Combine tequila and mezcal and imbue your cocktail with a haze in this Smoky Paloma.
The two giants of Mexican spirits are going to be mixed together today: tequila and mezcal.
Though tequila is the more famous of the pair, more and more sippers are giving mezcal a chance and are pleasantly surprised by the results, comparing it fondly to Islay scotches, a whisky with its own smokiness. Today, the mezcal will be making a guest appearance in the Smoky Paloma, a cocktail that uses tequila as its base.
The Paloma could very well be the nation’s unofficial cocktail, though those of us north of the border might be more aware of the margarita. The Paloma is believed to have started showing up in Mexican bars in the mid–20th century. Some versions keep it simple, comprising only tequila and grapefruit juice, while others include lime juice and a sweetness in the form of simple syrup. To make the Smoky Paloma, we’re going to go one step further and work in an egg white for a frothy delight.
We’ve made numerous palomas on T&T—the Paloma Sour and Spicy Paloma, to name just two—but this is the only one that adds the smoke of the mezcal. Think of it as a handshake shared by the two spirits, proving that, when it comes to Mexican cocktails, you don’t have to choose between tequila and mezcal.
What is Tequila? Which Should I Use?
Tequila is a spirit (usually 80 proof) that is derived from the blue agave plant. It’s named after the Mexican town of Tequila, found in the Jalisco region which is legally the only area of the country where tequila may be produced. There are different types, ranging from Blanco (silver) to Extra Añejo (extra aged), with age distinguishing one type from another. I find there are either “dirty” tequilas—best consumed quickly in the form of a shot—and there are more refined tequilas, ones you sip slowly and let linger on your tongue. There are few mid-range tequilas. For this recipe, I recommend a blanco. It’s lighter and lets the smoky mezcal have its moment in the sun.
How Do You Make Simple Syrup?
Mix together equal parts granulated sugar and water over LOW heat until the sugar granules have all been dissolved. It will now resemble a syrup in terms of its consistency. That’s all there is to it! Many mixologists rely on simple syrup to sweeten their drinks without altering the consistency. You’ll also see it used in cocktails that require muddling, with the peels and other ingredients being muddled in the syrup. If you have an aversion towards white granulated sugar you can use brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, or agave.
- 1 oz. blanco tequila
- 1 oz. mezcal
- 1 oz. freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
- ½ oz. lime juice
- ¼ oz. simple syrup adjust to taste
- 1/2 oz. egg white
- 1 lime wheel (for garnish)
- ice cubes
- In a shaker, combine the tequila, mezcal, grapefruit juice, lime juice, simple syrup, and egg white.
- Without ice, shake the mixture for 10 seconds. This is known as a dry-shake.
- Add ice and shake once more until the mixture is chilled.
- Double-strain the cocktail into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice and garnish with a lime wheel.
Tips & Tricks to Making a Perfect Smoky Paloma
- Shake with ice for at least 30 seconds. Frost should appear on the sides of the shaker.
- To execute a double strain, empty the mix through the built-in strain of the shaker and through a fine mesh strain (as seen in the photo above).
- Use freshly squeezed grapefruit and lime juices. They will infuse your cocktail with a liveliness you won’t get from packaged juices. As well, the fresh stuff is healthier, with fewer sugars and unnatural ingredients.
- Chill your glass before use. A paloma tastes best when served at the proper temperature.
- Replace the simple syrup with agave nectar, given that tequila is derived from the agave plant.
Smoky Paloma Mocktail: Drop the tequila and replace the mezcal with a non-alcoholic mezcal alternative. To ensure the smoky flavor, consider rimming your glass with smoked sea salt.
Rosemary Paloma: Add a sprig of rosemary to the simple syrup.
Spicy Paloma: Bring the heat to your Paloma with hot sauce and a jalapeno pepper.
Blood-Orange Paloma: Blood-orange juice replaces grapefruit juice.
Paloma Sour: Pretty much the same as a Smoky Paloma but minus the mezcal.