If the only Mexican cocktail you’re familiar with is the margarita, let me introduce you to the michelada, a refreshing beer-based alcoholic beverage consumed throughout Mexico and by many Mexican-Americans in the United States. You can spice up your next party or barbecue by adding micheladas to the menu!
In this article, I’ll fill you in on everything you need to know about micheladas. You’ll learn about all of the different varieties of michelada and how to make them. If that’s not enough to entice you, you’ll also get to watch hilarious videos of guys from Louisiana reviewing canned micheladas.
What Is a Michelada?
Micheladas can be made in a variety of different ways, but generally, they’re a combination of beer, tomato juice or Clamato, salt, chili powder, hot sauce, soy sauce, and lime juice.
A michelada is like a beer Bloody Mary, and many Mexicans believe the drink is a good remedy for hangovers. I’ve never understood the science behind drinking to cure a hangover, but I won’t argue with the anecdotal evidence.
Often, micheladas are served in glasses rimmed with either salt or chili powder.
Different Types of Micheladas
Different restaurants and different regions of Mexico make micheladas in different ways. Almost all of them will be made with a light beer like Corona, salt, and lime juice, but the other michelada ingredients will vary more. The key distinction between micheladas is that some are more spicy than others.
Here are some more unusual michelada ingredients:
- Worcestershire sauce
- Maggi- a seasoning sauce similar to soy sauce
- Soy sauce
- Hot sauce like Tabasco
- Tomato juice
- Clamato- a combination of tomato juice and clam juice
- Orange juice or oranges
- Black pepper
- Chili powder
- Cayenne pepper
Cheladas Vs. Micheladas
There’s also a drink called a chelada, which is often confused with a michelada. Traditionally, a chelada is a michelada without the spices. It’s just beer, salt, and lime juice. Meanwhile, traditional michelada ingredients include chili powder, tomato juice, hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce.
In Mexico (and elsewhere), people will often call “cheladas” “micheladas.” Because the terms are used interchangeably, if you’re at a restaurant or bar, check the ingredients so you know which kind of drink you’re getting.
How to Make a Michelada
I’ll give you a couple of basic michelada recipes so you can whip up this refreshing drink for you and your compadres.
The Basic Michelada
Here’s how to make your standard michelada.
- 1/2 cup of beer (any beer will do, but I prefer a Mexican beer like Corona or Cerveza Pacífico)
- 1 1/2 cups of tomato juice or Clamato
- 1 juiced lime
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of soy sauce or Maggi (Maggi is hard to find in the US)
- 1 dash of hot sauce (usually Tabasco, but Tapatío or Cholula will work)
- Coarse salt or chili powder to rim the glass
- First, to rim the glass, put some lime juice and either the coarse salt or chili powder on a plate. I like to rim my glass with chili powder, but if you fear that’s going to be too much spice for you, you can rim your glass with salt.
- Dip the rim in lime juice and then the chili powder or salt.
- You can add ice, if you like your drinks really cold.
- Then, add the salt, lime juice, soy sauce, and hot sauce. You can substitute Worcestershire for soy, or add both if you like your cocktails especially salty.
- Next, pour in your tomato juice or Clamato.
- Finally, add the beer and stir up your concoction really well.
The Basic Chelada
A chelada is super easy to make. Again, it’s just beer, lime juice, and salt.
- 12 ounce bottle of beer
- 1 juiced lime
- Coarse salt
- A lime wedge for garnish (if you want to be fancy)
- Rim the glass by dipping it in lime juice and then the coarse salt.
- Add ice, if you want your chelada chilled.
- Pour in the lime juice
- Add beer to the top of your glass.
- Garnish with your lime wedge, if you’re the garnishing type
Fancy Michelada Recipes
You can put your own twist on a traditional michelada by adding different liquors, spices, and fruits. For example, you can put tequila in your michelada for an extra kick. Or you can add pineapple or mango to make a fruity michelada. Some versions of micheladas will even add beef stock or chicken bouillon cubes to provide some umami flavor to the michelada.
Here are a few examples of some of the more unique micheladas I discovered.
This is a michelada with pineapple and tequila. It also requires fancy spices like star anise and allspice, but you can tweak the recipe if you just want to put some pineapple and tequila in your michelada.
For this michelada, you use blood orange juice instead of tomato juice. It’s also made without soy sauce or Worcestershire.
Making this cocktail involves slight alterations of the traditional michelada recipe, including juicing fresh tomatoes instead of using pre-made tomato juice or Clamato. Also, the addition of cilantro adds a herbaceous flavor. Finally, this recipe calls for garlic powder and ground black pepper, in addition to salt and cayenne pepper, which are used to rim the glass.
If you don’t fancy yourself much of a bartender and you prefer drinking to making drinks, you can simply purchase a michelada mix. All you have to do is pour your michelada mix into a glass of beer and you’re good to go. Your typical michelada mix will give you that tomato, lime, and salt flavor associated with a michelada.
If you want to spice up your Michelada, you can add some hot sauce or rim your glass with chili powder. Here are a few of the more reputable michelada mixes you can purchase. Generally, each mix requires 4 ounces of mix for every 12 ounces of beer.
Triple-S Michelada Mix comes from Brownsville, Texas, right on the Mexican border. The mix uses celery salt, tomato juice, key lime and other “secret ingredients.” You can buy a single Triple-S Michelada Mix 32 ounce bottle for $10.
This company with a very straightforward name is based in Los Angeles. It sells a classic Michelada mix in a 32 ounce bottle for $9.50.
The Moondance Michelada Mix is on the spicier side. Also, this mix is a little more pricey at $8.99 for a 12.7 ounce bottle.
If you don’t want to bother with glasses, mixes, or making your own drink, you can just buy a pre-made michelada. All you have to do is open up a can and imbibe. Check out reviews of well-known brands below.
Tecate offers two different versions of a Michelada that you can drink out of a can. You can get the Tecate Michelada or the Tecate Michelada Diablo. The Michelada Diablo is a spicier version for those of you that like a little kick. Both are sold in a 24 ounce can.
Check out this video review of the Tecate Michelada by two dudes who bought 8 of them and seem to be pleased with their purchase:
And watch this guy from Louisiana, who doesn’t know how to pronounce Michelada (mee-che-la-da), give his review of the Tecate Michelada Diablo. He seemed a little upset that it’s only 3.5% alcohol:
Modelo Especial sells a Modelo Especial Chelada, which offers a combo of salt, lime, and tomato juice flavor. It’s not as spicy as the Tecate Michelada or the Tecate Michelada Diablo.
Watch the same guy from Louisiana review the Modelo Especial Chelada with his buddy. For some reason, I find these guys comical. They seem perplexed by the overwhelming tomato flavor:
Budweiser sells a Budweiser Chelada with Clamato and a Budweiser Chelada with Clamato Picante. The Picante is the spicy version. If you’re watching your calories, there’s also a Bud Light version. Budweiser describes its chelada as “the crisp smooth taste of an American lager, the rich spicy flavor of Clamato, and a hint of lime.”
Watch the self-proclaimed “Supertaster” review the Budweiser Chelada below. His reaction to the odor and taste is a bit extreme, and it’s safe to say he doesn’t like the Budweiser Chelada at all:
Micheladas: The Bottom Line
If you like beer and bold flavors, you can’t go wrong with a refreshing michelada. This tasty beer cocktail can be made in a variety of ways, but typically, it’s made with a combination of beer, lime juice, salt, hot sauce, tomato juice or Clamato, soy sauce, and chili powder.
You can alter the traditional michelada recipe to fit your taste preferences, or you can opt for a chelada, a cocktail made with beer, salt, and lime juice.
If you want to simplify the process of how to make a michelada, use a mix or just drink a pre-made michelada out of can. But, let’s be honest, fresher almost always tastes better.