Having a go-to drink to mix up all summer long is a solid move. Working with a few ingredients over weeks and months allows you time to dial in your recipe and then do a little experimentation. By the end of the season, you’ll be a master of that particular drink.
Over the past few years, we’ve called out the gin and tonic and the Negroni as the “cocktail of summer.” Both are warm weather winners to have in your repertoire. This year, that honor goes to the ultra-refreshing Paloma. The tequila-based drink is the perfect blend of “classic cocktail” and easy-to-make crowdpleaser. It’s clean, bright, and highlights the featured spirit rather than burying it.
Another nice ripple with the Paloma is its versatility. The drink has some basic elements that can be tweaked and played with — giving you a chance to make it your own. Of course, sticking to the basics isn’t a bad call either. Either way, this fizzy, citrus-heavy drink is what we’ll be drinking until the leaves start to turn in September.
A Little About The Paloma
The basic elements of a Paloma are tequila and grapefruit plus bubbles. We know, that sounds pretty easy. But, as with all things, the quality of the ingredients is what makes or breaks this drink.
If you’re on the coasts of Mexico (especially around Jalisco), it’s fairly common to see the main ingredients for a Paloma set out on the table, ready for you to DIY your own mix. You’ll find a bottle of local tequila (Blanca), a bottle of fizzy grapefruit soda (usually Jarritos Toronja), and a small bowl of limes. Amazingly, the tequila and Jarritos are usually free. The idea is for you and your crew to order lots of food and drink Palomas until you’re drunk and full in equal measure.
This leads us to another important point about the Paloma: it’s a great cocktail for pairing with summer foods. Taken as a basic highball (that means a base liquor topped with fizzy soda), the tart, tang, and agave nature of the drink counterpoints savory seafood, light meats, and grilled veg perfectly. Add in a reposado or Mezcal instead of a blanco tequila, along with more cocktail-forward ingredients (think fresh fruits, heavy salts, and good mineral waters), and you broaden the drink’s pairing abilities — easing into smoked meat territory, where sweet and umami meet.
Lastly, the fizziness of the drink keeps it very light and airy. This one isn’t going to weigh you down like a heavy old fashioned or something sweeter like a saccharine rum and coke or creamy pina colada. This is a semi-sweet, semi-tart drink full of effervescence with a nice tequila agave base. That sounds like summer to us.