The Real Difference Between A Paloma And A Margarita

If you're a fan of a tangy tequila cocktail, chances are the margarita is your go-to when you belly up to the bar. And you're in good company – Drinks International listed the margarita as one of the top ten Best-Selling Classic Cocktails in 2020.

But next time happy hour comes around (or whenever the mood strikes) why not try a paloma instead? As The Takeout explains, both margaritas and palomas contain the distinctively-flavored agave spirit mixed with lime and salt, which can create the perfect drink to pair with Mexican cuisine or enjoy in the sunshine (as long as you're careful not to spill). Past those base ingredients, however, there are some important differences that distinguish the two boozy treats from one another.

A paloma is much more than just a margarita in a grapefruit-flavored disguise. The Tales of the Cocktail Foundation emphasizes that a classic paloma should be served on the rocks, whereas margaritas are frequently ordered frozen. In fact, the foundation states that the margarita's massive popularity seems due in part to the invention and distribution of the frozen margarita machine in the '70s, which led to faster service and higher profit margins.

A paloma can be better for you

A push toward simple, fresh-tasting ingredients may be part of the reason the paloma is in the spotlight lately. In contrast to the often pre-mixed margarita, a paloma can be concocted with effervescent and less sugary grapefruit soda or even fresh juice (via The Takeout). Insider suggests that this lighter choice is ideal for those who want to enjoy themselves but are conscious of calorie consumption, or are simply trying to avoid all that processed sugar.

Of course, if you're at home and feeling experimental, consider whipping up one or two of the many tasty paloma variations out there that will have your taste buds jumping for joy. As mentioned above, The Takeout suggests trying grapefruit juice and soda water in place of Squirt or Jarritos, and using bitters or fancy bourbon barrel-smoked sea salt. Supercall adds fresh mint and muddled jalapeño for a spicy kick, and Fine Cooking brightens things up with a little splash of cranberry-cherry juice.