Last week Gregory and I moved into a 1930s treehouse nestled in a wild canyon of Mount Washington in Northeast Los Angeles. After living in tiny Silver Lake apartments for 13 years, it’s an adjustment to no longer call that neighborhood home, but we’ve quickly fallen in love with the fact that we now have a real backyard. Each morning I wake up early and head outside to greet the elder, walnut, oak, and citrus trees, and to watch the comings and goings of squirrels, skunks, and Western scrub jays. And, naturally, I’ve been scoping out the yard for cocktail inspiration, like this nasturtium and grapefruit paloma, which I’m sipping on this Cinco de Mayo.
Margaritas may get all the attention, but the paloma is actually the more popular tequila-based cocktail in Mexico. La paloma is Spanish for “dove” and this sweet and tart drink is typically made with grapefruit-flavored soda. Since I’ve been blessed with a white grapefruit tree in my new backyard (seriously, I can’t stop marveling over this!), I decided to use freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. (You could also use fresh pink grapefruit instead of white.)
I also muddled in a small handful of flowers and leaves from the nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus), one of the most prolific and tasty invasive weeds in California. Peppery in flavor and full of vitamins A, C, and D, the nasturtiums give this cocktail a fun little kick.
If you don’t have wild nasturtiums in your neighborhood, you might also find them growing in gardens or sold in edible flower packs at grocery stores.
Nasturtium and Grapefruit Paloma
Fleur de sel or Kosher salt
Small handful nasturtium flowers and leaves (torn into pieces if large)
1/2 ounce agave nectar
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
2 ounces freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
2 ounces blanco tequila
Club soda, chilled
Grapefruit wedge and nasturtium flowers, for garnish
Moisten the outer rim of a Collins or highball glass with a lime wedge and coat with salt. Muddle the nasturtium flowers and leaves, agave nectar, and lime juice in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add the grapefruit juice and tequila. Fill the shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into the prepared glass. Add ice, top off with club soda, and stir. Garnish with the grapefruit wedge and nasturtium flowers.
Makes 1 drink
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