This sparkling pineapple Paloma cocktail is the most refreshing drink you’ll have this summer. (But shhh… no one will tell on you if you want to drink this during less sunny seasons.) Sparkling water, pineapple juice, fresh citrus juices, and tequila come together to make a drink that rivals the margarita. Read along for healthy cocktail-making tips, how to make Palomas for a crowd, and a bonus tip on making a non-alcoholic mocktail!
What is a Paloma?
Refreshing, juicy, and tart… La Paloma has it all! A Paloma cocktail is usually made with grapefruit juice and sparkling water (or grapefruit soda) and tequila, plus a squeeze of lime and salt. I put a twist on a traditional recipe by changing some of the ingredients a bit, but I think you’ll dig it!
Confession: I like Palomas better than margaritas.
YEP. I said it! You can fight me on it if you’d want, but I’d suggest you try this drink first. If you enjoy margaritas, I think you’ll really enjoy Paloma cocktails. They’re less sweet, more fruit-forward, fresher-tasting, and lighter than margaritas.
Traditionally, La Paloma is made with tequila, grapefruit soda (Squirt, Fresca), lime, and salt. It’s hard to trace the exact origins of this refreshing drink, but most sources credit its creation to Mexico. (Which makes sense, given the tequila and citrus fruit.) This cocktail hasn’t caught on as much as margaritas have in the US, but it is widely enjoyed in Mexico.
I did make a few substitutions based on what I had available. (Fresh grapefruit juice, sparkling water, and agave instead of grapefruit soda.) It’s worth noting that both versions are delicious! It’s also worth noting that the pineapple juice is not usually found in a Paloma.
Drinking alcohol in moderation can absolutely fit into a healthy diet. (Keyword – moderation.) This drink, especially, is low in calories and added sugar. (Plus it has tons of vitamin C from all of the citrus fruit that’s included. Score!) That makes it feel more refreshing to drink and may prevent you from feeling as sluggish after drinking.
To reduce sugar in this and other cocktail recipes, try these tips:
- Opt for fresh-squeezed juices.
- Try adding your own sweetener instead of buying a pre-made mix.
- Experiment with flavored sparkling waters in place of sparkling wine or soda.
There are SO many cocktails you can make with sparkling waters! My favorite brands are La Croix and Bubly, but I’m seeing plenty of other new options on store shelves now. I used grapefruit Bubly in this recipe.
Want more cocktails you can make with sparkling water?
How to Make a Pineapple Paloma Cocktail
- Juice 1 grapefruit. I use a simple citrus juicer like this one, but you can use any citrus reamer. Don’t have a juicer or reamer? You can also juice citrus with a fork. Just cut the fruit in half, stick a fork in the center, and then squeeze the whole fruit with your hand over a large measuring cup or bowl. Set aside.
- Add grapefruit juice, tequila, lime juice, pineapple juice, and a squeeze of agave to a cocktail shaker cup. Add ice, then shake!
- Prepare your glass. Cut pineapple (if you haven’t already) to prepare your garnish. Pour a bit of salt onto a plate, then wipe the rim of a glass with lime juice or water. Dip the rim into the salt. (You can use any glass you have handy. A margarita glass, old fashioned glass, juice glass, highball glass, stemless wine glass, or even a mason jar will work. I think I’ve had this drink from all of those glasses at some point!)
- Add ice to your glass, then strain the tequila and juice mixture into your glass. Top with as much sparkling water as you’d like and stir!
- Make it a Paloma mocktail (non-alcoholic) – This one is easy! You can omit the tequila and this pineapple Paloma recipe is still fun and flavorful (especially with a salt rim and pineapple garnish *wink*)
- Make it for a crowd – This is easy too! You can multiply this recipe by 4 for a crowd, which will fill a small pitcher. Instead of using your jigger a million times, use these quantities: 1 cup each of tequila, grapefruit juice, and pineapple juice, 1/2 cup lime juice, 2 tsp agave nectar, and 1 can (or 12 oz) sparkling water.
- Make it without pineapple juice – Aaaannd… you’ll have a classic grapefruit Paloma! Also a great drink.
- Make it with a different type of juice – Instead of pineapple juice, you could also use another sweet tropical fruit juice like mango, papaya, or passionfruit. FYI – these juices may be a bit harder to find than pineapple juice.
- Make it with vodka or rum – These types of alcohol would take this drink out of Paloma territory, but I’m still into it.
- Make it without agave nectar – Feel free to use other liquid sweeteners (honey, simple syrup) or no sweeteners at all!
- Make it sweeter – Add 1.5 oz grapefruit juice and 2.5 oz pineapple juice. You can also try doubling the agave nectar (1 tsp instead of 1/2 tsp.)
Pineapple Paloma Cocktail
- cocktail shaker
- citrus reamer or juicer
- 2 oz silver tequila
- 2 oz grapefruit juice freshly squeezed
- 1 oz lime juice freshly squeezed
- 2 oz pineapple juice
- 1/2 tsp light agave nectar
- 3 oz sparkling water grapefruit-flavored
- 2 cups ice
- 1 pineapple wedge
- salt rim
- Add tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, pineapple juice, and agave nectar to a cocktail shaker. Add about 1 cup of ice to the shaker, secure the lid, and shake, shake, shake!
- If you would like to add a salt rim, now is the time! Pour some salt onto a small plate, wet the rim of your cocktail glass with water or a lime wedge, then dip your glass to lightly coat with salt.
- Fill your glass with ice and pour in the mixture from the shaker. Top with sparkling water and gently stir. Add a pineapple wedge if desired and enjoy!
- This recipe tastes best with fresh grapefruit juice and lime juice. You can also use the storebought kind, but the flavor will be noticeably less bright.
- To get 2 oz of grapefruit juice, you will need about 1 medium grapefruit.
- Any sparkling water will do, but grapefruit is lovely if you can find it!
- If you’d like to dilute your drink a bit more or serve it in a larger glass, add more sparkling water.
- To make this recipe for a crowd, see ‘Recipe Modifications.’
- Nutrition facts are without garnishes. Garnishes will add some additional sodium, sugar, carbohydrates, and a bit of fiber (if you eat the pineapple wedge like I do!)
What to Serve With Pineapple Paloma Cocktails
The sweetness and tartness of this recipe pair really well with spicy foods and Mexican-inspired flavors. Check out these recipes from the blog!
- One Pan Black Bean and Sweet Potato Quesadillas
- Instant Pot Shredded Chicken Tacos
- Crispy Roasted Chickpeas