The combination of tequila and grapefruit might conjure visions of ice-cold relief during a scorching Texas afternoon, but in addition to being a summertime favorite, the paloma makes an apt fall cocktail. For starters, the temperatures in a Texas autumn would pass for summer ones in other parts of the country. Then there’s the fact that tequila is delicious any time of year. But perhaps most important, Texas grapefruit season kicked off in October, making the citrus a perfect addition to autumnal menus.
The bar staff at Ellis Motel in Round Top shake up a spicy paloma using fresh grapefruit that grows in the Rio Grande Valley through winter. Unlike a traditional paloma, this recipe calls for mezcal (as well as tequila) for a slightly smoky take on the drink.
“It’s been a popular cocktail for us,” says Lee Ellis, the business’s owner. “The bar itself is a place for people to come and hang out, because there really wasn’t one in town—you know, the population is only eighty-seven.”
Sometimes sourcing grapefruit locally can be an issue, so Ellis makes the fifteen-mile drive to the nearest H-E-B, in La Grange, to stock up once or twice a week.
He and his team also bottle and sell the Spicy Paloma mixer so locals can make their own cocktails at home.
This story originally published online on November 8, 2022. An abbreviated version of it appeared in the January 2023 issue of Texas Monthly. Subscribe today.
- 1 cocktail shaker
- 1 fresh jalapeño pepper, sliced
- 1 ounce blanco tequila
- 1 ounce mezcal
- 1½ ounces fresh grapefruit juice
- ¼ ounce fresh lime juice
- ½ ounce simple syrup
- sparkling mineral water
- lime wheel
- In a shaker, muddle two slices of fresh jalapeño. Add ice, tequila, mezcal, grapefruit and lime juices, and simple syrup to the shaker. Shake well. Strain into a glass with ice and a Tajín rim. Top with sparkling mineral water. Garnish with a fresh jalapeño slice and a lime wheel.