Spicy, smoky and a little salty…the jalapeño paloma is a party in a glass.
The holiday weekend is upon us and it’s finally beginning to feel a little bit like summer around here. What a difference a week makes; we’ve turned off the heat and suddenly need the AC. We are beach bound this weekend to take advantage of the warmer temperatures and I can. not. wait. I’m ready to kick back, relax with friends and enjoy the long weekend.
In my world, a holiday weekend demands a special cocktail. Sometimes it’s sangria, other times I’ll serve a light vodka cocktail mixed with an herb-infused simple syrup, but this week I’m pulling out the big guns with this jalapeño paloma. A paloma is a Mexican cocktail that is traditionally made with tequila, grapefruit soda and a squeeze of lime juice. It’s tart and refreshing and thirst-quenching on a hot summer day.
Since I love jalapeño anything, but especially in my cocktails, I made a jalapeño simple syrup that brings the heat with a little bit of sweetness. I also swapped out regular tequila in favor of mezcal. If you haven’t tried mezcal before, stop whatever it is you’re doing and go out and buy a bottle. Seriously, I’ll wait. Like tequila, mezcal is an agave-based liquor, but mezcal has an undeniable smoky flavor. Where the agave plant is uncooked in tequila, in mezcal it is roasted in a stone-lined pit over a period of days, then milled and left to ferment. The fermenting process takes several additional days before the mash is distilled and in the case of mezcal reposado or añejo, it is then aged in oak barrels for several months. The result is an assertive liquor that will make your regular tequila-based cocktail a showstopper.
Now to be clear, mezcal is not for the faint of heart. If you’re a tequila drinker I think you will appreciate its bold, earthy flavor, but if you haven’t jumped on the tequila bandwagon yet, you might want to tone it down by starting with half tequila and half mezcal. This paloma will still taste great and maybe by your second (or third) you’ll go whole hog. After all it is a long weekend which means an extra day to let loose (and then recover). Cheers!
- 2 oz jalapeño simple syrup recipe follows
- 1 oz lime juice
- 4 oz mezcal
- 4 oz grapefruit juice
- 4 oz club soda
- Kosher salt
- Grapefruit wedge and jalapeño slices for garnish
- Ice/cocktail shaker
- Jalapeño Simple Syrup
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 water
- 2 jalapeños coarsely chopped
Jalapeño Simple Syrup: Combine all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature, about 15 mins. Strain and reserve.
Paloma: Pour some salt onto a plate, then rub the edges of two tumblers with a grapefruit slice and dip into salt. Fill the glasses with ice.
Combine all the ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously and pour into two glasses. Garnish with grapefruit and jalapeño slices.