For years I have been a major fan of tequila. I love a tequila cocktail, I even love tequila on the rocks (when it’s GOOD, obviously). But in more recent years, I have been falling for bourbon. No not bourbon on the rocks, though. I’d still choose tequila for that. But bourbon cocktails? Sign. Me. Up. As in, I have been finding myself swapping classic tequila cocktails with bourbon. Or cocktails like Moscow Mules where I’d swap for tequila (that’s a Mexican Mule) I am now swapping it for bourbon! That’s a Kentucky Mule! There’s so much more depth of flavor and complexity to bourbon that I am finding they work more nicely in so many cocktails. And one that I’m loving at the moment especially for summer, is a Paloma. But make it a bourbon (or whiskey!) Paloma.
How To Make The Perfect Bourbon Paloma
A Paloma is a classic tequila-based cocktail and is super easy to make. It has very few ingredients, lots of fresh juices and just a bit of sweetness. You can make them a few ways but I think the most classic is using grapefruit soda as the grapefruit juice portion. Think Fresca. Yes, Fresca. But I don’t keep soda in my house and you can also do this with just freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. All you need is a bit of sugar to sweeten it up. Even with the Fresca it’s still not an overly sweet cocktail which I like. It has a good refreshing bite to it thanks to the tartness of grapefruit.
To make it a perfect bourbon Paloma, all we’re doing is swapping out the tequila for bourbon. Today I’m using Old Forester Rye Whisky which is not a bourbon but I find you can swap these out for similar flavor profiles. But any bourbon or whiskey can work for this, just use what you have!
- 2 oz of Old Forester Rye Whisky – or any favorite bourbon or whiskey works here!
- 2 oz of fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
- 1/2 oz of lime juice
- 1 tsp of sugar
- Splash of club soda
Before you make your cocktail, you’ll want to do your salted rim. It’s so easy to forget this little step, but it makes such a difference. Just rub a little lime or grapefruit juice on the side or rim, and press it into coarse salt. Then fill your glass with ice and move on to step two of making the cocktail.
Place all your ingredients except the soda into your glass. Stir with a drink stirrer or your straw. Then top with a little clud soda or sparkling water.
Garnish with a fresh wedge of lime and or grapefruit. I really like the big grapefruit slice in the glass to make it look really fun and interesting. Just push it down in there before you make the cocktail.
Tips For Making The Perfect Bourbon Paloma
Use Fresh Squeezed Juices
Fresh is always best and it really does make such a difference. Take the extra minute or two to freshly squeeze your limes and fresh grapefruit.
Rim The Glass
You can not only rim the glass with classic salt, but you can make it a little spicy with some Tajin, or if you’re more of a sweet person, a mix of sugar works too.
Adjust Your Sweetness
This is all preference, but a traditional Paloma does use a grapefruit flavored soda that’s definitely more sweet than simply fresh squeezed juice and a little sugar with sparkling water. You can always adjust your sweetness level and up your sugar. Using a simple syrup too is easier as well if you have it. Just equal parts sugar and water heated up until dissolved then cooled.
Try Grapefruit Bitters
If you like bitters (I love them) adding a bit of grapefruit bitters can help balance this drink out as well. Bitters come in all sorts of flavors but the most classic and common are Angostora bitters. I wouldn’t suggest using these in this cocktail, but I do have grapefruit bitters in my liquor cabinet and it really is a nice addition to citrus cocktails as it adds a truly concentrated flavor of grapefruit to the cocktail.