Sipping mezcal on a Tuesday with my boss was one of the more unconventional workdays I’ve had in a while. But, like many shifts in routine, it sparked a little creativity and inspired the ingredients of this Spicy Mezcal Paloma recipe.
On our recent team trip to Oaxaca, we spent three days soaking up the vibrant art, food and culture of the city (check out Camille’s favorites list here). Of course, a mezcal tasting was warranted, as Oaxaca is home to this smoky spirit. The experience left me itching to infuse more mezcal moments into my cocktails this summer. Enter: This Spicy Mezcal Paloma Recipe.
I’ll start by confessing that this recipe breaks a cardinal rule of mezcal drinking. We learned that mezcal is meant to be drunk neat, rather than mixed into cocktails. But if you’re anything like me, you might need a little fresh juice and soda to ease your mezcal journey. Plus, it’s hard to turn down a classic, thirst-quenching Paloma, so let’s get started.
What is a Paloma?
A traditional Mexican Paloma is made with tequila blanco and grapefruit soda. This version is a riff on the classic, with a mix of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, lime juice and sparkling water. The result is a cocktail that is citrusy without being overly sweet. This recipe also calls for blank tequila in addition to the mezcal to balance the flavors and round out the drink. Finally, I’ve found that using honey gives my cocktails a touch of sweetness without a headache. And don’t forget your sliced jalapeño and chili salt for that extra kick!
What is the difference between tequila and mezcal?
Mezcal has been produced in Mexico for centuries and believe it or not, tequila is actually a kind of mezcal. Both tequila and mezcal come from agave plants, but the types of agaves and production methods differ for each spirit. During our tasting we learned that mezcal production is deeply rooted in tradition and starts with cooking in the ground in natural ovens. It is later distilled in copper pots, giving it that distinct, smoky flavor. However, we have learned that the more authentic the mezcal, the less smoky it tastes.
What do you need to make this Mezcal Paloma recipe?
This Mezcal Paloma combines a unique mix of flavors: sharp, smoky, spicy and just a little sweet. What more could you want in a drink? Here’s what you need to mix this cocktail in less than five minutes:
- A good white tequila. I prefer LALO.
- Your favorite mezcal. I am a fan of madre.
- A few limes. Freshly squeezed lime juice makes all the difference.
- Grapefruit. You can opt for store-bought grapefruit juice, but the drink will taste freshest if you squeeze the grapefruit yourself.
- Sweetheart. For a touch of sweetness.
- Sparkling water. It gives your Paloma that little bit extra. I love Topo chico.
- jalapeno. A little goes a long way!
- Chili salt. You can buy store-bought chili salt or make your own (instructions below!).
When it comes to garnishing, I’ve used fresh herbs like rosemary, lime or grapefruit wedges, and even sliced cucumber.
What goes well with a Mezcal Paloma?
These Mezcal Palomas were a crowd pleaser at my house this summer. They go well with some of our favorites summer dinner recipes. Mix up a batch and enjoy your cocktails alongside pan-fried chicken fajitas, pistachio-crusted halibut or one of our best taco recipes of all time. For summer get-togethers, I love to double (or triple!) the recipe and prepare it in a large pitcher so friends can pour over ice when they’re ready for a cocktail.