Palomas were once known as a working man’s drink, but they have grown in popularity and sophistication. The original Paloma is made up of just two ingredients – 2:1 ratio of grapefruit soda and tequila. That’s it. Mixologists have elevated this simple drink to create versions with complex flavor profiles. Bricia Lopez, owner of Mama Rabbit Bar in Las Vegas and Guelaguetza in Los Angeles, makes her signature Palomita cocktail with mezcal, grapefruit juice, lime juice, hibiscus syrup and serves it in a hibiscus salt rimmed glass that’s garnished with grapefruit and flowers. What?! I’m taking inspiration from her amazing drink to craft my own version.
MEZCAL VS. TEQUILA
All mezcal spirits come from the agave plant and there are about 50 different species. So all tequilas are mezcal, but not all mezcals are tequila. Tequila comes from one specific species. The production process is also different, making mezcal spirits smokier in flavor and more expensive.
HERE’S HOW I MADE IT
Make Hibiscus Salt for the glass rim. Add the contents of a tea bag to a mortar and pestle and finely crush the tea. This also helps release floral notes. Combine with three teaspoons of Diamond kosher salt and transfer to your salt rimmer or plain dish. Look at the color on that salt!
Make a Hibiscus Simple Syrup. Combine 1 cup each of water and granulated sugar with two hibiscus tea bags and the peel of one lemon. Stir to dissolve the sugar and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Remove tea bags and lemon peel before transferring into a container.
MAKING THE PALOMA
Salt the glass rim by dipping the rim in ruby red grapefruit juice, then dip the rim in the hibiscus salt. Add ice and pour some hibiscus simple syrup in the glass – about .5 to 1 ounce (done to taste). Add 2 ounces of tequila blanco or your favorite mezcal, 2 ounces of fresh ruby red grapefruit juice and .5 to 1 ounce of fresh lime juice. Top with red grapefruit soda and garnish with fresh grapefruit and lime slices. Delicious! The fresh juice makes all the difference. It’s bright and refreshing!
Note: I purchased pink grapefruit Italian soda at Whole Foods market.
WANT TO MAKE IT A PITCHER?
André and Tenaya Darlington, authors of Booze and Vinyl, offer math-free advice in this Huffington Post article. They recommend to substitute cups for ounces. Since there are 8 ounces per cup, the conversion is pretty straight forward. Remember cocktails are either shaken in ice, or served on ice, so unless you’re adding ice to the pitcher, dilute with 20 percent water. Because citrus drinks lose their freshness over time, they recommend you batch the alcohol ahead of time and add the citrus just before guests arrive.
A refreshing and delicious tequila and grapefruit cocktail that goes down smooth. Perfect for any party and pitcher-worthy at any cinco de mayo celebration.
- hibiscus salt (recipe in notes)
- .5 – 1 ounce hibiscus simple syrup (recipe in notes)
- 2 ounces tequila blanco or mezcal
- 2 ounces fresh ruby red grapefruit juice
- .5 – 1 ounce fresh lime juice
- top with red grapefruit soda
- garnish with sliced grapefruit and lime
First dip the glass rim in grapefruit juice, then in the hibiscus salt. Add ice and pour to taste between .5 – 1 ounce of hibiscus simple syrup.
Add 2 ounces of tequila blanco or mezcal (mezcal will add a smokey flavor), 2 ounces of fresh ruby read grapefruit juice, .5 – 1 ounce fresh lime juice and top with grapefruit soda.
Garnish with fresh grapefruit and lime slices or as desired.
Hibiscus Salt: Add the contents of a tea bag to a mortar and pestle and finely crush the tea. Combine with three teaspoons of Diamond Kosher salt and transfer to your salt rimmer.
Hibiscus Simple Syrup: Combine 1 cup each of water and granulated sugar with two hibiscus tea bags and the peel of one lemon. Stir to dissolve the sugar and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Remove tea bags and lemon peel before transferring into a container. For stronger color and flavor, steep with 3 tea bags. Use as you would grenadine.
MAKING A PITCHER: Substitute cups for ounces.