evenly distributed. 
  3. Garnish the drink with a thin wedge of grapefruit. Enjoy.


Suggested tequila: I like Casamigas, Espolòn and Milagro. Blanco tequila is typical in palomas. Aged tequilas will dominate the citrus notes, so I don’t recommend them.

Measuring tips: You’ll need about ½ grapefruit and 1 small-to-medium lime per drink. If you don’t have a measuring jigger, 2 ounces is ¼ cup, 1 ½ ounces is 3 tablespoons, ¾ ounce is 1 ½ tablespoons, and ½ ounce is 1 tablespoon.

Change it up: If desired, line the rim of your glass with lime juice and salt. For a mellow drink, use 1 ½ ounces tequila. For stronger citrus flavor, add 1 to 2 dashes of Angostura orange bitters (not their regular bitters).

▸ Nutrition Information

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