Spicy Grapefruit Paloma

4.67 stars average

This traditional Mexican cocktail made with fresh grapefruit juice and tequila is given a spicy kick from a chili-infused simple syrup. 

Prep Time10 minutes
Total Time10 minutes

Grapefruit paloma cocktail

This traditional Mexican cocktail made with fresh grapefruit juice and tequila is given a spicy kick from a chili-infused simple syrup. 

Enjoy a spicy grapefruit Paloma cocktail.

I am always looking for easy cocktail recipes for entertaining. Whether I’m hosting or joining friends or family for a holiday, I truly enjoy whipping up a pitcher of spicy grapefruit Palomas. A Paloma is a Mexican cocktail made with tequila and grapefruit juice or soda.

Palomas are a great option during the fall and winter holiday season because it’s made with winter citrus fruits which are ripe and affordable that time of year.

Grapefruit paloma cocktail

How To Make Spicy Grapefruit Palomas

Typically made with grapefruit soda such as Fresca or Jarritos, I decided to come up with a healthier version. Instead of using store-bought soda I combined fresh grapefruit and lime juice with a chili-infused simple syrup.

Liz cutting fresno chili

Begin by making your spicy, chili-infused simple syrup. Thinly slice your Fresno chili while your sugar and water come to a boil.

Chilis infusing in a simple syrup.

After your sugar has fully dissolved, you can add you chili slices and let them infuse until the syrup has fully cooled.

Straining the chilis in a strainer

Once your simple syrup has cooled, strain the liquid from the chilis. If you’ll be making cocktails immediately, set it aside. Otherwise, you can store it in your fridge for up to five days until you’re ready for it.

Liz cutting a grapefruit

When you’re ready to prepare your Palomas, begin by cutting your grapefruit and limes in preparation for juicing.

Juicing a grapefruit

When juicing any large citrus, I find that using a small fork or spoon while squeezing it helps to get as much juice as possible. I used 2 large grapefruits to get the juice needed for this drink.

Liz pouring grapefruit juice
Liz juicing a lime

Next you’ll begin to mix the cocktail! Add your fresh grapefruit and lime juice to a large pitcher.

Pouring simple syrup into pitcher

Followed by your cooled, chili-infused, simple syrup and tequila. Make sure to stir it well.

Sugar salt rimmed glass

To bring all the flavors together, I like to rim the glass with a combination of coarse Kosher salt and sugar. Run a lime wedge around your glass rim before dipping and coating it in the sugar salt.

Pouring grapefruit paloma

Once your glasses are prepared with the sugar salted rim, fill with ice and the Paloma mixture to about 3/4 full.

Liz pouring club soda

Top off your Paloma with club soda to the rim, or to mix things up, use a different flavored La Croix or other flavored sparkling water. If you’re feeling fancy, finish your cocktail with a garnish of freshly sliced fruit.

Adding garnish to paloma

Frequently Asked Questions:

How spicy are these palomas?

I make my chili-infused simple syrup pretty spicy because that’s how I like it. Feel free to adjust, by removing the seeds and pith, or omit altogether.

What’s an alternative to chilis to add some spice?

Ginger is a great option if you don’t have chilis on hand.

What if I don’t have any tequila?

You can easily substitute gin or vodka.

Are there other cocktails you would recommend?

Recommended Recipes with a Paloma

Need something tasty to eat while sipping on your Paloma? These recipes all pair great with the spicy kick of the cocktail.

Liz enjoying a grapefruit Paloma

The subtle sweetness from the grapefruit juice, tartness from the lime juice, and spicy-sweet simple syrup create the ultimate, well-balanced cocktail.

Your straw is waiting.

Grapefruit paloma cocktail

Spicy Grapefruit Paloma

4.67 stars average
This traditional Mexican cocktail made with fresh grapefruit juice and tequila is given a spicy kick from a chili-infused simple syrup. 
PREP: 10 minutes
TOTAL: 10 minutes
Servings: 4 cocktails

Recipe Video


  • 8 ounces tequila
  • 1 cup fresh pink grapefruit juice (roughly two juiced)
  • ¼ cup lime juice (roughly one juiced)
  • 12 ounces club soda
  • additional lime and grapefruit slices (optional garnish)

Chili-Infused Simple Syrup

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 fresno chili (thinly sliced)

Sugar Salt Rim


  • Start by preparing the Chili-Infused Simple Syrup. Place the sugar and water in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Add chili slices and remove from heat. Let chilis steep in simple syrup until syrup is cooled. Drain, then refrigerate for up to 5 days. Note: If you need the syrup sooner, place in the freezer to quickly bring down the temp before draining the chilis. 
  • When you're ready to make the cocktail, place the tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and chili-infused simple syrup in a large pitcher and stir well. Place the sugar and salt for the rub on a small plate and mix with a fork to combine. Run a lime wedge along the rim of each glass then carefully dip the glasses into the sugar-salt rub until coated.
  • Fill the cocktail glasses with ice and pour mixture until 3/4 full. Top off each glass with club soda and fruit garnish to serve. 


To make mild, remove the pith and seeds from the chili pepper. Otherwise, to keep spicy, follow recipe as is, using sliced chilis whole with the seeds and pith.


Serving: 1glassCalories: 228kcalCarbohydrates: 23gProtein: 0.6gFat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 1mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 12.9g

Check out more of my drink recipes on my Pinterest board!

10 thoughts on “Spicy Grapefruit Paloma”

  1. Wow, this is great! I’ll admit – I didn’t make the pepper syrup because I am adverse to spice! (Though my boyfriend said I might need to make it the spicy way for him one day, LOL.) As far as a solid Paloma recipe, I’m SO happy with this. I’ll definitely be keeping it in rotation.

    Just a note: While looking up this recipe, I came across another recipe that I’ll paste the link to below. It looks like this person switched up an ingredient and added some hard seltzer, but took your text for the recipe and its steps word for word almost entirely. As a fellow recipe developer, I just like to stand up for other folks’ work and its integrity. It would have been nice if this person at least linked to your site for credit. Much love to the work YOU’VE done on this site! <3


    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! People find inspiration for recipes all over- I’m honored someone was inspired by my recipe! Thanks again and I’m glad you enjoyed this cocktail!

  2. Are you supposed to remove the pith and seeds from the pepper before steeping it in the simple syrup? I did this and it didn’t taste spicy at all. Please be clear on this point.

    Also, used a Jalapeño pepper because Fresno peppers are impossible to find around here.

    Otherwise, great drink idea. You should do a video for clarity

    1. Hi Ben! Removing the seeds and pitch removes all of the heat as they live in the pith + seeds. Great idea to make that more clear in this blog post – we will do that! Jalapeno peppers are one of the most mild peppers out there as well so try to find serrano or habanero or Fresno if you can. I find them at Hispanic markets a lot!

  3. I’d love to see the units in metrics as well.

    I made this and added ginger to the syrup as well because… ginger has a deeper and gentle kick that goes well with the chili heat. Making a double syrup helps if I want to keep using it over a week or more.

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