The refreshing Paloma: tequila, lime, grapefruit soda/Photos by Donna Turner Ruhlman

I had my first Paloma in Ixtapa, Mexico, during a blog seminar I was invited to and fell in love with it. I think I had ninety-five before the week was out. By the end of the evening I couldn’t even remember the name. (Though I remember Garrett becomes very talkative after about seven or eight.)

I still see the Mexican bartender carefully saying, PAH-LOW-MA to me. I would repeat as best I could, but he could see he’d be repeating himself in a half hour.

Now, of course, is not the time to have ninety-five Palomas but one solid one for the cocktail hour. It is HOT, and these are REFRESHING! In fact, exactly as refreshing as the above example looks in Donna’s lovely photo. The Paloma is simply tequila, lime juice, and grapefruit soda.

I’m using the excellent Tequila Ocho ReposadoNormally I save the really good stuff for straight-up drinking, but it’s worth it for the Paloma because the lime and grapefruit flavors intermingle with and elevate, rather than obscure, the flavor of the tequila.

I chose the soda because Izze is excellent (not too sweet, lots of carbonation) and it’s what my grocery store carries. Jarritos is the brand most often recommended. But half grapefruit juice and half soda water works as well.

I use equal parts tequila and soda, roughly, or even a little less soda (you want to be able to taste the tequila) with the juice of half a lime. Add a pinch of kosher salt if you wish, which increases the complexity of the flavors.

Garrett, say it with me! PAH! LOW! MA!


  • 3 ounces tequila
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 3 ounces grapefruit soda, or to taste
  • 1 wedge of lime for garnish, if you wish
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a beautiful glass filled with ice.
  2. Swirl to combine.
  3. If it’s very hot where you are, pause to consider you are about to indulge yourself with one of the most refreshing cocktails you’ve ever had.


If you liked this post on the Paloma, check out these other links:

  • My post where Friday Cocktail Hour all began: The Perfect Martini.
  • Be a member of the Tequila Interchange Project.
  • Rick Bayless shares a recipe for pozole, or pork hominy soup, which originates in Jalisco, Mexico.
  • Sangrita is a chaser of sorts that is served with tequila and was traditionally made with leftover citrus juice and chile powder.

© 2012 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2012 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.


27 Wonderful responses to “Friday Cocktail Hour: La Paloma”

  • Wilma de Soto

    What? No Jarritos Grapefruit soda? It will hit 100 here today. Sounds like good choice. Thanks.

  • Auntie Allyn

    Keeping my fingers crossed that I’ll find grapefruit soda at my rinky-dink grocery store! Sounds delicious!

  • Kristen England


    Give the Jarritos Toronja a try. It’s like $1.5 for 2L at my local supermercado.

  • Charlotte

    Ha! Izzie was founded by two childhood friends of mine and named after their eldest, Isabel. Always gives me a kick …

    • ruhlman

      cool. have always wondered how a product is created like this. my kids love it but I limit it because expensive and they’d drink like water.

  • Jen C

    I have to second (third? fourth?) the Jarritos Toronja. We had our wedding in Mexico and the welcome baskets we had waiting in the guests villas included the ingredients to make Paloma’s for the weekend. We taste tested every grapefruit soda we could get our hands on to make the perfect cocktail and by far, the Jarritos is the winner. And you really need that pinch of salt on the lime as well 🙂

  • Allen

    Love this in peak summer weather. This drink works well with El Toro tequila too, if your going to have 95, make the first two with premium and the rest with carburetor cleaner. I never know the diff after the first two.

  • Mantonat

    Squirt is probably the most readily available brand of grapefruit soda, although I’ve never detected much grapefruit flavor. Still, I recently spent a week in Tulum, Mexico, and my first stop in town was a the local grocery where we picked up a 2 liter bottle of Squirt (Jarritos was not sold in that grocery), a bottle of El Jimador Reposado, a bag of limes, and a styrofoam cooler full of ice. Using enough lime makes up for the lack of citrus in the soda. El Jimador is the #1 selling tequila in Mexico, from what I’ve read. Not spectacular, but I like it much better than the ubiquitous Cuervo.
    At home, I use Izze or Jarritos and punch it up with a little fresh grapefruit juice.

  • Dana

    Well, Michael, after trying this to end our week, we understand why you had trouble remembering the name of the drink by the end of the night. Had to use Squirt because in this neck of suburbia there was every Izze soda except grapefruit and the same held true for Jarrito. Next time I’m in the city, will stop at Fiesta to see if I can find Jarritos brand of Toronja. To others I would say be advised that you might want to test ratios to your own liking, perhaps three parts grapefruit soda to one part tequila if you plan on doing anything else that evening.

  • Ed

    I’d love to try this, but am taking a statin (simvastatin) and it doesn’t mix with grapefruit juice. I’d guess that it wouldn’t be any big deal, but I don’t know. Pisser! Will have to check with a doctor friend of mine.

    • ruhlman

      I’d be curious too if enough actual grapefruit in grapefruit soda to affect statin. Let us know if you find out!

      • Ed

        See a more detailed answer a comment or two down.

        Regarding the amount of grapefruit juice in a soda my friend said that there have been no definitive studies to indicate how much is safe. He did say “if you lick a grapefruit it isn’t going to kill you”, but other than that there is no clear advice.

        He also said that there have been recent advisories about the dosage of simvastatin (Zocor), irrespective of grapefruit, and that this makes the “don’t take with grapefruit” advice more critical. As I said below other statins may not have the same behaviors.

  • Ed

    I found out about the grapefruit juice, at least for me. I checked with a pharmacist friend. His official position is that no one should ever mix simvastatin and grapefruit juice (other statins aren’t as bad). Grapefruit and only grapefruit causes the simvastatin not to be absorbed. This in effect raises its dosage (e.g., 20mg becomes 40mg).

    The unofficial answer is a bit complex. He factored in ALL the medications I take and their doses. Some other meds also affect simvastatin so there isn’t a blanket answer for everyone. For me, my combinations of meds, and the low dosage of simvastatin I take a Paloma or two won’t hurt me. However, he was very clear that this is very much an individual answer.

  • Allen

    I was grabbing something out of the pantry closet, after closing the door I heard a large crash and breaking glass. Something fell off the upper shelf and cracked a full 1.75 ltr bottle of Cuervo.

    I was ready to clean up the mess and toss everything, but I decided I could strain the tequila through a fine filter and make it safe to drink, and then turned it into something quite nice by adding the outer peel and juice of one lemon, lime, orange, chopped jalapeño, a little cilantro and agave cut with water, let it sit for a day and strain again.

    I don’t know what the hell to call it, but it’s friggin good! Another tragedy evolves into something great.

  • bloviatrix

    The thought of Jarrito’s makes my teeth hurt, it’s so sweet. I’m a fan of San Pellegrino Pompelmo.

  • Janet

    Okay, after reading this post today (in my RSS feed after vacation — sorry for the delay), I am sitting at my desk at 5:15 on a Monday sipping one of these deadly beauties. I think I will just say, I’m glad I have no where to drive and nothing to do for the rest of the day…
    Next time, I *might* cut back on the tequila a smidge… I think I agree with the person in the Slate article who said, “Pro: You could drink these all day. Con: You could drink these all day.”

  • Jeff in CO

    Damn. The house drink of the summer has arrived. Muchas gracias…

  • Tony Bova

    Wow, what a great drink!. Made grapefruit soda with frozen juice concentrate and soda water (cuz I’m cheap)

  • Jamie Ellis

    These drinks are addictive! Love, love, love them! Thanks for the wonderful recipe.

  • Dana

    Okay, after reading this post today (in my RSS feed after vacation — sorry for the delay), I am sitting at my desk at 5:15 on a Monday sipping one of these deadly beauties. I think I will just say, I’m glad I have no where to drive and nothing to do for the rest of the day…Next time, I *might* cut back on the tequila a smidge… I think I agree with the person in the Slate article who said, “Pro: You could drink these all day. Con: You could drink these all day.”

    We tried again with 3 oz of grapefruit soda and 1 oz of Tequila…. a much better ratio if you have something that needs to be done later in the evening. A taste of the tequila but not nearly as deadly


  1.  Friday Cocktail Hour: The Margarita | Michael Ruhlman
  2.  Friday Cocktail Hour | Michael Ruhlman