Grilled Grapefruit Paloma

Make this smoky tequila cocktail for your next barbecue.

Two Salt Rimmed Glasses of Grilled Grapefruit Paloma With Two Grilled Grapefruit Slices on the Rim of the Glass, and in the Surroundings, a Pink and White Kitchen Towel and a Small Plate With More Slices

Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

It’s impossible to deny the appeal of a paloma. The popular cocktail only requires a few ingredients and is incredibly refreshing. And while you can make an excellent paloma the usual way with tequila, lime, and grapefruit soda, you can also play with the formula a bit.

That’s what I did with this grilled grapefruit paloma. In honor of grilling season, in which I will take any excuse to go outside and fire up the grill, I’ve made a cocktail that is truly extra while remaining approachable and fun to make. No need for time-consuming infusions, specialty simple syrups, or hard-to-find ingredients. You just need a couple of grapefruits, a hot grill, and a few cocktail cart staples to make a grilled grapefruit paloma.

This recipe takes the classic paloma into fresher, smokier, slightly more complex territory. The combination of charred grapefruit and reposado tequila is undeniable. Since the grapefruits only take a few minutes to char, it’s the perfect drink to mix up as your guests arrive, or after you’ve already cooked your meal but the grill is still hot.

Clun Soda Poured Into a Salt Rimmed Glass of Grapefruit Paloma, and in the Surroundings, Another Glass of Paloma, a Cream Pitcher, and a Small Plate With Grilled Grapefruit Slices

Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

How to Grill Grapefruit

The key to successfully grilling grapefruit is a hot grill and clean grates. I like to oil my grill grates as an extra precaution, and if you use a neutral oil, it doesn’t affect the taste of the fruit. Since we’re adding sugar to the halved grapefruit before grilling them cut-side down, they only take a few minutes to char. Remove them as soon as you have grill marks, before the sugar burns.

Grilling grapefruit adds a caramelized flavor that pairs nicely with the acidity of the fruit. It also coaxes out the juice. While grilled grapefruit is great for cocktails, it’s also fun for brunch. Serve as a side dish for eggs and potatoes along with grilled peaches.

For the Best Grilled Paloma

For the best possible flavor, use a charcoal grill. It adds more grilled, smoky flavor than a gas grill. 

Simple Tip!

A gas grill will still produce tasty results—especially if you add a wood chip packet. Soak a cup or 2 of wood chips for 1 hour, drain, then wrap in 1 to 2 layers of foil. Pierce the packet a few times and set it under the grates on the cooler side of the grill before preheating. Once it's smoking, grill the grapefruit.

For even more smokiness, turn your kettle grill in to a smoker. Use a simplified version of Hank Shaw’s techniques, soaking wood chips for a couple of hours before setting up the grill. This method involves low heat and time rather than high heat and just a few minutes on the grates. If you have the time, you’ll be rewarded with amazing flavor. 

Start checking the grapefruit halves after half an hour—you just want them to take on lots of smoky flavor, not cook through. You can easily smoke the grapefruit while cooking something else like, say, a rack of ribs.

Two Smoked Salt Rimmed Glasses of Grilled Grapefruit Paloma With Two Slices of Grilled Grapefruit on the Glass Rim Next to More Slices of Grilled Grapefruit on a Small Tray, and in the Surroundings, a Bottle of Club Soda, Another Glass of Paloma, and a Pink and White Kitchen Towel

Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

Make It Extra Smoky

I call for an optional smoked salt rim. A salt rim isn’t required on a paloma, but I love the combination of salt and lime and I find this adds just the right hint of smokiness.

If you’d like to up the smoke factor, you have a couple of options (in addition to turning your grill into a makeshift smoker). The simplest is to swap the tequila for your favorite smoky mezcal. If you can plan ahead and want to go above and beyond for a memorable cocktail experience, follow Mike Lang’s instructions for making smoked ice (no smoker required!).

The Best Tequila for This Paloma

You can make a paloma with any kind of tequila, but blanco is the most traditional. I like to use a light reposado instead since it plays nicely with the smoky, caramelized flavors from the grill. Espolòn is a good, affordable option.

If you’d prefer a milder flavor, use your favorite blanco tequila instead.

Make It Ahead

Most of the recipe can be prepped up to a day ahead of time. Grill the grapefruits, let them cool, and then juice them. Combine all of the ingredients except for the club soda, ice, and salt garnish. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.

You can also prep the glasses before you start grilling—just don’t add the ice until you’re ready to serve.

Two Salt Rimmed Glasses of Grilled Grapefruit Paloma With Two Grilled Grapefruit Slices on the Glass Rim Next to More Slices of Grilled Grapefruit on a Small Tray, and in the Surroundings, a Bottle of Club Soda and a Cream Pitcher

Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

Tequila Cocktails for All Occasions

Grilled Grapefruit Paloma

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 4 mins
Cooling Time 10 mins
Total Time 24 mins
Servings 4 servings
Yield 4 palomas

This recipe makes 4 drinks, but you can halve it to make 2 (using 1 halved grapefruit) or you can double it to make a pitcher that serves 8.

Ingredients

  • Canola or vegetable oil, for the grill grates

  • 2 medium ruby red grapefruits, sliced in half

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 2 medium limes

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) reposado tequila

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons agave

  • 1 teaspoon smoked salt, optional

  • Ice, for serving

  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups (8 to 12 ounces) club soda

Method

  1. Prepare the grill:

    Prepare the coals and preheat your charcoal grill to medium-high heat (about 400°F), ensuring the grates are clean. Once hot, moisten a clean, folded paper towel with oil and use tongs to grasp it. Lightly oil the grates with the paper towel.

    Oil Doused Paper Towel Held Using a Pair of Tongs Used to Oil the Grill Grates

    Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

  2. Grill the grapefruit:

    Once the grill is almost done preheating, sprinkle each cut side of the grapefruit with 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.

    Add the grapefruit to the grill, cut side down, and grill until the fruit is juicy and the sugar has caramelized, about 4 minutes. Remove from the grill to a plate and set in the fridge to cool.

    Sugar Pinched Onto Halved Grapefruit on a Wooden Cutting Board Next to a Small Saucer With More Sugar for Grilled Grapefruit Paloma

    Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

    Grapefruit Halves on the Grill, Cut Side Down for Grapefruit Paloma Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

    Grilled Grapefruit Paloma on a Platter Next to a Kitchen Towel on the Counter

    Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

  3. Begin mixing the drinks:

    Slice the limes in half and squeeze them until you get 1/4 cup (2 ounces) of juice. Reserve the lime half with the most juice left.

    Add the squeezed lime juice to a small pitcher, followed by the tequila and agave. Stir until the agave dissolves.

    Halved Lime Pressed Into a Tabletop Citrus Juicer, and in the Surroundings, More Halved Limes With One Already Juiced and a Tray of Grilled Grapefruit

    Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

    Lime Juice in a Measuring Cup, and in the Surroundings, a Used Lime Half, a Tabletop Juicer, a Tray of Grilled Grapefruit, and a Vodka Bottle Top

    Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

    Lime-Vodka-Agave Mixed Together Using a Wooden Spoon in a Pitcher, and in the Surroundings, a Tabletop Juicer, a Tray of Grilled Grapefruit, and a Kitchen Towel

    Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

  4. Prepare the glasses:

    Add the smoked salt to a small plate or shallow bowl. Use the reserved squeezed lime half to moisten one edge of 4 high-ball or similar glasses.

    Dip each moistened rim in the smoked salt. Fill each glass 2/3 full with ice.

    A Lime Half Rubbed Against a Glass Rim, and in the Surroundings, More Glasses, a Small Saucer of Smoked Salt, a Tray of Grilled Grapefruit, and a Pitcher With Lime-Vodka-Agave Mixture

    Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

    Glass Rim Dipped Into the Smoked Salt for Grilled Grapefruit Paloma Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

  5. Juice the grapefruit:

    Juice 3 halves of grapefruit (reserving 1 half) until you get 1 cup of juice. Add to the pitcher and stir. Slice the remaining grilled grapefruit half into slices or wedges for garnish.

    Taste the mixture and adjust as needed, remembering that you’ll be adding club soda and ice, which will mellow the citrus and tequila quite a bit.

    Grilled Grapefruit Juiced Using the Tabletop Juicer for Smoked Citrus Paloma Recipe

    Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

    Grapefruit Half Cut Into Slices on a Cutting Board

    Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

  6. Assemble the drinks:

    Divide the mixture evenly between the glasses and top each with 1/4 cup (2 ounces) of club soda, or to taste. Garnish with a piece of grapefruit and serve immediately.

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    Grilled Grapefruit Paloma Poured Into a Salt Rimmed Glass With Ice, and in the Surroundings, Two More Salt Rimmed Glasses and a Cutting Board With Grapefruit Slices

    Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

    Salt Rimmed Glass of Grilled Grapefruit Paloma Topped With Club Soda Next to Another Glass and a Cutting Board With Sliced Grapefruit

    Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
331 Calories
4g Fat
45g Carbs
3g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 331
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 4mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 45g 16%
Dietary Fiber 6g 22%
Total Sugars 29g
Protein 3g
Vitamin C 113mg 563%
Calcium 89mg 7%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 490mg 10%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.