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Remix: a fresh take on the Paloma cocktail 

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JESSICA BRYCE YOUNG
  • PHOTO BY JESSICA BRYCE YOUNG

Cinco de Mayo means cocktail columns don’t have a choice: If it’s May, the recipe has to be tequila. Last year’s grilled-pineapple margarita was, if I may say so, a great drink, but this one’s a bit less labor-intensive. (If you’re grilling on Sunday, though, give it a try.) This year, we’re diverging from the margarita path.

The Paloma (Spanish for “dove”) is hardly a cocktail, just one of those utilitarian mixed drinks; every country has a beloved classic that doesn’t inspire the same devotion in outlanders – Spain’s kalimotxo (red wine and Coke), France’s Kir, our own Jack and ginger – here we have a Mexican mix of grapefruit soda and tequila, sometimes served in a salt-rimmed glass. Like all these drinks, it’s easy to drink and cheap to make (also, easy to make and cheap to drink).

But this is a Remix, so we’ll fancy it up a little. First (and most important), your tequila should be 100 percent agave. You can go with a less-expensive blanco – I used Avión Silver – if you don’t want to spring for longer-aged añejo. Next, the sweet citrusy fizz: Instead of grapefruit soda, I mixed a citrus syrup with sparkling wine. No need for French champagne in a mixed drink; just use prosecco or cava (something inexpensive but dry). I made a Key lime simple syrup, mostly because I already had Key lime juice in the fridge; you could make a grapefruit syrup, but only if you promise to use fresh-squeezed juice. (Bottled grapefruit juice is a horror.) As a last touch, I mixed kosher salt and unrefined sugar and dipped the rim of the glass.

The Remixed Paloma is a tart, refreshing, salty-sweet cocktail, more refined and more alcoholic than the original but just as easy to make and drink. Take it easy or (apologies to Prince) you’ll find out what it sounds like when doves cry.

CLASSIC

2 ounces tequila
juice of half a lime
1 bottle grapefruit soda *

Fill a tall glass with ice. Pour in the tequila and lime juice, then top with soda.

* Note: Jarritos Toronja is the typical choice, but Ting, Squirt or Fresca are all decent alternatives.

REMIXED

1 ounce tequila
1/2 ounce Key lime or grapefruit simple syrup *
prosecco or cava, very dry
kosher salt
large-grain cane sugar (like Florida Crystals)

Mix the salt and sugar in a saucer. Rub the rim of a champagne flute with a lime wedge, then dip into the salt mixture.

Being careful not to disturb the crystals on the rim of the glass, pour in the tequila and citrus syrup, swirl to mix, then top off with cava.

* Note: Combine equal parts fruit juice and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a low boil, simmer for five minutes, then set aside to cool. This recipe calls for only a half-ounce, but to closer approximate the sweetness of a Jarritos soda, use equal parts syrup and tequila.

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