February is National Grapefruit Month! In celebration of this healthy fruit, our Drink in History features the Paloma, a classic grapefruit cocktail made with grapefruit soda and tequila.
When people think of a classic tequila cocktail, usually a margarita comes to mind. For tequila connoisseurs, however, a Paloma might be their first thought. While many believe the Margarita is the number one drink in Mexico, they are wrong. The favorite drink in Mexico is La Paloma, a cocktail consisting of tequila, grapefruit-flavored soda, and lime juice.
It’s not exactly known where and when the Paloma was created. Some believe Don Javier Delgado Corona, owner of La Capilla bar, was the first to mix together the simple ingredients. This theory is because of his other cocktail discovery—the Batanga.
What is known is how it became popular in the U.S. Bartender Evan Harrison introduced the cocktail in his pamphlet, “Popular Cocktails of the Rio Grande.” This pamphlet refers to a part of Texas where grapefruits are mass-produced. In 1929 in the Rio Grande Valley, citrus grower A.E. Henninger noticed his pink grapefruits having a red blush shade. It was then that the Ruby Red Grapefruit was discovered, making it the first citrus patent granted in the U.S. This discovery has led to many in Texas gravitating toward the grapefruit-based cocktail rather than the Margarita.
Traditionally in Mexico, the grapefruit-flavored soda of choice is Jarritos, although any brand can work. The combination of tart lime juice with a bright and sweet grapefruit soda makes the perfect match for herbaceous tequila. Blanco is the preferred choice when it comes to tequilas however, a reposado can also work in this cocktail.
Through the years, bartenders have opted for fresh juice in cocktail creation. The Paloma works great with fresh grapefruit juice instead of a flavored soda. In this case, add some sparkling water to give the cocktail a bubbly mouthfeel. And try adding some agave syrup to give the cocktail the perfect amount of sweetness.
The best part about a Paloma is how easy it is to make. Check out the easiest recipe below.
- 2 oz. Tequila
- 1/2 oz. Lime Juice
- Grapefruit-Flavored Soda
Preparation: Add the tequila and freshly-squeezed lime juice to a glass filled with ice and rimmed with salt. Top the drink with a grapefruit-flavored soda. Garnish with a lime wedge.