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Virgin Paloma Mocktail

As you know, the classic Paloma is a tequila-based cocktail featuring fresh grapefruit juice, lime juice and club soda for a refreshing fizz but what do you do if you're going zero proof? Cactus juice is the way! In addition to melding beautifully with the bitterness of the grapefruit and the bright tartness of the lime, it is an excellent substitution for tequila. Cactus juice has a full-bodied earthy flavor with fruity notes accompanied by an undeniable freshness that makes it suitable for light, bright beverages like this one. In this mocktail, all that goodness is balanced with a little superfine sugar for sweetness without the grainy texture. As for the half salted rim, it is a must. That touch of salt makes the sweet and sour flavors of this Paloma pop plus it keeps the bitter notes in check for a zero-proof cocktail you won't soon forget.

Total Time: 10 minutes


Serves 1

  • Grapefruit wedge

  • Kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar

  • ¼ cup fresh grapefruit juice (or Jarritos if you can find it)

  • Juice of half a lime

  • Ice

  • ¼ cup all-natural cactus juice (don't stress if you can't locate this)

  • ¼ cup club soda

  • Optional: add a non-alcoholic tequila to include spice. We'd suggest this one.

Virgin Paloma Directions

  1. Run the grapefruit wedge along half the rim of a highball glass then dip in the kosher salt.

  2. Add the sugar to the glass with the grapefruit juice and lime juice. Stir.

  3. Add a few ice cubes to the glass followed by the cactus juice.

  4. Top with club soda and enjoy.

There are tons of great tequila inspired mocktails out there, from the tequila sunrise to the ever-popular margarita. 

For summertime though, we are personal fans of the Virgin Paloma cocktail (sometimes referred to as the "working man's drink"). If you do decide to whip up a non-alcoholic version for friends, here's some background on the Paloma to further impress them.

The Paloma Cocktail: The Basics

The basic Paloma cocktail recipe combines tequila with fresh lime juice and a grapefruit-flavored soda (Jarritos is a popular option). In the U.S., bartenders will sometimes make it with Sprite or another lemon-lime soda instead. Either way, this drink is usually served on the rocks with fresh lime as a garnish.

The History of the Paloma Cocktail (before the virgin)

The Paloma cocktail's history is a bit obscure, and there's a lot of debate over how it came to be. In general, though, most folks believe it to have been created by Don Javier Delgado Corona, who owned La Capilla Bar in Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico. Corona has also been credited for the creation of another popular tequila cocktail, the Batanga (which combines tequila, lime juice, and Coca Cola).

As for the introduction of the Paloma cocktail in the United States, credit often goes to the bartender Evan Harrison, who is said to have created the pamphlet "Popular Cocktails of the Rio Grande" back in the 1950s. There's a lot of debate over the accuracy of this somewhat dubious claim, though, as no one has yet found proof that Harrison actually published this document.

Try the Paloma Cocktail Today

If your mind is made up, and you'll be serving a virgin paloma, consider picking up a bottle of non-alcoholic tequila. We've secured a few from the folks at Ritual Zero Proof, and we earn a few dollars for every bottle we sell to keep this site going. You can pick one up here.