(Note: this post was originally published on August 27, 2020. It has since been updated with a few tweaks.)
A Blueberry Ginger Cocktail for Late Summer
Palomas are one of my favorite cocktails and I'm excited to introduce you to the paloma variation I make most frequently. This surprising blueberry ginger cocktail is one that can transcend seasons and has such fun, interesting flavors and colors.
If you're not familiar with the paloma, it's a tequila cocktail made with grapefruit juice (or sometimes grapefruit soda). Being a huge grapefruit fan myself, I absolutely love the balance between sweet, tart, and bitter flavors in a paloma.
This Blueberry Ginger Paloma is a unique twist on the classic. The tart grapefruit is complemented by sweet blueberries and spicy ginger beer, yielding a delightful and complex combination. The blueberries are summery while the ginger is cozy, so this is definitely a drink you can make year-round. I think this blueberry paloma excels most during late summer though, when berries are still in season but the days are starting to get shorter.
What Is a Paloma?
The paloma is a well-known cocktail involving tequila and grapefruit; it's a cousin of the margarita. I love palomas because they're refreshing, well-balanced, quick to shake up, and can be made with no added sugar because grapefruit is sweeter than lime. They're also easy to vary seasonally since grapefruit can pair beautifully with such a wide variety of flavors. You'll find several palomas on this blog including my Coconut Paloma and my Cinnamon Cherry Paloma.
How to Make a Paloma
Good news: the paloma is a very simple drink to make. Just mix up the few ingredients (tequila, grapefruit, any other flavors you want to add) and enjoy. The grapefruit element of a paloma is interpreted differently by different people; while some mixologists prefer grapefruit soda, I much prefer fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice. Using juice (instead of soda) is more flavorful, fresher, and allows you to avoid the added sugar that soda generally has. This colorful blueberry paloma recipe has just a few simple ingredients: muddled blueberries, grapefruit juice, tequila, lime juice, and ginger beer to top it off.
Blueberry Paloma Variations
This is a great cocktail for entertaining since it's easily customized to suit different tastes. Feel free to make a half-strength version or even a mocktail version; it works great since there are so many other vibrant flavors. You can also add some additional agave for people who like sweeter drinks, use cherries instead of blueberries, or try soda water instead of ginger beer.
Another reason why I love to make this Blueberry Ginger Paloma for a crowd? Although store-bought lime juice is generally awful, store-bought grapefruit juice is pretty good. So if you'll be making a lot of these, take a shortcut and buy a bottle of unsweetened, one-ingredient grapefruit juice at the store; it will make this cocktail a breeze to prepare.
One of the things I enjoy most about this blueberry ginger cocktail is its appearance; it has the most beautiful light purple color. It's also interactive! If you garnish the top of the drink with frozen blueberries, they actually color the drink increasingly dark as they thaw, meaning that it starts off more pink (see the photo directly above) and ends up more purple (see the photo directly below).
You have some options to tweak the hue of this blueberry paloma. If you want a more colorful drink, opt for frozen blueberries rather than fresh; the freezing process concentrates the colorful juice, yielding that beautiful pink/purple shade. Fresh blueberries only yield a very subtle peachy/pink color, although they make for a prettier garnish than frozen. My secret: use frozen blueberries to create the drink initially and to float within the drink, then garnish with some fresh blueberries for the best of both worlds.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Here's what you'll need for this blueberry ginger cocktail, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
Frozen blueberries. Freezing the berries first concentrates their flavor and color, so they work much better in this blueberry paloma than fresh berries.
Grapefruit juice. Fresh-squeezed is better and is my recommendation if you're just making a few drinks. However, store bought juice (make sure it's just one ingredient: grapefruit juice) is a great shortcut for a party.
Blanco tequila. I prefer blanco (minimally-aged) tequila in this Blueberry Ginger Paloma so that it doesn't interfere with the color of the drink.
Lime juice. Fresh-squeezed is a must! I love the tartness this adds, but it's not strictly necessary. You can omit it if you're looking for a shortcut.
Agave. Optional; you can add this for people who prefer a sweeter drink. Keep in mind that the ginger beer will have some sweetness too.
Ginger beer. Opt for one with less sugar; we love Fever Tree's "Refreshingly Light".
Fresh and/or frozen blueberries for garnish. Use frozen if you want them to release their purple color into the drink, use fresh for a prettier finish, or (best of all!) use both.
If you've never had a paloma before, you're in for a treat. It's really a delightful cocktail, and adding in blueberries and ginger makes it even more wonderful. The balance in this drink of bitter grapefruit, sweet blueberries, tart lime, and cozy ginger beer is lovely and surprisingly versatile. Plus the color of this blueberry paloma is just so special.
I've joked (but somewhat seriously) that I should make a "paloma of the month" calendar. In my dream calendar, I think this would be the August paloma. This blueberry ginger cocktail just feels so perfect for the very end of summer, when summer and fall flavors are meeting. I can't wait for you to try this Blueberry Ginger Paloma, it's a favorite in our house!
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.