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