The weather is warming and Cinco de Mayo is coming, and that means it’s time for one of my all-time favorite drinks of summer – the Jalapeño Paloma. This spicy, citrusy tequila cocktail is so refreshing and perfect for the warm weather. And the slight effervescence makes it a party in a glass!
And with this recipe, having happy hour at home is even better.
What is the difference between a Paloma and a Margarita?
The paloma takes a back seat to the margarita on most Mexican menus, but it’s the paloma that is actually the national cocktail of Mexico. Like a margarita, it is a tequila-based cocktail with lime juice, but instead of Triple Sec (an orange-flavored liquor) it traditionally has grapefruit-flavored soda.
So it’s basically a less sweet, more bubbly margarita. And for those reasons, the paloma is the winner in my book.
What’s in this Jalapeño Paloma
Here’s what you’ll need to shake up this Paloma cocktail:
I am a big fan of grapefruit juice, and I drink it at least once a week. I take both my mimosas and screwdrivers with grapefruit juice instead of orange juice. Does this make me an OJ hater? Not at all.
I just prefer more tartness than sweetness in drinks, and because it’s less sweet, somehow I’ve tricked my brain into thinking it’s healthier.
And while there may not be any science behind this claim, one thing is for sure – you certainly won’t feel bad when drinking one of these Jalapeño Palomas!
I love the addition of jalapeño to the traditional paloma recipe. There is just enough to pack a little heat without overpowering the tart juice and puckery lime, and it all just harmonizes perfectly together. Bonus – jalapeños have a thermogenic (i.e. fat-burning) effect – health drink, anyone?
Another departure from the traditional recipe is we’re using fresh grapefruit juice instead of grapefruit soda. So, less sugar. See? I told you it was healthy!
How to make this Spicy Grapefruit Paloma
It all comes together in a cocktail shaker. Muddle the jalapeños with the honey. Really mash them to release the heat. Then pour in the grapefruit juice, lime juice and tequila. Give it a good shake.
Strain the cocktail into a glass filled with ice, and you’re good to go.
How to Serve a Jalapeño Paloma
Serve this puckery paloma drink in a rocks glass, a highball glass or whatever other drinking vessel you like. Because of its relationship to the margarita, you might want to serve it up in a marg glass. Anything goes!
I love to salt the rim of my paloma glass with lime salt. This is just a simple mixture of lime zest and flaky sea salt. If you want to balance the tartness of this cocktail with some sweetness, try mixing the lime zest with sugar instead.
Garnish your paloma with lots of fresh slices of jalapeños, grapefruit and lime wedges.
What is the best tequila for Palomas?
The general consensus on the best tequila for a paloma is a tequila blanco or mezcal. These types of tequila tend to be more delicate and refreshing in flavor, so that the citrus flavors in this cocktail can really shine through. A reposado tequila would be too complex for this cocktail.
How to make a whole pitcher of palomas!
The paloma is the perfect drink to make a pitcher of! That’s because the measurements are super easy. Just use equal parts grapefruit juice, tequila and club soda. Adjust the amounts of jalapeños, lime juice and honey according to the recipe card below.
Avoid putting ice directly into the pitcher. Nobody likes watered down cocktails. Fill individual highball glasses with fresh ice before pouring in the cocktails. Garnish each glass with a lime wedge and a couple thin rounds of jalapeño.
When you make this Jalapeño Paloma Recipe, I’d love to hear about it! Drop a rating or leave a comment below. Cheers!
For more summer drink recipes, try these:
For great food pairings for the paloma, try these:
Jalapeño Paloma Recipe (Spicy Grapefruit Cocktail)
- 1 shot (1.5 oz) tequila
- 1 shot (1.5 oz) grapefruit juice freshly squeezed or Simply Grapefruit
- 1 shot (1.5 oz) club soda
- 1 tsp. honey or agave nectar
- juice of 1/2 lime
- 2 slices jalapeño pepper
- zest of 1 lime
- 1 tsp. flaky sea salt
- Make the lime salt: combine lime zest and salt on a small plate. Set aside.
- Place a half inch of cold water in a shallow dish. Dip the rim of your cocktail glass into the water. Then, dip the rim of the glass into the lime salt.
- Muddle the jalapeños and honey with a wooden spoon in a cocktail shaker. Pour in the tequila, grapefruit juice and lime juice.
- Fill the glass with ice cubes. Shake the cocktail well, then pour over ice. Top with club soda. Garnish with a grapefruit slice and a jalapeño slice.