Mezcal Paloma

Palomas are normally made with tequila, but I prefer to mix mine with mezcal- it adds a smoky complexity to this cocktail that gets even better when you toss a few fiery chiles into the mix. New to mezcal? Check out this quick primer from Food & Wine that explains the differences between tequila and mezcal.


  • ¼ cup fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground chile de árbol
  • Small grapefruit or lime wedge (for glass)
  • 2 ounces jovan (blanco) mezcal or silver tequila
  • 1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
  • 6 ounces grapefruit soda
  • Grapefruit twist or a few slices of fresh jalapeño (for serving)


Mix salt and chile in a small bowl and spread out on a small plate. Rub the rim of a highball glass with grapefruit or lime wedge, then dip into salt mixture, pushing through to evenly coat rim. Fill glass with ice and pour in mezcal, grapefruit juice, then soda. Garnish with grapefruit twist or jalapeño slices.

Bartender’s Notes:

  • If you want a bit more color and little extra lime flavor for the rim of your paloma, you can mix a little Tajín with salt, to taste, and use that instead of rather than just straight salt and ground chile arbol. (I use Tajín mixed with sugar for the rim on my spicy mango margaritas too.)
  • My go-to grapefruit soda is Jarritos Toronja, but there are plenty of other brands worth checking out, if they’re available in your area. Caribbean brand Ting comes highly recommended, as does Spindrift. Both Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s also carry some pretty decent grapefruit Italian sodas that would work well in this cocktail. If you’re going for a historic take on this drink, the very first palomas were probably mixed with Squirt back in the 1950s (although there’s some contention among cocktail historians as to when the paloma was first created).
  • No mezcal or tequilla on hand? No problem- give the paloma’s close relative, the Greyhound, a try.  It has a very similar flavor profile, but is made with gin or vodka and often features an herbal garnish, such as a sprig of rosemary. If you give your Greyhound a salt rim, it becomes a Salty Dog.