8 Best Tequilas for a Paloma, According to Bartenders

Whether you opt for blanco or reposado tequila, there’s no wrong way to mix the Mexican favorite.

<p>Food & Wine / Infinium Spirits / Olmeca Altos / Pernod Ricard / Ghost Tequila / Getty Images</p>

Food & Wine / Infinium Spirits / Olmeca Altos / Pernod Ricard / Ghost Tequila / Getty Images

The Paloma is often seen as the little sister to the slightly more famous Margarita, but this summer-friendly cocktail deserves to be the star of its own show.

One of the easiest cocktails to perfect at home, this simple, three-ingredient highball calls for tequila, lime juice, and grapefruit soda — maybe even a salt rim or lime wheel for garnish, if you want to get fancy. Pair it with quick-and-easy snack mixes like miniature pretzels and spicy corn nuts, and you’re ready to greet guests for cocktails at your next dinner party.

The most important ingredient you’ll need to decide about is the tequila. Budget-friendly bottles will certainly do the trick, and while blanco tequila is often the go-to, lightly aged reposado adds extra dimension plus woodsy spice and caramelized fruit notes to this refreshing grapefruit cocktail.

“Some purists will say that tequila was only intended to be enjoyed blanco style, but when talking cocktails and drinking what you like, grab a tequila from a quality tequila-making family or producer,” says Alex Rosenbleeth, bar manager of Boulon Brasserie in Tampa.

Here are eight bartender-approved bottles guaranteed to take the classic tequila cocktail up a notch or two.

Tequila Ocho

<p>Food & Wine / Tequila Ocho</p>

Food & Wine / Tequila Ocho

“My number one choice for tequila in a Paloma would be Tequila Ocho — there aren’t many better options on the market in terms of value for money,” says Barna Jeremias, bar manager at LPM Restaurant and Bar in Miami.

The single-estate tequila is known for its fresh herbaceousness and thick mouthfeel.

“Additive-free, this tequila really embodies all the right elements of aroma, flavor, and texture you are looking for in a blanco tequila,” says Jeremias. “Light pepper, citrus, and honey notes, along with earthy characteristics will guarantee total harmony with other ingredients in the cocktail.”

Corralejo Reposado

<p>Food & Wine / Infinium Spirits</p>

Food & Wine / Infinium Spirits

Double-distilled and aged in oak barrels for four months, the vanilla notes in this reposado add depth and complexity to a Paloma without overpowering the other flavors.

“[Corralejo’s] smooth texture and clean finish make it a versatile choice for this refreshing cocktail,” says Waél Deek, beverage director at One More Hospitality Group in New York City, which includes Alice, Travelers, Poets & Friends, Alaluna, Osteria57, and Pamina Dolci e Gelato.

“Aromas of agave cooked with refreshing grapefruit and lime citrus notes complement the grapefruit flavor and lime juice,” says Deek.It balances well with the mixers and enhances the overall drinking experience.”

Mijenta Reposado

<p>Food & Wine / Mijenta Tequila</p>

Food & Wine / Mijenta Tequila

“I always love to use a reposado in my Palomas — that little bit of barrel age on the tequila is a gamechanger for the drink,” says Izzy Tulloch, head bartender at Milady's in New York City.

Spending up to six months in a blend of American and French oak casks gives Mijenta Reposado a fuller expression and an almost buttery mouthfeel,adding great texture to a Paloma.

“There's a hint of cardamom and a stewed banana thing happening on the palate, and this elevates the cocktail in a really cool way,” says Tulloch.

Ghost Tequila

<p>Food & Wine / Ghost Tequila</p>

Food & Wine / Ghost Tequila

To make a Spicy Paloma, skip the effort of slicing jalapeños.Instead, reach for Ghost Tequila, a 100-percent blue agave tequila infused with a hint of ghost peppers, one of the world’s hottest chiles.

“This bold and exceptionally smooth craft tequila infuses the drink with the perfect amount of heat,” says Conner Hinrichs, bar manager of Hunter’s Kitchen & Bar in South Boston. “It awakens the senses with a flash of spice that seamlessly melds into the exceptionally smooth taste.”

Milagro Reposado

<p>Food & Wine / MILAGRO TEQUILA</p>


At Public Hotel’s Two Fifteen bar in New York City, head mixologist Charlotte Voisey’s top pick for a Paloma is Milagro Reposado.

“It is an agave-forward tequila on the brighter side, which works really well with such a refreshing citrus-led long drink like this,” says Voisey. “The time spent resting in old American oak brings a good balance of gentle spice and vanilla sweetness from the barrel, which combines particularly well with grapefruit.”

Olmeca Altos Plata

<p>Food & Wine / Olmeca Altos / Pernod Ricard</p>

Food & Wine / Olmeca Altos / Pernod Ricard

The brainchild of two top bartenders, the late Henry Besant and Dre Masso, made in partnership with Maestro Tequilero Jesús Hernandez, this is a tequila by and for bartenders.

“This is a 100% blue agave tequila, slow-cooked in brick ovens, where it gets herbal notes and a slightly sweet and fruity aroma,” says Reynier Ernesto, bar manager at El Salón at Esmé Miami Beach Hotel.  “It adds freshness and a lingering finish to this very citric cocktail (if perfectly mixed) for a drink that’s fit for any time of the day and any season of the year.”

Tapatío Blanco 110

<p>Food & Wine / Tequila Tapati­o </p>

Food & Wine / Tequila Tapati­o

Clocking in at a punchy 55% ABV(110 proof,) the maximum alcohol level allowed for tequila,this blanco may be on the stronger side, but its aromas are subtle and smooth — think raw agave, white pepper, citrus, and mint.

"Tapatío excels at bottling at this strength, with its concentrated agave flavors and vibrant citrus undertones,” says Harrison Kenney, bartender at Bar Nouveau in Paris.

Stephen Wicker, bar manager of Sweet Liberty in Miami Beach, adds that tequila can sometimes get lost in a Paloma, which is why he suggests using a higher proof blanco tequila like Tapatío Blanco 110.“The higher proof will let the tequila shine through without feeling unbalanced in a long drink,” he says.

Arette Suave Blanco

<p>Food & Wine / Tequila Arette</p>

Food & Wine / Tequila Arette

A great blanco tequila to sip neat or mix with Jarritos grapefruit soda, Arette Suave Blanco blends the vibrant flavors of agave and subtle black pepper spice.

At Tokyo Confidential in Japan, it’s poured as the house tequila, and founder Holly Graham says its floral and fruity notes complement the grapefruit in the Paloma especially well.

Felipe Diaz, bar manager at Zingerman's Roadhouse in Ann Arbor, MI, agrees: “It's got the earthy and vegetal notes that nicely counterpoint the citrus, and yet makes for a bright thirst quencher.”

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