This Spicy Mezcal Paloma Will Heat Up Your Summer

It’s worth a shot.

By Michelle Nash

Sipping straight mezcal on a Tuesday with my boss was one of my more unconventional workdays. But, as is true for many shifts in routine, it sparked some creativity and inspired the makings of this spicy mezcal Paloma recipe.

On our recent team trip to Oaxaca, we spent three days soaking up the city’s vibrant art, food, and culture. Of course, a mezcal tasting was warranted given that Oaxaca is home to this smoky spirit. The experience left me itching to infuse more mezcal moments into my cocktails this summer. Enter: this spicy mezcal Paloma recipe.

I’ll start by confessing that this recipe is breaking a cardinal rule of mezcal drinking. We learned that mezcal is meant to be sipped straight instead of mixed into cocktails. But if you’re like me, you might need a little fresh juice and soda to help you ease into your mezcal journey. Plus, it’s hard to turn down a classic, thirst-quenching Paloma. So let’s get to it.

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Spicy Mezcal Paloma Recipe:

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Why You’ll Love This Mezcal Paloma Recipe

A traditional Mexican Paloma is made with tequila blanco and grapefruit soda. This version is a riff on the classic, using a mix of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, lime juice, and sparkling water.

Mezcal has been produced in Mexico for centuries, and believe it or not, tequila is actually a type of mezcal. Both tequila and mezcal come from agave plants, but the types of agaves and production methods differ for each spirit. Mezcal production is deeply rooted in tradition and begins by being cooked in the ground in natural ovens. It’s later distilled in copper pots, giving it that distinct, smoky flavor. However, the more authentic the mezcal, the less smoky it tastes.

This recipe also calls for blanco tequila in addition to the mezcal to balance the flavors and round out the drink. Lastly, I’ve found that using honey balances out the cocktail’s other, stronger flavors. And don’t forget your sliced jalapeño and chili salt for that extra kick! The resulting sip is a beautiful blend of tangy, smoky, and salty with just enough sweetness.


Mezcal Paloma Ingredients and Substitutions

Here’s everything you need to mix up this cocktail in less than five minutes:

  • A good tequila blanco. I prefer LALO.
  • Your favorite mezcal. I’m a fan of Madre.
  • A few limes. Fresh-squeezed lime juice makes all the difference.
  • Grapefruit. You can opt for store-bought grapefruit juice, but the drink will taste the most fresh if you juice the grapefruit yourself. And if you opt for the store-bought route, just be sure to use a bottle without added sugar.
  • Honey. For a dash of sweetness.
  • Sparkling water. It’ll give your Paloma that extra fizz. I love Topo chico but club soda works as well.
  • Jalapeño. A little goes a long way!
  • Chili salt. You can buy store-bought chili salt or make your own. (Instructions below!)
  • Garnishes. I’ve used fresh herbs like rosemary, lime, grapefruit wedges, and even sliced cucumber.
Spicy mezcal paloma

How to Make This Mezcal Paloma Recipe

This cocktail couldn’t be any easier, and I love that it’s simple enough to make large pitchers so guests can mix up their drinks as they please.

To make the Tajín rim, mix equal parts pink Himalayan salt and Tajín in a small bowl. Spread the mixture in a thin layer evenly across a plate. Wet the rim of a cocktail glass with a lime wedge, then dip the cocktail glass upside down into the chili salt mixture to line the rim.

To a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add tequila, mezcal, lime juice, grapefruit juice, a jalapeño slice, and honey. Strain into an ice-filled glass and add a splash of sparkling water of your choice on top. Add your preferred garnishes.

Spicy mezcal paloma recipe.

What to Serve With This Mezcal Paloma

These mezcal Palomas have been a crowd-pleaser at my house this summer. Mix up a batch and enjoy your cocktails alongside sheet pan chicken fajitas, tostadas, or one of our best taco recipes of all time. For summer gatherings, I love to double (or triple!) the recipe and prepare it in a big pitcher for friends to pour over ice when they’re ready for a cocktail.

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Spicy Mezcal Paloma

  • Author: Michelle Nash


This mezcal paloma is tart, smoky, spicy, and a little bit sweet.


Units Scale
  • 1 oz blanco tequila (I like LALO)
  • 1 oz mezcal (I like Madre mezcal)
  • 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
  • 2 oz fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz honey
  • 1 oz sparkling water (I like Topo Chico)
  • sliced jalapeño
  • chili salt: mix pink Himalayan salt and Tajín seasoning together in a small bowl
  • garnish with a grapefruit wedge and a handful of rosemary sprigs


  1. Mix equal parts pink Himalayan salt and Tajín in a small bowl. Transfer to a plate and spread across the plate evenly. Wet the rim of a cocktail glass with a lime wedge, then dip the cocktail glass upside down into the chili salt mixture to line the rim.
  2. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add tequila, mezcal, lime juice, grapefruit juice, a jalapeño slice, and honey.
  3. Strain into an ice-filled glass and add a splash of Topo Chico on top.
  4. Garnish with a grapefruit wedge and a rosemary sprig.

Comments (6)

  1. Molly says:

    I knew I would make this from the newsletter title. It is all my favorite ingredients (remember fresca?) Make this!

  2. Chelsea says:

    Just the right amount of smoke & spice, and delicious!

  3. Eve Bates says:

    Very tasty! It’s a bit more tart than I usually go for, but I found that refreshing. I didn’t have fresh rosemary for the garnish, and just from the recipe I didn’t understand adding that flavor, but it made sense once I tasted the drink.

  4. Samantha says:

    Delicious! So refreshing and just the right amount of spiciness!!

  5. Jennifer says:

    Fresh, subtly sweet, fizzy and bright. The rosemary sprig, jalapeño and grapefruit wedge on top added to the beautiful color of this cocktail.

  6. Adrienne says:

    So refreshing and delicious! I was lucky to have a pomelo on hand and it was perfect for that mix of tart and sweet and the added spice is great! Perfect summer drink!

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