The Paloma: the hottest cocktail to chill with this summer

The popularity of agave spirits is helping propel the Paloma to the top of the cocktail charts this summer. The long and light, sweet and sour drink is easy to make at home but the secret to making a bar-worthy Paloma is all in the quality of the ingredients

Words by Kate Malczewski In partnership with Franklin & Sons

Looking for summer drinking at its best? Meet the Paloma. In its most elemental form, this punchy pink cocktail has only two ingredients: Tequila and grapefruit soda. It’s simple and straightforward but it’s also easy to level up – just mix in a squeeze of lime juice and a dash of agave syrup, then serve it in a glass with a salted rim.

While the Paloma has long been a favourite in Mexico and the US, its exact origins are unclear. Many sources trace it back to the 1950s, when grapefruit soda became commercially available in Mexico. Its creation is sometimes credited to Don Javier Delgado Corona, founder of the famous bar La Capilla in Tequila, Mexico, and inventor of the Batanga (a mix of Tequila, lime and cola), though Corona himself apparently denied creating the Paloma.

Many sources trace the Paloma back to the 1950s, when grapefruit soda became commercially available in Mexico

But what the drink lacks in historical fact, it makes up for in flavour. ‘It’s nice and zingy and a little bit salty, with refreshing bubbles from the soda,’ says Tommaso Cicala, UK brand ambassador for soft-drink producer Franklin & Sons. ‘What more could you want in a summer cocktail?’

The answer: not much, if the Paloma’s burgeoning popularity in the UK is any indication. Over the past year, online searches for ‘Paloma cocktail’ have shot up 80% and the drink has made its way onto menus across the country. One major contributing factor is the growing thirst for agave spirits. Tequila is on the rise in both supermarkets and bars, with sales in the UK expected to surge a whopping 88% between 2021 and 2026, according to IWSR market analysis.

Tequila is hot right now,’ says Jacob Drew, bartender at Silverleaf in east London. He adds that demand for the Margarita is especially high and believes that the Paloma is on a similar path. ‘As we’re heading into the hotter months, people like a longer drink – something they can sip on and savour. A Paloma is a lovely entry level because it gives people the opportunity to experience the spirit without it being strong or heavy.’

Experimenting with flavoured salts is one way of elevating a homemade Paloma

Cicala agrees that the Paloma’s appeal lies in its approachability. ‘It’s easy to drink, easy to reorder and easy to replicate at home,’ he says. The key to making a bar-worthy Paloma is all in the quality of the ingredients – use a 100% agave blanco Tequila and seek out a well-crafted, well-carbonated soda like Franklin & Sons’ Pink Grapefruit. ‘A good grapefruit soda needs to be balanced; it elevates the drink with effervescence, so the bubbles are very important,’ Cicala explains.

What’s more, the Paloma is an excellent canvas for personalisation. With this in mind, the team at Franklin & Sons launched the Paloma Showdown, tasking top bars in London and Manchester with the creation of a riff on the cocktail. Punters then voted on the best version, crowning one winner the UK’s ultimate Paloma recipe. ‘We wanted to give a little freedom to the bars to show their style,’ explains Cicala.


A good grapefruit soda needs to be balanced; it elevates the drink with effervescence, so the bubbles are very important

The resulting cocktails showcase the versatility of the Tequila and grapefruit combination. For instance, the team at Wacky Wombat in central London dreamed up a version that marries Tequila, habanero distillate, passionfruit and Franklin & Sons Grapefruit Soda. Called the Marimar, it boasts delicate chilli heat and a tropical vibe with a streamlined twist. ‘We decided not to use a garnish because our style is very minimalist, just focusing on what’s in the glass,’ says Davide Lotito, bartender at Wacky Wombat. ‘The habanero distillate that we make in-house gives a bit more body and spiciness.’

Meanwhile, the bartenders at Royal Cocktail Exchange in Fitzrovia put their own playful spin on the Paloma. They used Tequila, melon, manzanilla sherry, Franklin & Sons Pink Grapefruit Soda and a streak of vegan prosciutto salt on the glass, for a Mediterranean-inspired riff that’s fruity, nutty and fun. And over at Silverleaf, Drew and the team crafted a take dubbed Pomelo | Cassia, featuring complementary flavours in the form of a house-made pomelo and cassia cordial with Tequila and grapefruit soda. ‘The grapefruit comes purely from the Franklin & Sons and everything else is there to pair with it,’ says Drew. ‘It’s elevating rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. The Paloma works as a standalone cocktail and we just wanted to play off those flavours.’

Want to tailor this classic summer serve to your own palate? Get adventurous: try replacing the Tequila with mezcal for a smokier, more savoury profile, add a splash of chilli liqueur to spice things up or rim the glass with a boldly flavoured salt. And when you’re really in the mood to flex your bartending skills, you can recreate the best Paloma in the UK at home by mixing up the winning recipe from the Franklin & Sons Paloma Showdown in London.

Boundary’s Other Paloma

Costel Toma, bar manager at Boundary Shoreditch, writes: ‘Other Paloma gives a twist of flavours on the classic Paloma cocktail. The extra refreshment and fruitiness that is coming from the Briottet Pamplemousse liqueur mixed with Patron Silver Tequila, combined with the sweet and sour elements of the lime juice and agave is delightful mixed in a shaker.’


  • 40ml Patron Silver
  • 35ml Briottet Pamplemousse
  • 15ml lime juice
  • 10ml agave syrup
  • 60ml Franklin & Sons Pink Grapefruit Soda

Add the Tequila, Briottet, lime juice and agave syrup to a shaker. When thoroughly mixed, pour over an ice cube in a highball glass and top with Franklin & Sons Pink Grapefruit Soda. Garnish with a slice of fresh grapefruit.