The Paloma may never unseat the margarita—but it can certainly spice things up. (photo by Christine Trant)

These days, food “holidays”–and more importantly, cocktail holidays–seem like important touchstones, more welcome than ever. So when the emails for upcoming Cinco de Mayo menus started arriving, I paid extra attention. It’s normal at my house to sort through today’s options while still full from last night’s feast. (I justify this as supporting local restaurants.) Along with the barbacoa fajitas and chipotle crema nachos, I found myself tempted by the take-out cocktails; the offerings have been dominated this year by the now-everywhere Paloma.

I don’t know why Palomas escaped our collective attention for so long. Maybe it’s the resurgence of old school classics or maybe sheltering-in-place has us in a tequila frame-of-mind. Or, it could be that I just scored a four-pack of the just-released sparkling pink grapefruit mixer from Fever Tree. Either way, the classic Paloma–usually a mixture of tequila, grapefruit juice, a splash of lime, simple syrup, and a sparkling soda—has been in the air this spring.

Bon Appetit calls their version of the Paloma Mexico’s real favorite cocktail. And while gourmet versions feature muddled sugar and mezcal, your favorite Mexican restaurant will usually make it with tequila and grapefruit-flavored Squirt, the classic Mexican soda. Whether you’re a traditionalist or take the more practical route, the Paloma might just be the change you’re looking for to usher in the summer.

UK-based company Fever Tree touts the sparkling pink grapefruit mixer as its first designed specifically for the U.S. market and to capitalize on the booming popularity of tequila. Their 18 cult-favorite tonics, ginger beers, sodas, and other offerings have become a must for cocktailers—especially gin drinkers who like to try them all before passionately defending their favorite. (I will fight you over the Refreshingly Light Cucumber Tonic!) Fever Tree even has a flavor wheel for cocktails and a pairing chart for over 100 different gins. The brand is a juggernaut. Frankly, the downside to Fever Tree products is that the individual bottles aren’t recloseable, which means once I’ve opened a bottle for one cocktail, I might as well have two to finish it off. 

Cocktail historians can’t agree on the origins of the Paloma and some speculate that it may have been frozen out by the margarita craze. However, as Teresa Finney via Tales of the Cocktail notes, it’s time to give the Paloma a new lease on life.  Fever Tree’s timing couldn’t have been better. Here’s their version—which can of course be garnished in an endless number of ways.

Sparkling Paloma
3 parts Fever-Tree Sparkling Pink Grapefruit
1 part tequila
Add tequila to a highball glass, add ice and top with Fever-Tree Sparkling Pink Grapefruit.
Garnish with a juicy pink grapefruit wedge.