A Mezcal Paloma at Sundown Is Great. Two Tweaks Make It Essential
A Vespertine Paloma is the best drink for enjoying a sunset on a roof. Acrylic Pearl Diver glasses ($29.99 for four) by Cocktail Kingdom. (Photographer: Janelle Jones/Bloomberg) 

A Mezcal Paloma at Sundown Is Great. Two Tweaks Make It Essential

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(Bloomberg) -- From a clandestine romp past a deactivated fire exit to a private cabana in a swank party spot, there’s nothing quite like basking in 360-degree views of the summer sunset atop a well-placed rooftop—and then extending that party well into the night. A zingy Paloma (tequila, grapefruit soda, lime, and a little bit of salt) is the perfect sundowner, with enough sugar and bite to accompany that carefree, slippery slide.

Karen Fu, bartender at République in L.A. especially likes these “no-brainer casual crushers” for their simplicity and riffability. “Spritzy and tall with touch a lime tartness, Palomas come with a fun amount of wiggle room to express a little whimsy,” she says, “whether it’s in the grapefruit, bubbly, agave spirit, or sweetening modifier.”

A Mezcal Paloma at Sundown Is Great. Two Tweaks Make It Essential

Our Vespertine  variation swaps out the tequila for mezcal, grapefruit soda for a ruby red wine cooler, and adds a dash of elderflower liqueur. Refreshing yet robust.

Mezcal is the broader category of agave-based spirits to which tequila belongs, with many offering a briny smoke to rival the most peaty Scotches. Try to find a reasonably-priced bottle like Sombra, since it’s designed for mixing in cocktails—anything more expensive is overkill. (Bonus: Sombra is committed to sustainability; they upcycle their waste into adobe bricks and work to protect the local water supply.) 

You’ve no doubt seen Art Deco bottles of St-Germain lording over top shelves, as the French elderflower liqueur’s ubiquity has earned it both the cheeky nickname “bartender’s ketchup” and status as crowd-pleasing home bar staple. Its soft, flowery sweetness is equally at home in a great spritz with sparkling wine and soda water or an upscaled gin and tonic, but plays especially nice off the smokiness of the mezcal here.

For a healthy dose of bright acidity and additional wine aromatics, we substitute Ramona, a canned grapefruit white wine cooler (or “spritz” in their terminology), for the classic grapefruit soda. If you can’t find it, use Squirt or Ting and your drink will be great—just a bit less intense.  

A word of caution, this cocktail packs a punch; it’s all booze except for the ice. Chill the ingredients for at least two hours before mixing to ensure your drinks are as cold as possible.

Vespertine Paloma

Serves 1 

1 ½ oz. Sombra mezcal
1 oz. St-Germain elderflower liqueur
1 can (about 8.4 oz.) Ramona Ruby Grapefruit
 
Combine all ingredients in an unbreakable cup with ice and stir to combine. Garnish with a lime wedge. This recipe can easily scaled up into a pitcher or even a punch bowl. 

adj. relating to, occurring, or active in the evening

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