How the Paloma Cocktail Got Its Name

Paloma

The Paloma Cocktail is a refreshing mix of flavors and taste sensations, suitable for warm summer days or anytime you wish to enjoy a drink that is sweet, sour, and citrusy, with a slight bitterness and a hint of salt. That sums up the legendary cocktail. It’s been around for decades, but have you ever wondered who created the original Paloma? We’ve heard a few different origin stories. Our research led us to learn more about what historians have uncovered about the Paloma.

What is the Paloma Cocktail?

The Paloma Cocktail is an alcoholic beverage that uses Tequila as its spirited ingredient. It’s a take on the classic Margarita cocktail that is popular in Mexico. It’s a refreshing blend of grapefruit, sweetener, soda water, and tequila. It’s a simple cocktail to make, but there are a few steps to take to achieve the best results. Cuervo provides a solid recipe for the classic version of the cocktail.

Ingredients

  • Cocktail glasses
  • Ice
  • 1 part soda water
  • 1 part grapefruit juice
  • 1 part Tequila
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar per cocktail
  • Lime cut into wheels for garnish
  • Coarse salt to rim the glass

Prepare the cocktail glass. Rub the juice of a lime wheel over the rim of the glass to moisten, then dip it into the coarse salt to coat the rim. Add ice to the cocktail glass. Add the tequila, grapefruit juice, then the sugar. Stir the ingredients together. Pour in the soda last, add the lime wheel garnish and serve.

Who invented the Paloma Cocktail and when did it originate?

Taste Cocktails staff share that little is known about the popular Mexican Paloma Cocktail, other than the name is translated as “The Dove,” and there is a 1960s folk song that it may have been named for. They surmise that the former owner of the La Capilla, in Tequila, Mexico, Don Javier Delgado Corona was the inventor. he was also a bartender. It wasn’t a satisfying answer and we knew that someone had to have more information about the origination of the Paloma. We found the work of a researcher who traced back the history of the drink as far back as he could, then put the question in a forum at Alcademics. Contributors shared the story of Evan Harrison, who shared it as one of the inclusions in a 1953 pamphlet titled “Popular Cocktails of the Rio Grande.” It was a false lead. It is also rumored to be created by one of Harrison’s contemporary rivals named Manuel Gonzales, around the same time frame. Other references found through sleuthing, date the cocktail back fifty years before Harrison’s birth.

Further research suggests that the Paloma was originally made as an American drink after the popular carbonated beverage Squirt was invented and imported into Mexico. It was used in the Paloma during the 1950s, as noted in several books containing recipes for the Paloma Cocktail, but none prove its origins. For all, we know they could be variants of the original. When asked if he was the creator of the Paloma, Don Javier denied the claim, removing yet one more clue from the mystery that surrounds the origination of the beverage. Texas Monthly suggests that the Paloma may have been created between 1938 and 1950, when Squirt was invented in the United States in Phoenix, Arizona. It was advertised as a tequila mixer for the first time in 1950, but that wouldn’t have stopped bartenders from using it as such from the time of its introduction to the market. The details of the origin of the Paloma Cocktail, sadly, seem to be lost to history. We may never know who put the first version together, the city of its origin, or the date, but we have some good stories about it, even if they’re not true accounts. The story that makes the most sense, from a factual and historical perspective would be the version that names Manuel Gonzales as the creator, before 1953, but it has yet to be confirmed and there’s not much likelihood of that happening. We lean toward believing that it was created in Mexico instead of the United States. It’s one of those things that will probably remain one of the great mysteries.

Final thoughts

The Paloma Cocktail is a beverage that has its roots in Mexico as one of the most popular traditional drinks in parts of the country since the 1950s. Beyond that, its history is murky at best. We’ll probably never know who invented the recipe, but it has endured for over seventy years as a classic. The Paloma is a lovely and refreshing cocktail that makes the most out of grapefruit juice and soda water, but it’s good when made with Squirt grapefruit soda. It offers a refreshing cool drink on a hot day with a kick of tequila supped over a salty rim of a perfectly prepared cocktail glass. A gentle squeeze of lime can add an extra tangy punch to a drink that offers a little something for every one of drinking age. It’s salty, sweet, sour, and delicious. Historians consumed with a need to know about the origins of this amazing summertime drink have spent time researching its history, only to find a series of legends, all leading to dead ends and circumstances that raise red flags as to their authenticity. It’s a great mystery that will probably endure until the end of time. Stories come and go, but with nobody credible stepping up to take credit, the person who created it has likely passed from this life without confirming his secret. Perhaps the mystery of its origins makes it all the more special. There are a few different ways to make the Paloma, but we think the traditional recipe offered by Cuervo is the best.

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