World Paloma Day is May 22nd. We recently featured a classic Paloma recipe for Cinco de Mayo, but you can take this popular and refreshing drink a step further—and give it a global spin.
Like all classic cocktails, the Paloma invites you to play with the recipe and customize it—perhaps create your signature Paloma.
Today’s inspiration is this Spicy Thai Paloma recipe, which brings a bit of heat to the cocktail (photo #1). It’s a natural extension for a cocktail from Mexico, where chiles infuse the cuisine.
The recipe uses chili tincture. What’s a tincture?
Tinctures are concentrated alcohol infusions used to season cocktails, similar to, but different than, bitters‡.
> The different types of chiles.
1. PREPARE the glass with half of a salt rim. Place coarse salt in a saucer, wet half of the rim of a Tom Collins (highball) glass with a lime wedge, and roll the rim in the salt. Brush off any salt that may have adhered to the other half of the rim.
2. COMBINE the first five ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and strain over fresh ice in the prepared glass.
3. TOP OFF with the grapefruit soda. Garnish with a kaffir leaf and a Thai chile—if you can find them—or default to a lime wedge or wheel.
This recipe uses navy strength gin, a higher-proof gin (at least 57% A.B.V., 114 proof, as opposed to the 80 proof of standard gin.
The name dates to the 18th century when the gin was stored on British Navy ships next to the gunpowder. If the gin spilled into the gunpowder, the damp gunpowder would still explode thanks to the higher proof of the gin.
If you don’t want to buy navy strength gin, you can use regular proof gin—but let the tincture sit for an extra week or two. You can also substitute vodka.
1. COMBINE the ingredients in a jar, seal tightly, and shake vigorously. Store at room temperature for 2 weeks.
2. SHAKE the jar often. Shaking every day is fine—then you’ll remember to do it! After 2 weeks…
3. STRAIN into another container and store at room temperature.
*Grapefruit soda brands: There are many brands from which to choose, including good brands like Fever Tree, Jarritos (the brand used in Mexico), Q Sparkling Grapefruit, San Pelligrino, Spindrift (no sugar added), Ting, Whole Foods Market Pink Grapefruit Sparkling Italian Soda; and as the default, Fresca.
†Alternative salt: While most of us have coarse sea salt or kosher salt, if you have smoked salt or another flavored salt that works with the Paloma cocktail flavors, (chile or citrus, e.g.), feel free to substitute it.
‡The difference between tinctures and bitters: Both infuse botanicals—plants or plant parts valued for their flavor, scent, medicinal or therapeutic properties—into alcohol. However, bitters are distinctively bitter. Tinctures can be herbal, spicy, sweet, etc., without any bitterness.