It’s finally FINALLY starting to warm up and stay warm(ish) outside.
I know that it’s not actually WARM, yet, but it’s warmer, and I’ll take it. Today the sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and Doris and Betty were driving me crazy going outside and coming back in and running back and forth all day long. All this warm(ish) weather had me standing outside in our backyard, wandering around staring hard at the dirt to see if I could spy any little hints of green poking up from underneath the soil. It also had me yearning for backyard barbecues and fresh summery cocktails.
I guess Russell had the same idea, because when I came home from work yesterday he greeted me at the door with a sparkling, icy, fresh paloma. If you’ve never had a paloma, it’s really one of the simplest cocktails you can make, and one of the most delicious you can drink. It’s little more than a few ounces of white tequila served over ice and topped with grapefruit soda. I’ve seen it gussied up at fancy restaurants with homemade soda, fresh fruit juice, and salt or sugar rimmed glasses; but I really think that in this case you shouldn’t mess with tradition. This super simple cocktail is said to be the most popular tequila-based cocktail in Mexico, more popular than the margarita, and once you taste it you’ll understand why.
I can actually remember the exact moment that I tasted my first paloma. It was the summer of 2008, I was waiting tables in Williamsburg Brooklyn, and the restaurant where I worked added a paloma to their seasonal cocktail menu. I was hesitant to try it at first because at that time I tended to stick with whiskey or gin, and really didn’t care for tequila. I did love grapefruit though, so I let the bartender twist my arm and I was hooked for life. It went straight to the top of my list of favorite summertime libations, and ended up being a gateway drink that taught me to love tequila.
Traditionally a paloma is served in a highball with a pinch of salt and squeeze of lime. It’s decidedly unfussy, so you really don’t need to rush out and buy the fanciest tequila or make your own grapefruit soda. I recently discovered that San Pellegrino makes a grapefruit soda called “Pompelmo” that’s seriously perfect for making palomas. It’s made with real grapefruit juice so it has a fresher, more natural flavor, without all the bother of making your own soda. If you can’t find the SanPellegrino Pompelmo don’t freak, you can make a totally legit and delicious paloma using Squirt or Fresca.
Brooklyn is in the midst of a resurgence of fancy-pants depression-era craft cocktails, but every once in a while a simple classic does the job without all the fuss. You don’t need to know how to tie a bow tie or wax a mustache to make this cocktail. Not only is the paloma super easy to make, but it tastes totally amazing! Even though it’s made from little more than soda and hooch, it tastes impossibly summery and refreshing. It literally tastes like sunshine and warm weather. Are you thirsty yet?
The recipe is so ridiculously simple that it’s almost silly to write it out, but check it out below. In the words of Russell, “It’s so easy it’s stupid.” If you want a to gussy it up a little you can salt or sugar the rim of your glass before serving, but I don’t think you need to bother.
2 oz silver tequila
6 oz grapefruit soda
pinch of kosher salt
1 lime wedge
Fill a highball or rocks glass with ice. Pour tequila over ice, sprinkle with salt, and top with grapefruit soda. Squeeze some juice from the lime wedge into the drink, and add the wedge. Stir. Sip. Enjoy.