Cinnamon Cherry Paloma

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(Note: this post was originally published on September 10, 2020. The date above reflects migration to the new platform.)

Between Summer and Fall

Do you ever get a bit confused about what sorts of food (and drink) to make this time of year? It's not summer anymore, but not quite fall either. I find myself making things that straddle ingredients and flavors of the two seasons, and this paloma is the perfect example.

In this September-appropriate version, juicy late summer cherries meet cozy cinnamon for a wonderfully interesting combination. The sweet, tart, slightly bitter grapefruit helps unite them. The combination reminds me of late-season cherry crisps and pies, which often have some warming spices in the mix.

There are two big flavor powerhouses in this drink. One is cinnamon simple syrup, which you can make easily at home. It's delightful and will keep in the fridge for a long time, so make a big batch and use it in everything from cocktails to oatmeal. The other big flavor comes from Luxardo cherry liqueur; while this drink will still work without it, it provides immense earthiness and deep, dark cherry flavor.

Cinnamon Cherry Paloma cocktail with grapefruit slices, cherries, and cinnamon sticks

What Is a Paloma?

In case you're unfamiliar, the paloma is a grapefruit and tequila cocktail. It's actually one of my favorite classic cocktails to use as a jumping off point for fun, interesting, and seasonal flavor variations. I think that's because grapefruit pairs beautifully with such a wide variety of ingredients. Some palomas use grapefruit soda, but I much prefer the tartness and acidity of fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice.

You may have realized that I've been in a bit of a paloma phase recently (well, actually for a long time, but I've now posted two in a row!). I did this Blueberry Ginger Paloma for my August cocktail, which is also a bit of a summer/fall combo. This Cinnamon Cherry Paloma is one more step toward fall.

A Layered Paloma?!?

While this isn't quite a layered cocktail, it's close. To make this beautiful color stratification, you'll muddle cherries and cinnamon simple syrup right in the bottom of your serving glass. Pour the tequila and grapefruit mixture over top (gently!) and you'll get the dark pink to light pink gradient that I love so much in this drink. (That said, if you're not into the layered look, just shake everything together).

Cinnamon Cherry Paloma cocktail with a tequila bottle

Making a Simple Syrup

This cocktail relies upon a simple syrup to get all that wonderful, cozy cinnamon flavor into a drinkable form. If you've never made a simple syrup before, don't let the fancy name intimidate you! It's actaully really easy to do at home, and a simple syrup keeps great in the fridge for weeks.

A simple syrup is just a 1:1 mixture of sugar and water, cooked down until it becomes thick and syrupy. It's a great way for capturing flavors that are difficult to get into a liquid form otherwise... for example, cinnamon! Because cinnamon is a solid, you can't readily add it to a cocktail; it won't dissolve (and just awkwardly floats on top, yuck). That's why the simple syrup is a very powerful tool in mixology!

The recipe below will walk you through making a cinnamon simple syrup, using whole cinnamon sticks. But this concept will work for just about anything you can dream up, so don't be afraid to experiment! Herbs, other warming spices, and edible flowers all yield wonderful simple syrups.

Cinnamon Cherry Paloma cocktail with a muddler and ingredients

Let's Talk Ingredients

Here's what you'll need for this 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.

  • Whole cinnamon sticks. This really won't work well with cinnamon powder, so make sure you get sticks.
  • Water
  • Granulated white sugar. Good old white sugar is really the only way to do a simple syrup.
  • Red cherries. Either fresh or frozen will work fine.
  • Blanco tequila. I much prefer blanco in palomas so that the tequila doesn't interfere with the color of the drink.
  • Luxardo cherry liqueur. I recommend this stuff so highly... please get yourself some, I promise you'll be smitten.
  • Cherry for garnish. I used a maraschino here, which I don't usually do! But this allows it to become a triple-cherry cocktail... fresh cherries + Luxardo cherry liqueur + maraschino cherry. I couldn't resit the temptation! That said, a regular fresh cherry is totally fine too.

Cinnamon Cherry Paloma cocktail with grapefruit slices, cherries, and cinnamon sticks

Closing Thoughts

Are you guys having fun with paloma variations?? I hope so! Let me know if you try any of my palomas or any of your own flavor combinations. I think they're so fun- I could easily come up with a seasonal one for every month of the year. Maybe I should do a Paloma of the Month calendar??

This is a cocktail that will work beautifully from late summer all the way through citrus season in the winter. The combination of fruit and spice makes it really versatile, and it could pair with anything from September BBQs to cozy winter fare. Cheers! This is the perfect drink for these September weekends that aren't quite summer but aren't yet fall either.

Cinnamon Cherry Paloma cocktail with grapefruit slices, cherries, and cinnamon sticks


Share It!

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.

Suggested Pairings

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Grilled Peach and Farro Salad

Raw Fall Salad with Lemon-Pistachio Dukkah

Fig, Bourbon, and Cinnamon Nicecream Cake

Cinnamon Cherry Paloma

Perfect for the intersection of summer and fall, this paloma riff features warming cinnamon and sweet cherries for a delightfully unexpected mix of flavors. Plus look at those stunning colors!

Author:
Lee

Ingredients

For the Cinnamon Simple Syrup

  • 6 whole cinnamon sticks
  • 1 c water
  • 1 c granulated white sugar

For the Cocktail

  • Small handful of red cherries, pitted and chopped
  • 0.5 oz cinnamon simple syrup
  • 2 oz blanco tequila
  • 0.25 oz Luxardo cherry liqueur
  • Additional cherry for garnish

Instructions

  1. To make the cinnamon simple syrup, combine the cinnamon sticks with the water and sugar, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a low boil. Boil until the mixture has reduced significantly and turned a light amber color. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Keep an eye on it and don't let it go too far.
  2. Strain the simple syrup through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any wayward cinnamon stick bits.
  3. Put the simple syrup in a jar or container and chill it for several hours.
  4. Right in your serving glass, combine the cherries and cinnamon simple syrup. Give it a good muddle so the cherries release their sweet juice and beautiful color.
  5. Add a few large ice cubes to the glass.
  6. In a cocktail shaker, combine the grapefruit juice, tequila, and Luxardo with ice. Shake well.
  7. Strain into your serving glass, pouring gently so as not to completely mix the bottom and top layers.
  8. Garnish with an additional cherry (and maybe one of the cinnamon sticks you used to make the simple syrup!).
  9. Store any additional simple syrup in the fridge for up to a couple weeks.

Leave a Comment

Please Share Your Thoughts!

Did you make this recipe? Did you make substitutions? How did you serve it? Any helpful tips? Please share your thoughts, since these insights are really useful to both me and to other readers.

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Amy
November 30, 2021
I can already tell, this cocktail is going to be my new favorite! Cinnamon and cherries are such a dreamy combination, and tequila sounds like a great pairing for them. Can't wait to mix some of these up this weekend :) I'll make sure to report back!
Lee
September 15, 2021
Dear Marg LOVAH- Oh heck yes!!! I love the idea of doing this with a ginger simple syrup instead of cinnamon. Please try it and let me know what you think! There's a ginger simple syrup recipe under my "Ginger Bee's Knees" cocktail if you want to check that out.
Marg LOVAH!
September 15, 2021
Wonder if this would work with ginger???