From the Spanish, paloma translates to dove or pigeon. Paloma can be a first name, as in the case of Pablo Picasso's daughter, or a last name. I have also seen it used as a name for a horse.

There is a Paloma, Illinois, USA (Zip 62359) and a Paloma Valley in California, USA.

Paloma was also the first named cultivar of Indian ricegrass, (Achnatherum Hymenoides). Its seeds are large and black. Eaten by both livestock and wildlife, paloma also serves to stabilize the soil and revegetate damaged land. Both drought tolerant and long-lived, it is climatically best suited to the southwest USA. It regrows well, and recovers quickly in the spring. Along with Nazpar, Paloma is sold commercially. Where Nazpar grows best at altitudes exceeding 2000m, Paloma grows better at altitudes under 2000m. It was first collected for breeding in 1957 in Pueblo, Colorado, USA.

Paloma is also a modern constellation in the Equatorial south, with the Alpha luminary, Phact.
It is known in English as Dove, and coded universally as Col, from the Latin Columba.
In Scottish it is an Calman, in Irish it is an Colm, in Slovak it is Holubica, in Czech it is Holubice, in Slovenian it is Golob, in Dutch it is Duif, in Hungarian it is Galamo, in Jordanian it is Al-Hamamah, in Japanese it is Hato, in both Norwegian and Danish it is Duen, in Icelandic it is Dúfan, in Swedish it is Duvan, in Finnish it is Kyyhkynen, in Portuguese it is Pomba, in German it is Taube, in Latvian it is Balodis, in Catalan it is Colom, in Indian it is Parvat, in Iranian it is Kaboutar, in Esperanto it is Kolombo, in Polish it is Golab, and in French it is Colombe.

In Belize, Paloma is said when a boy wants to cut into a dance already underway between a couple. This could be repeated by another boy within the same dance, so as to compete for the place with the girl.

Paloma is also a Slovenian company, which began to produce paper in Sladki Vrh, in 1873. Under the name Paloma Sladkogorska, it owns the brands Paloma, Paloma Natura, Paloma Exclusive, Paloma Krep, and Carlina. The company continues to make paper, and specializes in hygienic paper products such as napkins, toilet paper, and paper towels. Their television marketing, with the slogan "The World Without Us", features people wiping their mouths on their sleeves and ties, and blowing their noses with their shirttails; it finishes with a shot of a woman entering a bathroom.

There is also an electro-pop musician by the name Laurent Vassière who uses Paloma as an alias. He plays acoustic guitar with a mix of synth. Paloma has produced one album Take Care of Me, released on Madrid's Acuarela label.

Una Paloma Blanca is a number one song written in 1975 by Dutch musician George Baker.

La Paloma is also a famous Cuban ballad written in 1884 by Sebastian Yradier:

Cuando salí de la Habana, válgame Dios
Nadie me ha visto salir
Sinó fui yo,
Y una linda Guachinanga, allá voy yo
Que se vino tras de mi, que sí señor.

Si a tu ventana llega una paloma
Trátala com cariño, que es mi persona
Cuéntale tus amores, bien de mi vida
Corónala de flores que es cosa mía.

Ay! chinita que sí,
Ay! que dame tu amor
Ay! que vente comigo chinita
a donde vivo yo
Ay! chinita que sí
Ay! que dame tu amor
Ay! que vente comigo chinita
a donde vivo yo.

El día que nos casemos, válgame Dios!
En la semana que hay ir me hace reir
Desde la iglesia juntitos, que si señor
Nos iremos a dormir, Allá voy yo.

It seems like we’ve had alcoholic drinks for ever, but that’s patently false. What does ring true for me is saying that for as long as we’ve had alcoholic drinks, we’ve had drunks.

There’s reports of animals eating partially rotten or fermented food to get an alcoholic stupor of sorts, much like we do—intentionally or not—on a daily basis. The brain on ethanol experiences a plethora of feelings, low inhibitions and several heightened sensations (rage, lust, euphoria, etc.) so it’s easy to see why it’s so popular.

But we don’t just drink any old thing,1 no sir. No other animal cooks and prepares food quite like we do, and I hesitate to say if our culinary advancement is a product of necessity, of seeking new sensual pleasures or a bizarre combination of the two.2 There’s obviously a hedonistic aspect to us wanting our food and drink to be tasty and not merely fulfilling. Alcohol is obviously a part of this.

So we create cocktails: we mix one drink with another because their combined flavor in the right proportion is perhaps better together than separate. The whole is tastier than the sum of its parts. So we add more: solid food, non-alcoholic drinks, dairy, aromatic smokes and fumes, and, in some extreme cases, even sounds.3 Our quest for more elaborate and tastier drinks shows no sign of stopping, either by creating new «raw» ingredients or by mixing what exists in new forms.

We create new «ingredients» or mix them in new ways. Pretty much like every other creative pursuit.

And so there come different schools of thought—or rather, schools of practice—depending on the end goal. One such axis is all about complexity: they look forward to new mixed drinks, exact ratios, a good balance of flavors, even recreation of other foodstuffs in drink form.4 At the other end, there’s those who look for something simple, easily achievable, even if that means sacrificing complexity and the potential for novelty.

Another axis lies on the debate of prescription versus description. A Long Island Iced Tea is certainly not complex (all ingredients in equal parts by volume) but it’s a very specific thing. At the other end, there’s cocktails with barely any specifics tied down to it, other than a loose list of ingredients.

With this in mind I hope you’ll understand my approach to writing about what a Paloma is. These meandering words are a long-winded way of saying that I don’t wish to write about what a Paloma is and how to prepare it. It would be like writing about the pavement on my street: it’s not important at all.

My experience and memories of Palomas has got to do with the fact that they were present then and there, but they were by no means a crucial part to my life. All those interesting conversations and my first hangover would have probably been the same if I had had something else. Palomas are supremely common: the only reason why I’ve had Palomas for three weekends in a row has nothing to do with any actual craving and more to do with the fact that there have been many parties these past weekends. It’s like saying I listened to music in the last three parties that I attended.

Those who don’t drink Palomas? They usually don’t drink anything at all. Very, very few people that I know actively reject them for taste reasons (or because they’re driving). It may not be everyone’s favorite, but almost no one dislikes it. If it’s the only drink at the party, most everyone will have it with the aforementioned exceptions. In fact, not having it could be considered an insult in some social occasions.

Why Palomas? Let me list a few facts that help explain why it’s a popular choice for underage drinkers: For starters, the ingredients are common and cheap. Drinking a distilled spirit means one needs a relatively small volume to achieve a similar high than with, say, wine or beer. There’s smaller bottles as well, so it’s easier to smuggle. By using a cold mixer, the whole cocktail can be reasonably cool even if there’s no ice.5 It’s reasonably easy to pass off as a soft drink, the bubbles aid the intoxication process, the flavor is interesting and «mature» enough to serve as a small rite of passage.6

In other words, pretty much the same as a Rum and Coke. The answer to «Why Palomas» is mostly «because it’s there».

My experience with Palomas—as you might have guessed by now—started way before it was advisable to do so. Someone smuggled a juice bottle with tequila during our field trip when we were about 13 or 14. The guy at the shop had no reason to refuse selling soda and plastic cups to a bunch of kids, and so we found a spot in the shade and away from the teacher’s gaze.

I didn’t like it at first, but being offered a sip was a sign that I was considered to be «in». By the time we organized our own «graduation» party7 some in our group had become better at obtaining liquor, either through barely legal brothers and cousins, or through knowing unscrupulous store owners willing to sell to neighborhood kids who know where to knock. We drank, we sang, we danced, we were merry.

But—and I need to make this clear—the Palomas themselves weren’t crucial. They could have been beer, or rum-and-cokes, or most any other alcoholic drink. We weren’t there to drink Palomas, but to drink something. They were not the important bit, we drank Palomas because, well, one drinks Palomas at parties.

So yeah, I can say Palomas are a cocktail made with Tequila (2 fl. oz.) and grapefruit soda, served over ice in a salt-rimmed glass, lime juice optional. But that takes the soul out of it. That’s not how I know Palomas, that’s not how I drink them, that’s not how I see people around them drink them. That’s an intellectual level very removed from the reality I know: no one bothers at all with quantities and ratios. No «graduation party» for 15 year olds is going to have teens rimming glasses with salt and cutting limes—if anything, the limes would be used to drink the tequila straight.

Saying that Palomas is «the Mexican cocktail second to none» might suggest a wrong idea. It is a cocktail in a dry, technical sense, but I do not see it in the same category as a Manhattan, a Negroni, a Screwdriver. It’s something that’s there, like the pavement in my street. It’s something that people do at parties, like dancing. Why, it’s even hard to find in pretty much any restaurant or bar that sells cocktails: you’ll have much better luck if you ask for tequila and grapefruit soda directly instead of trying to find it at the drinks menu.

By all means, go ahead and make yourself one, if you so desire. Add tonic water, or club soda, or what have you. I won’t gatekeep Palomas to anyone, feel free to follow the fancy recipes on trendy food magazines, or the variations by this or that mixologist Youtuber.

Me? I serve tequila up to the first or second mark on the plastic Solo cup if I can be bothered to measure, add ice, add soda and continue chatting people up at baptisms, graduation parties and camping trips.

  1. «We» as in, humanity as a whole, of course.

  2. Well, obviously it’s some combination of those, but it’s impossible to me to separate one fact from the other, or to even make an educated guess as to which came first. Establishing causality in something as ingrained to us as the history of food is something that I’d rather leave to the specialists. What I will say is that I don’t know of any evident biological or physiological need for our food to be tasty; and it’s likely that our acquired taste is a function of what we have access to—i.e., the food that we can cook. Cooked food is advantageous for several reasons (digests easier, can be eaten faster, is generally cleaner, etc.) and our taste surely comes from that; but our desire to make food tastier is more on the hedonistic side.

  3. OK, granted: I don’t know of any cocktail that lists any sound or auditory component as one of its ingredients, but I’m sure there must be some sort of high-end bar somewhere that does.

  4. Not too long ago I saw a drink recipe claiming to taste like chocolate-chip cookie dough. My soul won’t know peace until I verify this claim.

  5. Even describing it as a «cocktail» feels alien to me. My (admittedly irrational) gut feeling is that it’s not a cocktail only because cocktails are supposed to be fancier and well thought-out. That’s a demonstrably false statement, but it feels true.

  6. Not formally, mind you. The actual rite of passage would be being invited to a party and ceding to peer pressure rather than the actual taste.

  7. The usual education scheme here is: six years of Primaria, three years of Secundaria and three of Preparatoria or Bachillerato. This was the end of Secundaria, so it was about equivalent to 9th in the USA.

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