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These easy pitcher palomas are a refreshing and fizzy margarita alternative that are perfect for any party or summer gathering!
While I love a good margarita, palomas also rank right up there as one of my favorite cocktails. When you think “Mexican cocktails” your mind probably goes immediately to the margarita, but palomas are actually the far more popular drink in Mexico! This is for good reason: they are refreshing, and perfectly balanced. A paloma has the bittersweetness of grapefruit, the acidity of lime juice, tequila, the sweetness and fizz of the traditionally used grapefruit soda, and a salted rim, so it speaks to all of your areas of taste. Even if grapefruit isn’t usually your favorite citrus, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised by these pitcher palomas.
What’s in a Paloma Cocktail Recipe?
For these pitcher palomas, we are nixing the standard grapefruit soda in favor of sparkling water, fresh grapefruit juice, and a touch of honey for a deeper, fresher flavor!
- Fresh Grapefruit + Lime Juice – to make these pitcher palomas even easier, I prefer to buy freshly squeezed lime and grapefruit juice from my local grocery store, that way if you do need to make another batch you don’t have to go through the additional trouble of squeezing more juice. If you do go this route, make sure you are using freshly squeezed (same day) juice, not the juice in the refrigerated or bottled section of the store, otherwise the freshness of the cocktail will be greatly affected. I find mine at Whole Foods and HEB. You can also choose to make your own freshly squeezed lime and grapefruit juice, though!
- Sparkling Water – to give the cocktail its classic fizz, we use sparkling water or club soda (instead of the grapefruit soda used in standard recipes). This results in the same fizz, but in a better-for-you (but still SUPER delicious) way!
- Honey – honey is my go-to simple syrup replacement because it lends a neutral flavor to cocktails and dissolves easily. I recommend tasting as you go as you may need to add more honey depending on the sweetness of the grapefruit.
- Tequila – we opt for silver tequila here – we find that it tends to be the “cleanest” tequila out there while still being friendly on the budget!
- Lime + Grapefruit (for garnish) – though we use *freshly squeezed* grapefruit and lime juice for the bulk of our cocktail, grab one grapefruit and lime each for some pretty garnish!
- Coarse Salt (for the rim) – what’s a cocktail without a sea salt rim, am I right?! We’ll run a lime wedge around the rim of our glass and then dip it in coarse sea salt for the all-too-classic finish!
How To Make a Paloma
Making a pitcher of these palomas is insanely easy…are you ready for it?!
- Add + stir. Add the grapefruit juice, lime juice, tequila, sparkling water, and honey in a large pitcher and stir to combine.
- Pour + enjoy. When you’re ready, grab a glass, run a lime wedge around the rim, dip it in coarse sea salt, pour from the pitcher, add a grapefruit slice, and enjoy! You can totally skip the sea salt rim + garnishes if they aren’t doable for a large crowd, though they do add a really pretty touch!
I hope you enjoy this classic paloma cocktail made healthier with better-for-you ingredients…I know I sure will!
Just for You
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Palomas Frequently Asked Questions
You bet! Palomas lend themselves especially well to hot days, so think poolside sips, summer holidays, and any gathering of friends and family. The best part is that these are so easy to make, so you can make them well in advance of a party so you don’t have to play bartender all night!
Good question! As with our margarita recipes, we recommend using a silver or blanco tequila for this drink because of its mild taste and less expensive price tag!
The word “paloma” is actually Spanish for “dove,” and while the exact origins of the drink’s name aren’t fully known, it’s rumored that the citrusy drink was named after a popular 1860s folk song, “La Poloma.”
While both palomas and margaritas utilize tequila and citrus, they are distinctly different. The biggest difference here is the type of citrus used (palomas lean on grapefruit while margaritas lean on lime), and while margaritas are typically sweetened with an orange liqueur (like Triple Sec or Cointreau), palomas are not. In many recipes, palomas get their sweetness from grapefruit soda, and in our recipe, from honey.
For the Paloma Pitcher:
- Add the grapefruit juice, lime juice, tequila, sparkling water, and honey in a large pitcher and stir to combine.
For the Individual Drinks:
- Cut a slice in the middle of the lime wedge and run it along the entire rim of the glass, then dip it into the salt.
- Place a grapefruit slice in each glass, fill with ice, then fill each glass with the paloma mixture and serve!