Sometimes it is impossible to decide whether you want a beer or a mixed drink. The only possible answer is the beer cocktail, and the Michelada is a fantastic example of this niche drink style. Made with inspiration taken from the delicious flavors of Mexico, it adds a real punch to the beer base by adding some incredible adjuncts, right down to the hot sauce and a squeeze of lime.
History and Origins
No one is really sure exactly how this drink was first invented, and there are several stories that try to account for its development. The most probable tale being that it was invented around the 1950s or 1960s when the trend for serving beer with lime and salt was popularised in Mexico. The name is a compound word which is made up of “mi” – my, “chela” – meaning a light lager, and finally “helada” which translates as cold. So it is simply describing “my cold beer”.
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Variations on the Original
In some recipes, we see that tomato juice is added to create a riff off the Bloody Mary, with beer replacing the vodka. Others even suggest Clamato – a combination of tomato juice with clam juice. However, adding a tomato element is not compulsory. The Mexico City variant of the cocktail has no tomato juice. The recipe uses spice, lime juice, and hot sauce instead.
Our recipe is from a similar family, using citrus, chili, and other seasonings to bring sweetness and spice to the finished beverage. It is up to you which beer you choose to use in the drink, but naturally, the best choice for authenticity is a light Mexican lager. Think Sol, Pacifico or Dos Equis. Our top tip to add a dash of savory and spicy kick to every mouthful is to rim your glass with a mixture of cayenne pepper and salt.
To make the drink:
- A bottle of chilled beer (try a Mexican lager)
- 0.5 oz fresh lime juice
- A slurp of Worcestershire sauce
- 3 drops of Tabasco or other hot sauce
- Dash ground black pepper
- Dash celery salt
- 1 wedge of lime to garnish
To rim the glass:
- 1 wedge of lime
- A pinch of salt
- A pinch of cayenne pepper
- Rub the edge of a pint glass with a lime wedge
- Mix the salt and cayenne pepper on a flat plate and dip the rim of the glass in it to coat
- Put the lime juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, and celery salt into the glass, taking care not to knock the seasoning on the rim
- Carefully pour the beer into the glass, slowly to avoid too much head forming
- Garnish with a fresh lime wedge
This drink is beautifully refreshing because the beer makes it a long drink, but it is still full of layers of intricate flavor because of the great variety of Mexican spices and other flavors that are within. A fantastic party drink, it is lighter in alcohol than a lot of cocktails and is easy to throw together from ingredients you already have in the cabinet.