Michelada: A Beer Cocktail from Mexico

I spent Memorial Day weekend in Mexico City. It was my first visit to Mexico. We spent the days exploring various neighborhoods and markets. Almost everything we ate from the street vendor’s taco to the fine dining was outstanding. However for my Spoons to Sporks posts, it was tricky. Since I’ve never had really authentic Mexican food before I wanted to try some of the more unusual dishes that I can’t get at Mexican places in the States.

My huitlacoche, corn fungus, empanadas were really good. I wasn’t such a fan of the grilled cactus paddle with braised lamb. There was even a dish with an ingredient that translated to ant swarm. I didn’t ask too much about that one… sometimes ignorance is bliss.

Although for me the best part of the cuisine was the sauces. With great enthusiasm, I applied the accompanying condiments liberally to everything I ate. The one that I found most interesting/yummy/searingly hot was almost black and made with ashes among, I imagine, many other ingredients.

Unfortunately, I can’t easily find corn fungus, cactus paddles, food grade ashes or ant swarm in New York. However, all those fun and interesting dishes were washed down with some terrific drinks and drinks I can do. The only time I ever graduated first in my glass was from bartending school.

One night as we were sampling various cervezas and Reed ordered a Sol. For some reason this beer arrived as a cocktail with a salt rimmed, glass already partly filled with a salty lime juice mixture and ice. I’ve never been a fan of beer cocktails but this was light and refreshing. I tried to ask the waiter what was in it but the language barrier got in the way. When I got home I looked it up and that’s when I discovered the Michelada.

Micheladas are ‘prepared beer’ and according to Google are quite popular in Mexico and Texas. There’s a million regional variations. The most common ingredients I found included, but were not limited to, tomato juice, Clamato, soy sauce, lime juice, lemon juice, salt, hot sauce, and/or Worcestershire sauce. I did a little experimenting (I really sacrifice for this blog sometimes) and I prefer my Michelada without tomato or Worcestershire. I don’t enjoy Bloody Marys and I imagine that’s a good way to gauge whether you’d prefer your Michelada with or without tomato juice and Worcestershire. Lastly, I didn’t mess around with the soy sauce. It didn’t seem like a logical ingredient for a traditional Mexican cocktail. Plus I’m reasonably sure the Micheladas we sampled in Mexico City kept it simple with just lime, salt, and a dash of hot sauce and I really liked those.

Michelada (serves 1, scale as needed)

(Active time: 5 minutes)

  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 3-6 dashes of hot sauce
  • ice
  • 1 light Mexican beer (Sol, Dos Equis, Pacifico, Modelo etc.)

Mix salt and chili powder in a shallow bowl. Run a slice of lime around the rim of a chilled glass, and then dip it in salt and chili mixture. Next add lime juice, hot sauce,  and ice to the glass. Finally, pour in a cold beer and gently stir.

-if you’re looking for a stronger drink add a shot of tequila with the ice.

**A Michelada is great served with tortilla chips and guacamole and/or salsa.

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