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Enjoy the crisp, citrusy flavour of fresh grapefruit juice and mezcal in this Mezcal Paloma. This grapefruit cocktail is lightly sweet and refreshing, making it a delightful drink to sip this summer. There’s no syrup to make so it’s ready in 5 minutes!
It features the region’s locally-produced agave spirit and pairs perfectly with a wide variety of the delicious traditional foods from Oaxaca.
If you’re in Mexico you’d most likely see a mezcal cocktail served in a glass rimmed in sal de gusano (chile worm salt). But it’s just as delicious when made with sea salt (similar to a margarita ) as in this recipe.
If you’re up for a taste adventure, I’ve included some local variations featuring chile, salt and ground worms as well as ants.
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Easy grapefruit cocktail made without syrup. No need to boil and cool a simple syrup. This cocktail is ready in 5 minutes.
- Authentic Mexican mezcal cocktail using soda pop instead of syrup.
- Perfect for a crowd! So easy to make a big batch in a pitcher.
- Citrus taste that’s refreshing and not too sweet.
- Perfect to serve for Cinco de Mayo and summer patio parties or cookouts. Pairs well with all your Latin American favourite recipes.
- Wholesome ingredients. Made without any cocktail mixes or prepackaged ingredients.
Ingredients in Mezcal Grapefruit Cocktail
All you need are a handful of simple ingredients to make a grapefruit mezcal cocktail. Here’s what goes in it:
- Fresh fruit: Use fresh lemons and pink grapefruit for the best citrus flavour.
- Salt: Use fine-grain kosher salt, sea salt or margarita salt to salt the rim of the glass.
- Mezcal: This Mexican spirit made of agave adds a unique flavour to this paloma cocktail. Use a quality mezcal such as espadín or a young (joven) mezcal.
- Grapefruit juice: Use freshly-squeezed or a quality store-bought grapefruit juice brand, preferably one that’s 100% juice. Cheap juices can be higher in acidity and may contain chemical preservatives and additives, extra sugar and sodium.
- Soda pop: You can use ginger ale or Squirt, the popular Mexican soft drink. This not only gives the mezcal cocktail some bubbles but also lightly sweetens the drink.
There are a few tasty ways to change up your Mezcal paloma. Here are some of my favourites:
- If you prefer a smoky mezcal cocktail swap the joven mezcal for an anejo (aged) mezcal instead.
- For a spicy mezcal cocktail, use salt mixed with tajin, the Mexican lime chile salt. You can even buy it premixed with salt in a special container to rim glasses.
- Want to enjoy an authentic Oaxacan mezcal cocktail? Use the red, spicy sal de gusano (Oaxacan worm salt) on the rim of the glass instead of salt. It’s made with Oaxacan sea salt, toasted and ground agave worms, and red chile costeno.
- For a really dramatic cocktail, use sal de hormiga chicatana on the rim of the glass. This salt is made with ground-up ants. They’re a treasured delicacy in the spring in Oaxaca and Guatemala when the giant ants emerge from their nests. Sal de hormiga chicatana has a jet black colour (thanks to the glossy ant shells) which makes for an impressive presentation.
- Do you know the spirit, raicilla? It’s the agave spirit from the state of Jalisco. You can make this into a raicilla cocktail. Substitute the mezcal with raicilla but reduce the quantity to 1.5 ounces as raicilla is much more potent than mezcal or tequila. Some of this “Mexican moonshine” can be over 100 proof.
How to Make Palomas with Mezcal
Making this mezcal drink with grapefruit is simple. Here’s a breakdown of all the steps.
- Pour the kosher salt into a small dish. Use a lemon wedge with a slit cut in it to dampen the rim of the glass. Flip it over and dip it into the kosher salt.
- Add the ice and mezcal to a shaker glass.
- Add the grapefruit juice.
- And lastly, the ginger ale.
- Squeeze the other lemon wedge into the mixture and then drop it into the shaker glass. Shake the mixture to combine.
- Pour it into the salted glass and garnish with additional lemon wedges and grapefruit slices. Enjoy!
How to Serve a Mezcal Paloma
This easy grapefruit cocktail is perfect for serving year-round but it’s nice and refreshing making it an excellent option in the hot summer months! Here is some inspiration for serving it.
- Serve it up for Cinco de Mayo or the Day of the Dead with peach jalapeno salsa or mango and black bean salsa.
- For a summer lunch, it goes great with a healthy chicken burrito bowl.
- Enjoy it on Taco Tuesday with your favorite tacos topped with tomatillo and tomato salsa or salsa verde.
- Cook up some grilled steak with beer marinade and serve up one of these tasty grapefruit cocktails to your guests.
- It’s perfect for serving for outdoor parties and boating events in the summer!
- These easy Mezcal palomas can be made directly in the glass. Instead of shaking, just stir before enjoying.
- Feel free to customize the amount of any ingredients as needed. You can add more lemon juice if desired or try one of the fun variations mentioned above.
- The amount of ingredients may vary according to the size of the glass used for serving.
- You can mix up palomas in a pitcher if you’re serving a crowd. I recommend serving the ice on the side so the drink doesn’t get watered down.
The paloma is a tequila-based drink made with lime, tequila, and grapefruit soda. In this recipe, we’re swapping the traditional tequila for mezcal. This adds a more nuanced flavour to the simple cocktail.
Mezcal is a clear liquor that originated in Oaxaca, Mexico. It is somewhat related to tequila with some small differences. Tequila is made using ONLY blue agave that’s grown in one particular area of Mexico. On the other hand, mezcal can be produced from a variety of types of agave that are grown anywhere in Mexico. Its flavour is often more peppery and smoky than tequila.
More Fun Cocktails
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Easy Mezcal Paloma (Mezcal Grapefruit Cocktail)
- 2 Lemon wedges
- 1 pink grapefruit
- Fine Kosher Salt for rimming the glass, optional
- 2 ounce Mezcal preferably Espadin or a young joven mezcal
- 2 ounce grapefruit juice
- 3 ounce ginger ale or Squirt
- Make a slit in a lemon wedge and place it on the glass and slightly squeeze around the rim of the glass then flip and dip into kosher salt on a small dish.
- In a shaker add the ice, mezcal, grapefruit juice, and ginger ale.
- Squeeze the other lemon wedge into the mixture and then drop it in. Shake to combine and pour into glass.
- Garnish with additional lemon wedges or grapefruit and enjoy.
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Dividing her time between Canada, Guatemala and Mexico (or the nearest tropical beach), Michele Peterson is the founder of A Taste for Travel. Her award-winning travel and food writing has appeared in Lonely Planet’s cookbook Mexico: From the Source, National Geographic Traveler, Fodor’s and 100+ other publications.
Read more about Michele Peterson.