Do you know Texas’ most popular cocktail? Hint: It’s not the margarita

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Do you know Texas’ most popular cocktail? Hint: It’s not the margarita

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You can order the refreshing Hibiscus Paloma at Round Rock restaurant Salt Traders Coastal Cooking.

That’s right: Texas’ beloved margarita, somehow, isn’t our ultimate favorite.

At least that’s according to data from Versus Reviews, a product reviews and ratings website. According to the Dallas Morning News, the site compiled Google search data, including recipe, image and glassware inquiries, to determine which cocktails each state is most interested in. 

Texas’ most searched-for drink might not have been the almighty margarita, but it’s still a cocktail featuring our spirit of choice, tequila: the pretty-in-pink paloma.

Palomas, which are actually more popular in Mexico than margaritas, are commonly made with tequila, grapefruit juice or grapefruit soda, lime juice, sugar and club soda to top. If Texans really do prefer palomas to margaritas, it could be because our state grows some of the best grapefruits, juicy and sweet, that you could hope for. The combination of that freshly squeezed grapefruit with lime and tequila is just divine.

In fact, one of my very first cocktail columns for the American-Statesman was this exploration of grapefruit in cocktails. My love of the paloma gave me the idea.

And two summers ago, I wrote about the Austin-based maker of Paula’s liqueurs, Texacello, adding a Paula’s Texas Grapefruit flavor. The distillery already made Paula’s Texas Orange and Paula’s Texas Lemon, but the grapefruit liqueur came along because Texacello recognized how much people were seeking out the ruby red grapefruit flavor in just about everything.

So maybe Versus Reviews is onto something. (The website noted that the margarita is actually the most popular cocktail in Kansas, and Colorado and Illinois are also two states that prefer palomas the most. You can explore the drinks of all 50 U.S. states here.)

Texas, of course, has always been a tequila-loving state, but it’s good to see we are most interested in combining the agave spirit with a fruit we specialize in growing. 

You can try palomas at many local bars and restaurants, including Licha’s Cantina on East Sixth Street, La Condesa in downtown Austin and Salt Traders Coastal Cooking in Round Rock. Or, if you want to try your hand at making one yourself, here’s the recipe Salt Traders has created for their fun, floral twist on the paloma.

Pepe’s Hibiscus Paloma

1 1/2 oz. Pepe Z Blanco Tequila 

½oz.  Fruit Lab Hibiscus Liqueur 

1 oz. fresh squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice 

1/2 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice 

grapefruit soda 

1 scoop of ice

citrus salt 

In a shaker, add ice, tequila, hibiscus liqueur, grapefruit juice and lime juice. Shake and strain into a Collins glass with a citrus salt rim. 

Top with grapefruit soda, like Jarritos. Garnish with a grapefruit slice.

— Salt Traders beverage director David Toby

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