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Spicy Paloma Recipe

This easy and healthy version of a classic Paloma drink comes together quickly, has a kick with added jalapeño, and is super refreshing in the summer with the addition of grapefruit sparkling water.

two glasses with cocktail and lime garnish

Why is it called a Paloma?

What is a Paloma? Only the second best tequila cocktail in the world!!

That’s totally my opinion but I will say that the Paloma, which means dove in Spanish, is the most loved cocktail in Mexico.

Not the margarita! I’m just as surprised as you are.

The dove is most associated with peace and I can tell you that I am totally peaceful after drinking one of these!

Ingredients Needed

The recipe for a classic Paloma is simple, which I think is why I love it so much.  You know that I am a sucker for making 3 Ingredient Cocktails

The only ingredients are

  • tequila
  • grapefruit soda
  • lime wedge

Occasionally there is a salt rim or a grapefruit garnish involved but not always. This is meant to be a “working man’s” drink so it’s kept simple. This is easier than a margarita and most restaurants in Mexico have tequila and bottles of grapefruit soda on the table with a bowl of cut lime.

What’s easier than that? And you don’t have to wait to order your drink!

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overhead picture of two cocktails with jalapeno slices as garnish

The first question that comes up when talking about making a Paloma cocktail is…

What is the best tequila for Paloma?

The best tequila to pair with the tart grapefruit is a blanco or a silver tequila. These have the cleanest and crispiest flavor to pair with the fruit.

A Blanco tequila is not aged in barrels so it’s the purest flavor.

Using an Añejo or a Reposado have been aged in oak barrels which adds color and other flavors that will compete with the grapefruit. So I don’t recommend either of these with a Paloma.

What does it taste like?

A Paloma drink or cocktail has a clean, crisp flavor of grapefruit that is balanced out by the sugar in the grapefruit soda. Some use Fresca, Jarritos, or another grapefruit soda.

Jarritos is usually the go-to for the grapefruit soda part of the Paloma because it is from Mexico, but what if you can’t find Jarritos? Fresca is the next best option or maybe Squirt soda, but what if you don’t want SODA?

If you are trying to cut calories you really don’t want a soda, much less a lot of fruit juice because it too has a lot of sugar. I have a better option now.

If you are not into sugary sodas or if you are trying to keep your drinking calories low, I use a grapefruit flavored sparkling water instead!

A small amount of grapefruit juice adds in some extra grapefruit flavor along with a touch of sweetness from the natural sugars in the fruit.

There are a lot of different grapefruit sparkling water brands in the stores so use your favorite. Feel free to use club soda too.

Don’t forget the salt on the rim! I love a little salt to balance out the tart flavor of the grapefruit.

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sparkling water being poured onto a cocktail

Just because you like a tart cocktail doesn’t mean that you can’t have a little spice in it too. What goes great with a Mexican cocktail?  Jalapeños!  Not a ton but just enough.

I take a few slices of fresh jalapeños, be sure to wear gloves when handling them or you will be sorry later, and toss them in the bottom of the glass. Muddle or smash them with a muddler tool or a spoon if you don’t have one a few times to release the spicy juices.

Once the jalapeños are smashed, add the ice, grapefruit juice, and top with sparkling water!

If you don’t have any fresh jalapeño peppers available you can use a spicy simple syrup like my Chili Pepper Simple Syrup that is made with jalapeños and Serrano peppers. It will add a little more sweetness too!

Nothing could be better for highlighting tequila and getting all the spicy, tart, and salty cravings over with one cocktail.

closeup of a paloma drink with jalapeno slices on top and a lime garnish

Is a Paloma a “Well Drink?”

Yes, it is! A well drink is a cocktail that is made with “house” or low cost alcohol and are usually stored in the “well” or counter railing within reach of the bartender.

Most, if not all, bars have tequila and grapefruit juice in stock.

My Sparkling Jalapeño Paloma Cocktail is the perfect blend of grapefruit, tequila, and jalapeños and will complete your Cinco de Mayo menu.

Try it as a paloma shot too!

If you love this recipe as much as I do, please write a five-star review in the comment section below (or on Pinterest with the “tried it” button – you can now add pictures into reviews, too!), and be sure to help me share on facebook!

grapefruit cocktail with the text "skinny recipe" and "spicy paloma"

More Easy Party Foods

two glasses with cocktail and lime garnish

Sparkling Jalapeño Paloma Recipe

This easy and healthy version of a classic Paloma drink comes together quickly, has a kick with added jalapeño, and is super refreshing in the summer with the addition of grapefruit sparkling water.
4.54 from 26 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Drinks and Cocktails
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 cocktail
Calories: 220kcal
Author: Jennifer Stewart


  • 2 jalapeño slices
  • 1 lime wedge
  • 0.5 ounce lime juice
  • 2 oz tequila blanco
  • 4 oz grapefruit sparkling water
  • 1 oz grapefruit juice


Make the Sparkling Jalapeño Paloma Cocktail

  • Rim the glass with lime juice and salt.
  • Add the jalapeño slices to a glass.
  • Squeeze the lime wedge into the glass.
  • Muddle the jalapeño slices in the lime juice.
  • Add ice to the glass.
  • Pour in the tequila and grapefruit juice into the glass.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Top with the grapefruit sparkling water.
  • Garnish with jalapeño slices.


*If you like this recipe, please leave me a comment and rate it with some stars.  Thank you!


Serving: 1g | Calories: 220kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 2g | Sodium: 6mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 10g

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Recipe Rating

Michelle Lazarus

Monday 22nd of June 2020

I can’t drink tequila. Any suggestion on what to substitute?


Monday 22nd of June 2020

Feel free to use vodka or rum if possible.

Andrea Y.

Wednesday 22nd of August 2018

Spicy, Flavorful drink! Looks very Refreshing with a twist.

Andrea Y.

Wednesday 22nd of August 2018

Spicy, Flavorful drink! Looks very Refreshing with a twist.