Two tequila-based Paloma cocktails

Paloma cocktail recipes: 5 delicious takes on the tequila-based drink

Posted by for Recipes

Ready to move on from the margarita? The paloma is a traditional Mexican tequila-based cocktail that’s fresh, fruity and pleasingly sour. Make them easily at home with one of these recipes. 

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The paloma is about to become the cocktail you’re going to want to drink all summer long, whatever the weather. Fresh, fruity and tequila-based, there’s so much to love about this traditional Mexican drink. It’s also an easy cocktail to prepare at home to impress your friends with at dinner parties.

Named after La Paloma (“the dove”), a popular folk song composed in the early 1860s, some people believe the cocktail was created by Don Javier Delgado Corona who owned the famous bar La Capilla in Tequila, Mexico (that’s one to add to your travel bucket list). Often called the lazy man’s margarita, the paloma is a thirst-quenching sweet and sour delight from start to finish and it might just overtake your old favourites to become your go-to drink.

Tequila educator at Maestro Dobel, Oli Pergl, is a big fan of the paloma, so much so that he’s created five unique takes on the cocktail. Try the recipes out and make sure to take note of Oli’s expert advice to create restaurant-quality cocktails at home.

5 takes on the paloma cocktail

  • Diamond Paloma

    Diamond paloma tequila cocktail on bar with maestro tequila
    The Diamond Paloma.

    Ingredients

    • 40ml tequila
    • 15ml fresh lemon juice
    • 10ml agave nectar
    • 15ml bitter liqueur (Campari or Aperol will work well)
    • Cloudy lemonade to top up
    • Grapefruit peel for garnish

    Method

    1. Shake together the tequila, lemon juice and agave nectar, then strain into a flute.
    2. Top with cloudy lemonade and the bitter liqueur.
    3. Garnish with grapefruit peel.
  • Ruby Red Paloma

    Ruby Red paloma cocktail on marble tray with Maestro dobel tequila
    The Ruby Red Paloma.

    Ingredients

    • 50ml tequila
    • 20ml fresh lime juice
    • 1/2 fresh ruby red grapefruit
    • 15ml agave nectar
    • Sea salt
    • Sparkling water to top up
    • Lime and grapefruit for garnish

    Ingredients

    1. Rim the glass with a halved lime and gently dip into sea salt.
    2. Shake together the tequila, lime juice and agave nectar with ice and strain into a glass with cubed ice.
    3. Top with sparkling water.
    4. Garnish with grapefruit and lime wedges.
  • Crystal Pomegranate Paloma

    Crystal Pomegranate Paloma cocktail with maestro DOBEL tequila
    The Crystal Pomegranate Paloma

    Ingredients

    • 50ml tequila
    • 15ml fresh lemon juice
    • 10ml agave nectar
    • Sparkling water to top up
    • 35ml pomegranate juice
    • Lemon wheel
    •  Pomegranate seeds

    Method

    1. Shake together the tequila, lemon juice and agave nectar with ice and strain into a glass.
    2. Top with sparkling water and pomegranate juice.
    3. Garnish with lemon wheel and pomegranate seeds.
  • Rose Pink Paloma

    Rose Paloma cocktail with Maestro DOBEL
    The Rose Pink Paloma.

    Ingredients

    • 50ml tequila
    • 15ml fresh lemon juice
    • 7.5ml rose water
    • 7.5ml agave nectar
    • Sparkling water to top with
    • Rosebuds (available online)
    • Small grapefruit wedge 

    Method

    1. Shake together the tequila, fresh lemon juice, rose water and agave nectar and strain into a rocks glass. 
    2. Top with sparkling water.
    3. Garnish with rosebuds and the grapefruit wedge.
  • Smoky Paloma

    Smoky Paloma cocktail with Maestro DOBEL tequila
    The Smoky Paloma cocktail.

    Ingredients

    • 50ml tequila
    • 15ml fresh lime juice
    • 1/2 fresh pink grapefruit
    • 10ml agave nectar
    • Sparkling water to top up
    • Himalayan salt 
    • Grapefruit wedge

    Method

    1. Coat the rim of a glass with a halved lime and gently dip it into Himalayan salt so it sticks to the edge. 
    2. Shake together the tequila, lime juice, grapefruit and agave nectar and strain into the glass.
    3. Top with sparkling water.
    4. Garnish with a grapefruit wedge.

Oli’s expert tips for making paloma cocktails at home

Fresh ingredients are key

“Only using fresh herbs, fruits, juices, and other organic products is key here for adding other flavours,” Oli says. “Using out of date or artificial ingredients will add a chemical-like, unnatural taste to your final cocktail.”

“When you’re using limes, roll them on the work surface before cutting and juicing to optimise the amount of juice you get from them,” he advises. 

Don’t be heavy-handed on the salt

Salt is a common issue I find with most tequila-based cocktails,” Oli says. “Table salt can be incredibly aggressive and granular on the palate, detracting from the experience.”

Oli explains that people often add too much salt, so rubbing half a lime onto the rim of a glass and dipping it gently into a pile of sea salt flakes is the best technique.

Think about the tequila you’re using

“Always taste your tequila neat,” Oli advises. “Ask yourself what you can detect and try to add similar flavours into your cocktail.”

“Be a bit experimental and don’t just think about Mexican-originating fruits and spices,” he recommends, when it comes to choosing flavours to add to your cocktails. “Tequilas can offer hundreds of different tastes and can pair up with hundreds of potential combinations of ingredients.” 

There are four main styles of tequila:

  • Silver, or blanco: the youngest tequilas with earthy tones. 
  • Reposado, or gold: these rest in oak barrels for two to 12 months and take on the characteristics of the barrel, imparting colour and unique flavours.
  • Añejo: these have sat in oak barrels for one to three years and have a very rich quality. 
  • Extra añejo: these sit in oak barrels for a minimum of three years and develop even more unique aromas and tastes. 

“Younger tequilas tend to be more vibrant, fresh and clean, so it’s best not to overpower those drinks with heavy or bold flavours,” Oli says. “Equally, using an ingredient that is too light, or simply too many ingredients, with older styles of tequila can lead to a bad balance in the final drink.”

Pair tequila cocktails with your favourite foods

“Tequila and cocktails made with tequila are commonly pigeonholed into being paired with classic Mexican dishes,” Oli says. “But connecting the worlds of gastronomy and tequila is where you can really start to explore the benefits of the spirit.”

“Try drinking tequila cocktails alongside your favourite cheeses, cold cuts, olives, chocolates, meats and seafood,” he suggests. “This is the perfect way to dive down the rabbit hole and truly see what tequila can offer.”

Sip, don’t shot, tequila

“A common belief is that you should always shot tequila, biting into a three-day-old lime wedge and licking a cheap packet of table salt,” says Oli. 

“Tequila takes an incredible amount of time to be produced, so sipping it is exactly how the Mexicans intend it to be enjoyed. Sipping from a champagne flute or wine glass slows down your drinking time, allowing you to draw in the unique aromas.”

Older tequilas can benefit from a drop or two of chilled water, but ice can kill the natural sweetness, so Oli advises avoiding drinking it with ice.

Use agave nectar instead of sugar

“Agave nectar is a vegan-friendly, honey-like syrup that derives from the same plant that produces tequila,” Oli explains. “Instead of adding sugar into your drinks recipes, try this instead to reinforce those base agave notes in your tequila cocktails.” 

“It’s two to three times sweeter than sugar, so use it sparingly,” he advises. “If you’re unsure, always add less than what you think you need. You can always add more later.”

  • Oli Pergl, tequila educator for Maestro Dobel

    Bartender in checked shirt making cocktails
    Oli Pergl shares 5 takes on the Paloma cocktail.

    Oli is the tequila editor at Maestro Dobel, the provider of the world’s first crystal-clear aged tequila.

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Images: Maestro Dobel

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