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The Paloma Is the Ultimate Batched Cocktail

My daughter Ellie turned four in the first days of the pandemic, which meant we couldn’t exactly hold a party for her. (Some of her friends drove by our house in a car and waved, which was as sad as it sounds.) By the next year, however, the vaccine was on the way and people were a little more relaxed about getting together. We wanted to make up for a lost year, so we held a big bash in Prospect Park for her friends and their parents. It was at this exact moment that I stumbled upon the genius of the batched Paloma.

Years of throwing parties and get-togethers in and around my Brooklyn residence had taught me that just about everybody loves a crushable tequila cocktail, though I continued to ignore the evidence. For past parties, I had — egotistically and pretentiously — batched cocktails that I wanted to drink, my non-industry friends be damned. These were over-the-top tiki-ish drinks and baroque gin cocktails, and there were always guests who didn’t “do” that spirit or this mixer. In fact, at Ellie’s third birthday, a gin, cucumber, and jalapeño number I’d prepared was barely touched and I ultimately dumped it.

Meanwhile, I could never keep tequila on hand whenever I had it available. Guests constantly asked me to make them à la minute Margaritas or Palomas. The sessionability of the latter made me think it might be ideal as a batched cocktail at a day-time, unicorn-themed children’s birthday party.

The standard build of this classic long drink — the national drink of Mexico, no less — calls for a couple ounces of tequila and a little lime juice, topped with grapefruit soda. For what exactly to use as that final ingredient, debates often rage harder than any discussion over what tequila is most preferable (just about all work, even ones with — yes — additives).

There’s Fresca, created by the Coca-Cola company, and the most easily findable grapefruit soda in the U.S., though perhaps too mild in mixed drinks. The “artisan” mixer brands like Fever-Tree and Q Mixers now have grapefruit sodas, too, but none quite hit for me, and both are cost- prohibitive in party quantities. Likewise, Pepsi-owned Ting is delicious, though more apt with overproof Jamaican rum. Squirt or Jarritos are probably the best, most legitimate options, though both are so sugary they render the Paloma way too heavy on the stomach (and tooth enamel).

All evidence points to the fact soda simply does not work in a batched Paloma, and just about any “pitcher Paloma” recipe you’ll find online skips the fizzy stuff. Simple science dictates that, by the time the party guests have arrived, the carbonation will have dissipated. So I decided to go with strictly fruit juice for my first stab and, if that annoys you and you find it inauthentic, feel free to quit reading right here.

Like most people, I’m a firm advocate of using fresh juice in cocktails, but it’s not always practical or economical when making large batches. That’s fine, though, because there are increasingly higher-quality bottled juices on the market these days, like Santa Cruz Organic or Lakewood Organic. Both offer citrus products that are 100 percent pure juice, nothing else added. (For grapefruit, specifically, I find they all work flavor-wise — white, pink, ruby red — though I aesthetically prefer the drink to have a pink hue.) A few bottles will rapidly speed up your ability to batch a Paloma, and I like to add some agave syrup for more body and sweetness.

If there’s nothing more elegant than kicking off a dinner party with a punch in a handsome crystal bowl, the Paloma is by contrast a daytime drink, a working-person’s drink. It simply doesn’t jive with a punch bowl — it doesn’t need a punch bowl. And I certainly wasn’t going to lug a punch bowl to Prospect Park.

On the other hand, a pitcher is hardly a big enough quantity of cocktail for a good party with serious drinkers. That’s why I opted for and continue to use a 3-gallon Igloo water jug to house my Palomas — the same mustard yellow number with a firetruck red top that you see on construction sites or being dumped over the head of college football coaches after winning the Holiday Bowl. I’ve dubbed it “The Parents’ Paloma.”

Between a couple dozen Parents’, we went through all three gallons during the two-hour party. As things were winding down, a few even tilted the Igloo to get the dregs for a roadie.

At Ellie’s fifth birthday I laid out a stack of plastic cups and a huge bag of shitty, convenience-store ice, and supplied soda water if any one wanted to add some fizz to the drink. While I find most people are leery about serving themselves large-format drinks at cocktail parties — I couldn’t tell you how many times guests at my Christmas party have stared at my punch bowl full of eggnog with a look of “how exactly does this work?” — it was pretty explanatory with The Parents’ Paloma. Everyone knows how to dispense liquid from an Igloo and most people enjoy doing it. It’s easy, it’s fun, and no ladles are involved.

(Don’t worry, I put “Not for kids!” warning signs right next to the spigot.)

As my daughter and her friends played pin the tail on the unicorn and other party games, the adults served themselves Palomas, with very few opting to top with the soda water. The cocktail as is, over a lot of ice, is ideal — refreshing, tart, a little sweet, yet with just enough booze punching through. Between a couple dozen Parents’, we went through all three gallons during the two-hour party. As things were winding down, a few even tilted the Igloo to get the dregs for a roadie.

It was a resounding hit, and it’s what I’ve continued to serve at all outdoor gatherings over the last three years. Unfortunately, my daughter just turned 8 this month and now she’s too cool to have a party in Prospect Park; too cool to have a party with her friends’ parents lingering around. Now her parties are “drop-offs,” which means I now get all three gallons of The Parents’ Paloma to myself.

The Parents’ Paloma Recipe


200 ounces blanco tequila (8 bottles)
50 ounces lime juice
50 ounces grapefruit juice
50 ounces agave syrup


Combine all ingredients in a water jug.
Dispense over ice and top with soda water if preferred.

The article The Paloma Is the Ultimate Batched Cocktail appeared first on VinePair.

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