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Paloma recipe: An elegant alternative to margaritas

The Paloma, an alternative tequila drink for Cinco

The Paloma, an alternative tequila drink for Cinco de Mayo. Credit: Newsday / Corin Hirsch

The arrival of Cinco de Mayo incites a tide of margaritas of every persuasion: Oversized and frozen, on the rocks and extra strong, infused with watermelon/jalapeños/blueberries/beets/the ingredient of the season.

If Cinco de Mayo gives you margarita fatigue, there are many roads-less-traveled through tequila drinks, and the tart-sweet Paloma — which means “the dove” in Spanish — is just as emblematic of the day and as quenching as its more familiar, salt-rimmed cousins. It’s also quite elegant, especially when served in a slim Collins glass.

A blend of tequila, grapefruit and lime juices and grapefruit soda, served over ice, the roots of the Paloma are murky. It has been traced to a 19th-century Spanish/Mexican/Venezuelan folk song called “La Paloma,” and has also been attributed to octogenarian Don Javier Delgado Corona, the owner of a Mexican bar called La Capilla in the eponymous town of Tequila, Jalisco state, where agave thrives.

Whatever the source, the coral-hued Paloma refreshes and almost tastes restorative, and is easy to make: Pour tequila and fruit juices over ice, add grapefruit soda, stir and imbibe. While unaged blanco tequila works best, you can add another layer of flavor with a Reposado tequila (Casamigos’ version introduces a vanilla note, if that’s your thing). For an unorthodox, spicy touch, finish with a splash of ginger liqueur such as Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur. Salt rims welcome and encouraged.



Half a lime

Coarse salt (optional)

Ice cubes

2 ounces tequila (blanco is ideal)

2 ounces fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice

1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice

Grapefruit soda (such as Jarritos or Ting)

Splash of ginger liqueur (optional)


If you like a salt rim, run a cut lime around edge of chilled Collins glass, then dip in coarse salt. Add ice, pour in tequila and fruit juices and stir to combine. Top with grapefruit soda. (Seltzer works in a pinch, but then add a squirt of agave nectar for sweetness). Optional: A splash of ginger liqueur to finish.

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