published Jun 21, 2024
Paloma Recipe
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angled shot of two palomas in rocks glasses with salt on the rim and garnished with grapefruit
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: James Park

If it’s summertime, you can bet I’m ordering a tequila cocktail. In my opinion, it’s the most refreshing choice. And while I love a classic margarita as much as the next person, they can be a bit boozy for me (sometimes). That’s where the paloma comes in. A combination of fresh grapefruit juice, lime juice, and tequila are topped with a floater of sparkling water to lighten everything up. Sure, you could just use grapefruit soda, but here I love the fresh juice and less-sugary flavor of a cocktail made from scratch.

Why You’ll Love It

  • It’s fresh and light. Fresh grapefruit juice and sparkling water keep this cocktail from being too boozy or too sweet.
  • It comes together fast! This drink may taste fancy, but it only takes 5 minutes to make.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe; Food Styling: James Park

Key Ingredients in a Paloma

  • Grapefruit: Fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice makes all the difference.
  • Lime: A squeeze of lime complements the grapefruit flavor and adds a little extra tartness.
  • Tequila: Go for blanco (or silver) tequila, which is the least aged and most agave-forward. You don’t need a really expensive bottle — just make sure to use one you like. 
  • Agave nectar: Add a touch of sweetness to balance the citrus juice.
  • Sparkling water: A generous floater of bubbly water keeps the drink from being too boozy.

How to Make a Paloma

  1. Salt your rim. Moisten the rim of an Old-Fashioned or margarita glass with a lime wedge, then dip in kosher salt to coat. 
  2. Shake the ingredients. Combine grapefruit juice, lime juice, blanco tequila, and agave nectar simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice, seal, and shake until very frosty. 
  3. Strain and enjoy. Pour the cocktail through a fine-mesh strainer, top with sparkling water, and garnish with a grapefruit slice.

Helpful Swaps

  • Rim the glasses with zippy Tajín for an extra boost of spice.
  • Swap tequila for smoky mezcal.
  • Use honey instead of agave syrup.
  • Instead of agave and sparkling water, use grapefruit soda.
  • Buy fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice instead of squeezing it yourself (this is ideal for bigger batches).

More Tequila Cocktails

Paloma Recipe

Move over, margarita!

Prep time 5 minutes

Makes 1 drink

Serves 1

Nutritional Info


  • 2 teaspoons

    Diamond Crystal kosher salt

  • 1

    medium lime

  • Ice

  • 1

    medium red or pink grapefruit

  • 2 ounces

    blanco tequila

  • 1/4 ounce

    agave nectar or simple syrup

  • 2 ounces

    cold sparkling water or club soda


  1. Spread 2 teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt in an even layer on a small flat plate. Halve 1 medium lime. Cut 1 lime wedge from one half. Run the lime wedge over the rim of a Collins or Old-Fashioned glass to moisten. Invert the glass into the salt, turning it as needed, to coat the rim. Fill the glass with ice.

  2. Halve 1 medium red or pink grapefruit. Cut 1 grapefruit slice from one half, then juice the remaining pieces until you have 2 ounces. Place the grapefruit juice in a cocktail shaker. Juice the lime pieces until you have 1/2 ounce, then add to the shaker. Add 2 ounces blanco tequila and 1/4 ounce agave nectar. Fill the shaker halfway with ice, seal, and shake until the outside of the shaker is very frosty, about 20 seconds.

  3. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer into the glass. Top with 2 ounces sparkling water. Garnish with the grapefruit slice.