If you’re looking for a delicious non-alcoholic drink recipe to share with friends, try our version of a classic paloma! Our version is made with strawberry and pomelo for a fresh twist that’s pretty pink. This mocktail recipe is perfect for Valentine’s Day!
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We’re back with another non-alcoholic drink recipe, and this time it’s our twist on the classic paloma recipe.
Our virgin paloma recipe has a couple of fun changes: we added some pomelo juice and a splash of strawberry syrup for a delicious flavor variation and a little extra pink color.
I wanted to call this a Sweetheart Paloma or something since this is a perfect pink drink for Valentine’s Day, but I decided against it since you can enjoy this drink any time of year. If you can’t find pomelos, you can use some fresh pink grapefruit juice instead.
This non-alcoholic paloma recipe would be perfect for spring or summer parties, too, since it has strawberry syrup!
What is a pomelo?
Pomelos are in season right now and they are perfect for making this fun twist on the Paloma made alcohol-free with pomelo instead of grapefruit and a little splash of strawberry syrup.
Pomelos are a large citrus fruit similar to grapefruit but with a much thicker peel and sweeter than grapefruit. Interestingly, the grapefruit is a hybrid cross between pomelo and oranges.
Pomelo harvesting season is usually between November and February so they are a great in-season fruit for the winter months. The name “pomelo” can be written in a few different ways. You might also see it spelled as pommelo or pummelo.
I absolutely love the fragrance of pomelo fruit even when it’s just sitting on the countertop, it smells like citrus blossoms. Especially when you cut up your pomelo by cutting off the rind, it has an incredible smell that is so fragrant and floral.
For this recipe, opt for the pomelos that are pink inside if you can. I find that the pink pomelos are more flavorful and have more juice than the pomelos with white fruit inside. Plus it adds some extra pink color to this drink!
If you can’t find fresh pomelos at your local grocery, you can use fresh grapefruit juice (preferably from a red grapefruit). You’ll want to adjust the amount of lime juice in your mocktail based on how tart your grapefruit is and how sweet your grapefruit soda is.
How to make a non-alcoholic pomelo paloma
Traditional palomas are a sparkling Mexican cocktail made with grapefruit soda and tequila. Our zero-proof paloma has some variations and extras added to it while keeping a similar flavor profile.
Since you’re using a fresh pomelo to make this Paloma, it takes a couple of extra steps to make, but it’s worth it!
Here are the steps for making your virgin pomelo paloma. This is just an overview, the full recipe card is at the end of the post.
- First, make your pomelo juice by cutting up the pomelo fruit. Cut the pomelo in half and use a small knife to trace around the fruit in the segments and use a spoon to remove the fruit similar to how you eat a halved grapefruit (our video shows how to do this). This is the easiest way to cut up a pomelo.
- Once your pomelo is segmented and the fruit removed, squeeze any remaining juice out of the leftover rind.
- Add the pomelo segments to a small blender or NutriBullet and pulse until it’s juiced.
- Pour through a strainer to remove the pulp and any seeds and set aside the juice for your paloma.
- Add about 3 ice cubes and 3 ounces of strained pomelo juice to a highball glass (a collins glass will work, too).
- Add 2 ounces of grapefruit soda to the glass. I used Squirt but you can use a lower-sugar grapefruit soda if you like.
- Add 2 ounces of Ritual Zero Proof tequila alternative and 1-2 teaspoons of fresh lime juice. Adjust the lime juice to taste depending on how sweet your grapefruit soda is.
- Add a splash of Rose’s strawberry simple syrup and stir.
- Garnish with a slice of lime or a slice of grapefruit and serve immediately.
You can add a sugar or salt rim to the glass similar to a margarita before making your drink. I decided not to do a salt rim but just garnished it with a slice of lime.
If you want to make a larger batch, use the servings slider in our recipe card to adjust the number of servings you need and mix everything up in a large pitcher. For multiple servings, you’ll probably need several pomelos to make enough juice.
How to reduce the sugar in this Paloma mocktail
If you don’t mind the sugar, Squirt soda works great in this recipe. But it does have a ton of sugar, so if you’re watching your sugar or carb intake, here are a few options for grapefruit-flavored soda that are lower in sugar or completely sugar free that are also free of artificial sweeteners:
- Zevia Grapefruit Soda (completely sugar-free and naturally sweetened)
- Q Mixers
- Betty Buzz
- Fever Tree (this is pink colored as well so it adds extra pink color to your drink!)
- Strongwater sparkling grapefruit soda
What tequila alternative should I use?
I used the Ritual Zero proof non-alcoholic tequila in this recipe since it’s the one that I think tastes the best in non-alcoholic drinks of the 2 tequila alternatives I’ve tried. I have tried the Monday mezcal alternative and I’m not a huge fan of it.
There are a few other options for tequila alternatives, here are a few of them below. Like we mentioned in a few of our other non-alcoholic drink recipes, spirit alternatives are meant to be mixed in mocktails/cocktails and really aren’t going to taste exactly like the real thing, but is going to be close enough when mixed into drinks.
Just keep that in mind when looking for tequila alternatives or non-alcoholic spirits in general. That said, Ritual is my favorite so far and seems to have the best ratings on Amazon for tequila alternatives.
- Ritual Zero Proof tequila alternative (our favorite so far)
- Monday mezcal alternative (ok but not our favorite flavor profile, tastes too much like green peppers to me)
- Cut Above mezcal
- Cut Above agave blanco
- Lyre’s Agave Blanco
- Free Spirits tequila alternative
Strawberry Pomelo Paloma Mocktail Recipe
- 1 pink pomelo, for juice
- 3 ounces fresh pomelo juice (cut off the peel, section the fruit with a knife, then blend the fruit sections and strain)
- 2 ounces ounces grapefruit soda (I used Squirt, but you can use a lower sugar option like Fever Tree)
- 2 ounces Ritual Zero Proof tequila alternative
- 1½ teaspoons fresh lime juice* (adjust amount to taste as needed)
- Splash Rose's strawberry syrup
- Ice cubes
- Juice your pomelo by cutting it in half and using a small knife to slice around the fruit inside each section and lifting it out with a spoon. Similar to how you section a halved grapefruit (we demonstrate this in our video).
- Squeeze any excess juice out of the leftover rind into a dish with the pomelo segments.
- Put the pomelo segments and any pomelo juice into a small blender or NutriBullet and pulse until it is broken down into juice and pulp.
- Pour this through a wire mesh strainer to remove the pulp and seeds.
- To a highball glass, add 3 ice cubes and 3 ounces of pomelo juice.
- Stir in the grapefruit soda, Ritual tequila alternative, lime juice, and a splash of Rose's strawberry simple syrup. Adjust the amount of lime juice depending on how sweet or tart your chosen grapefruit soda is.
- Serve immediately garnished with a slice of lime.
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Sarah Jane Parker is the founder, recipe creator, and photographer behind The Fit Cookie. She’s a food allergy mom and healthy living blogger based in Wyoming. Sarah is also an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer, ACE Certified Health Coach, Revolution Running certified running coach, and an ACE Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist