Published on May 30th, 2013 | by Jackie


Breaking Down the Paloma with Camper English


by Jackie Armstrong

I couldn’t think of more fitting hosts for a Palomapalooza than Camper English (Alcademics) and Don Julio Tequila. If you aren’t familiar with The Paloma, it is a lovely little cocktail made with tequila, grapefruit soda, lime and salt. Camper, along with mixologist Lynnette Marrero made 3 delicious Paloma variations for us to sip on while we learned how he very thoroughly broke down the cocktail, one ingredient at a time.

Tequila, Tequila

Don Julio was the star of all the Paloma tests and trials. The Don Julio Blanco and Don Julio Reposado are the more common choices. I also like the richness that an añejo tequila gives the cocktail. They really all can work as long as it is a nicely made tequila.

Grapefruit Soda

The star ingredient of a Paloma (after the tequila, obviously). Camper cut no corners when evaulating which was best. He tasted 21 different grapefruit sodas. He tried commonly used sodas (like Squirt and Jarritos), old time sodas, natural and the regulars. We got a glimpse of his very detailed spreadsheet which contained information like brand notes and tasting notes for the sodas on their own AND with tequila as well. Talk about true Alcademics!

Camper also tried fresh grapefruit. Turns out it is great in grapefruit soda, but not as great for making your Paloma.

The winner of the grapefruit taste test?  San Pellegrino Grapefruit, with its’ natural zest and grapefruit taste. 


Camper tried a few other acids to see if anything could be a potential replacement for the lime in Paloma. These included acid phosphate, lactart (acid of milk) and vinegar. Lactart had the potential to work, but I think we will stick with the lime!


11 different types of salt later ( that’s a whole lotta salt) Himalayan Pink Salt and French Sea Salt came out on top.


The quick and dirty story on bitters is this: They don’t really add a lot to a good Paloma, but they may help improve a bad one.

Paloma at The Randolph

Lots of folks are doing make your own bloody mary or bellini bars at home, but I loved the idea Camper had of a build your own Paloma bar for a party. You may stumble upon some great creations (and if you do, please share)! All you need:

  • 2 or 3 types of tequila (Don Julio maybe?)
  • A few grapefruit sodas (Whole Foods Pink Grapefruit Soda, San Pellegrino Grapefruit & Spindrift Sparkling Grapefruit)
  • Salt (The Himalayan Pink Salt looks great on the table!)
  • Limes cut into wedges

The nice thing about the Paloma is that most cocktail bars have the ingredients to make one, so I will often ask the bartender for one even if it isn’t listed on the menu. I’ve recently had some great Palomas at Randolph on Broome and Gran Electrica in Dumbo. The Paloma Fresca at Saxon + Parole is a popular favorite – and of course the Spicy Paloma at Mayahuel, made with jalapeno tequila. YUM!


Photo credit: Drizzle & Dip


Jackie is a freelance writer with a focus on food & cocktail events in NYC (and beyond). She shares all of her latest finds on her blog One Girl’s Dish. You can also follow her on Twitter at @onegirlsdish


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