Dump The Margarita: The Paloma Is Your New Summer Drinky

The Lime Is Half Full
I see you’ve got a margarita there.

Lovely drink, the margarita.

*urinates in your glass*


Ew, what are you doing? Why are you still trying to drink it?

*bats it out of your hand*

Listen. Listen. It’s okay. I’m going to help you drink something better. Because that’s my job — to take the somewhat mediocre poop-squat of a life you are currently experiencing and gussy it up so that before death claims your dumb body, you get to possess a few crucial moments of actual happiness. I mean, remember when I was like, YO THE COFFEE YOU’RE DRINKING IS BASICALLY SWILL RUN THROUGH THE INTESTINAL TRACT OF A SICKENED MUSKRAT and you were like, no way, nuh-uh, except then you did what I said and suddenly you were all like, WHOA-DANG TELL ME MORE, COFFEE WIZARD?

This is like that.

Okay, so, first things first, let’s talk about a couple things.

First, my recipe for the Paloma probably ensures that it’s not actually a Paloma anymore, but hey, fuck it, whatever. I am merely an amateur boozeologist; I do not hold a proper doctorate. Besides, when I was testing out making this lovely drink, none of the actual recipes seemed to agree anyway. Grapefruit soda? Grapefruit juice? Fresh-squozen? Or not? Meh. Meh, I tell you, meh. Screw the authenticity factor. High-five to the THIS SHIT IS DELICIOUS factor.

Second, I am not actually well-tested in the ways of tequila. I’m only starting to dip my toes into those agave waters — and some recipes here can’t agree on whether it’s the blanco or reposado variants. This is in a mixer, and needs to play well with other flavors — further, you’re not sipping it all by its lonesome so you (to my mind) don’t need top-shelf for this. Go to your store, find something in the middle price range, and buy it. I quite like the Siembra Azul Blanco. But really, it doesn’t matter, because my real recommendation is that you scrap tequila for this and instead go with its smoky, surly cousin: motherfucking mezcal.

Mezcal is basically the Lagavulin of tequilas (except, shut up, it’s not actually tequila). It’s made from maguey. They roast that shit underground, and whilst there, the Devil rises up from within the heat-blasted earth and gives it a little kiss, which is why it tastes like smoke and Satan’s love.

Mezcal is basically amazing.

(Note: it is different from mescaline, as well, which also comes from a cactus but is less a beverage and more a thing you take in order to fight jaguar gods and commune with machine-elves in the desert. Your mileage may vary.)

If you want to try mezcal, find this stuff: Ilegal Mezcal Joven.

Avoid shit with “the worm” in it, because the worm is probably just some dumb touristy thing and besides, it’s added after production anyway and sometimes the worm is actually alive and will eat holes in your bowels and set up a silken tent inside your hollowed-out chest cavity and give birth to a thousand more like it, and they will sing a song that summons those you love and soon the squirming worms will hollow them out, too, and then everyone you know will be reproductive puppets for these insidious, drunken parasites.

(Note: I may have imagined that story while high on mescaline.)

Anyway. Onto the drink.

Here’s what you’re gonna do.

Get a highball glass. Salt the rim. (Sounds like a fancy sex move. Something with buttholes?)

Get a shaker.

Into the glass goes:

1/3 cup of mezcal or tequila.

Into the shaker goes:

1/3 cup of grapefruit juice, either freshly squozen or, y’know, from a bottle.

The juice of one-half a lime.

A teaspoon of sugar or simple syrup.


Shake the shaker. Shake it like your Momma gave ya. (Wait, shake it like your Momma gave you what? The DTs? Epilepsy? Mescaline? Inquiring minds wanna know.)

Pour what you done shook into the highball glass.

Throw in a few more ice cubes.

Top with — and here is where I differ with a lot of recipes — tonic water. A good, bitter, botanical tonic. (Fevertree is nice. Pro-tip: if it has high fructose corn syrup in it, it’s probably a bottle of garbage — that’s regardless of your feelings about HFCS, but frequently that as an ingredient is a sign of inferior deliciousness.) You won’t need to add much, really just a splash — no more than 1/4 cup at the end of the day. Gives it a little fizz and the botanicals lend it a bit of depth. A lot of recipes say “club soda,” or instead eschew juice and club soda and combine into “grapefruit soda,” but hell with it, I like the juice combo.

Now, drink ten of these.

You’re welcome.

(Variant additives might include: grapefruit bitters, grenadine, the tears of La Llorona.)

Now: share your own cocktail recipes.


* * *

A reminder that if you dig this kinda thing, a whole buncha authors (LIKE ME) have gotten together and formed a church — er, “church” — the HOLY TACO CHURCH where we discuss food and booze and books and foodie boozy books and bookish boozy foods and books about booze foods or whatever. You can go there, subscribe to the newsletter, check out the blog DO SO NOW OR I WILL TELL THE MEZCAL WORMS TO HUNT YOU FOR YOUR FLESH.)

Go and be delicious, tacolytes.


  • I’m not sure if I’m relieved or befuddled by your apparent flagrant disregard of HuffPo-commanded New Title Making Protocols. It’s supposed to be: “WHY The Paloma Is Your New Summer Drinky – You Won’t Believe It!”

  • Real Margaritaland is the desert, and if tequila is truth serum, mezcal is mag-whey, or whey of magnesia and it cleans out any neurons you have left after 10 Palomas–another nice side effect!

  • I am not very knowledgeable in the arcane sciences of tequila and mescal (decent tequila is very hard to find in India and I don’t think I have ever seen mescal anywhere other than super high specialty stores), so I won’t comment on whether a Paloma can contain mescal. But I enthusiastically agree to the idea of adding tonic water to a summery drink.

    Good tonic water can be the difference between a good drink and a great drink. It adds character without overwhelming the base ingredients. That shit can go with everything. Have you ever tried adding tonic water to a good rum (a good rum is defined as one where you can actually taste the sweeter notes of the molasses)? Try it – it will blow your mind.

  • June 18, 2014 at 6:22 AM // Reply

    I bet you would like Sangria. Not the crappy American version where you throw some oranges into a glass of wine, but the Spanish variety where you throw Rum, Gin, oranges and lemons, pucker, sugar, half and half, ice, and sometimes whiskey and vodka. Enjoy.

    • In California, we make Sangria in two ways, White & Red. White wine & stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, apricots & maybe pears, which aren’t stone fruit but they hang well together) with cognac & sweet fizzy soda. Red wine & citrus (Meyer lemons, Valencia oranges, tangerines, limes and maybe a bit of apple so there’s something crunchy to munch on) with brandy & sweet fizzy soda.

  • Being something of an expert on the subject: if you’re going with tequila, go with Reposado, or Anejo if you want a sweeter drink. Blanco is tequila is for frat parties and spring break shots.

    If you want a good brand of tequila, go with Corazon, which is 100% agave, cheaper and better than Patron.

    I am not a huge fan of mezcales, mostly because I prefer stronger drinks, and mezcales are generally lower proof than tequilas. Also, that bit of spice you get from mezcales can be added to tequila by adding your choice of peppers to diffuse in the bottle for a day or so. It doesn’t change the flavor, but gives it a nice little bite at the end. I prefer jalepenos, because my wife won’t drink it if I use habaneros.

    Happy summer.

  • Yes. Yes, I am going to try this. Then, when I am drunk enough, I’m going to read my autographed copy of “The Cormorant” and probably hallucinate/have weird dirty dreams about you, too. So thank you. And I mean that.

  • Pisco Sour — a Peruvian cocktail made with pisco (a grape brandy):

    2 oz. Pisco
    1 oz. fresh lime juice
    half oz. simple syrup
    1 fresh egg white
    angostura bitters

    add all ingredients (except bitters) into shaker and fill with ice. Shake like a monkey on crack.

    Pour into highball glass — egg whites will have created a foam on top of the drink. Add 3 drops of bitters, which settle into the foam (some bartenders may use a straw to swizzle the bitters into a design, almost like you do with a cappuccino).


  • I come from a long line of People Who Should Not Drink That, so my experience with anything alcoholic is largely academic – and filled with stand-ins. One thing that really got my attention a few summers ago was this astonishingly good thing my friends were doing with lime juice and beer. Basically? Take something that will hold the entire bottle, put two inches of lime juice in the bottom of it and fill with cold beer of choice. The only requirement is both ingredients be really really cold – and damn, that was tasty.

    But nothing beats a huge plastic mug of crushed ice with a lemon or lime (or both) buried in it, filled to the rim with club soda. Nothing.

  • I’m still a fan of a Between the Sheets (though I will try the Paloma this summer!)

    Shaker half filled with ice – then pour in
    1 shot brandy
    1 shot white rum
    1 shot triple sec
    juice of 1 meyer lemon if you’re lucky enough to have a meyer lemon tree – if not, any old fresh lemon will do.

    Then – uh, “Shake it like your Momma gave ya”, and pour into a chilled martini glass.

    Have ten. Wake up between the sheets.

  • We discovered that our quaint little beachside town has an amazing classic Tiki bar, wherein the sacred and holy ways of Trader Vic are preached and practiced with reverence. It’s a tiny little place, complete with lava lamps, taxidermied puffer fish, shrunken heads (God I hope those are props), and bamboo everything. The muted television plays Gilligan’s Island reruns and surf movies on perpetual repeat, and nine out of ten items on the drinks menu involve FIRE. They make the best god damned Mai Tai you have ever tasted, served (on request) with the real and verified history of the Mai Tai according to Vic Bergeron himself. The name of the drink comes from the Tahitian phrase, “Mai tai roa ae” which translates as “out of this world, the best!”

    1 oz amber Martinique rum
    1 oz dark Jamaican rum
    1 oz fresh lime juice
    1/2 oz orgeat syrup
    1/2 oz of Cointreau
    garnish with mint and a float of dark rum

    Serve in a bucket filled with finely crushed ice. And before you put the garnish on, put that sprig of mint down in your palm and SMACK IT between your hands. It breaks all the cells and releases the aromatic oils. Lay it over the ice, don’t poke it down in, and every time you put your nose in the glass you get a serious hit of mint.

  • Call it the Ochoa, short for “Ouch!…Oh…”

    Dice half a jalapeño removing the seeds. Dice half of a small cucumber (think half-a-big-pickle size). Chop some cilantro. Squeeze half a lime into the mixture. Muddle it all until your eyes water. Set it aside.

    In a large shaker, mix three shots of tequila or mezcal, two shots of Cointreau or Triple-Sec, and one shot of freshly-squeezed lime juice with ice. Dump the muddled mess into it.

    Shake until you can’t shake no more.

    Rim glasses with kosher salt and fill them with ice. Strain the mixture into the glasses. If you have smoky bitters, drop three drops on top. If not, uses standard bitters.

    Ouch. Oh. Enjoy.

  • From the “Same Church, Different Flask Concealed in a Hymnal” File:

    Tequila Hummingbird

    2 oz of Tequila
    1 Tbsp honey
    Heavy dash of bitters ( I prefer Dr. Adam Elmegirab’s Spanish Bitters, but it’s your life do as you wish)
    Juice of 1 grapefruit (and yeah, the fresh squeezed is kind of important here)

    Shake the first 3 ingredients in a shaker with no ice. Do this long enough to “feel the burn” as my personal trainer might say if I had one. This is important to dissolve the honey. Then add ice and grapefruit juice, shake again, pour into rocks glass preloaded with ice.

  • I just made a mixed drink tonight that turned out way more fantastic than I thought it would. This recipe makes two drinks; scale accordingly:

    3 oz bourbon (in my case I used Woodinville Bourbon)
    1 1/2 oz Becherovka (a spicy bitters from the Czech Republic. Mmmmm)
    1 oz Cointreau
    a splash of bitters (in my case Scrappy’s Aromatic Bitters, but Angostura would work too)

    Put this all in a shaker and shake it. You can do this part with or without ice. I like the drink at room temp, but shaken over ice would be good too.

    Pour into martini glasses. Add a small float of lemon juice or a wedge of lemon. Ta da.

  • I’m not much for cocktails, being more of a beer, single malt and highball guy, but the mention of beer and lime juice above reminded me of the Michelada.

    Cut a lime in half, and quarter one half. Squeeze in the quarters and leave them in the glass (squeeze more if you’re hardcore).

    Knock in 5 or 6 drops of Tabasco. Again, more if you’re hardcore. Sriracha might work nicely, but I’ve only done it with Tabasco.

    Fill the rest of the glass with Corona, or some similar lager. Not Bud Light. The baby Jesus cries when you drink Bud Light.

    Enjoy on a very hot day. Also, don’t order this in Mexico unless you’re good with them filling it with ice, which you have to send back so you don’t ruin everyone’s vacation by spending it in the can. Not that this has happened to me or anything.

  • Dark n Stormy – my version, probably heresy

    4 oz rum. at least. maybe more.- something really dark and spicy is traditional, but I like 10 Cane
    6oz Red Rock Ginger Ale. Good and commonly available, but spicy like Ginger beer.
    Splash of fresh fruit juice – orange, pineapple, whatever

    put it in an old fashioned or a mammothrocks glass over ice. repeat. then repeat again.

    Tinto de Verano (Americano version) -good on a hot summer day, and fairly low calorie for those inclined

    2 parts cheap but drinkable red wine – sweeter is better
    1 part Lemon La Croix sparkling water
    serve over ice

  • I have no tequila but I do have cachaca from a weekend of World Cup-induced caipirinhas. I also have excellent Fevertree tonic.

  • This comment section is hereby re-named The Society of Heavenly Drunkards. My dues are in the mail.

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