In Mexico, you’ll likely see people sipping on micheladas by the pool or when dining on patios. While a michelada might look like a Bloody Mary, this popular Mexican cocktail uses beer instead of vodka for a lighter taste and lower alcohol content. Chela is slang for ‘beer’ in Mexico, while helado means ‘ice;’ therefore the phrase mi chela helada means ‘my ice-cold beer.’ A michelada is a refreshing Mexican beer cocktail that requires little effort to make and uses just a few ingredients.
Traditionally, a michelada is made with beer, tomato juice or Clamato, hot sauce, lime juice and salt. This basic approach to a beer cocktail expanded over the years to include a variety of savory ingredients, such as Maggi sauce or a combination of soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Like a margarita, a salt rim is essential to the overall flavor and the key to a good michelada. Using salt on the rim helps to bring out the sour flavors of the lime-infused beer. Usually, plain rimming salt is used; however, contemporary versions are sometimes prepared with chile powder or Tajín, a popular Mexican brand of chile-lime seasoning.
In general, when making a michelada, you want to use a light, refreshing beer with a relatively low ABV. You want to stay away from beers with strong or distinctive flavors and too much hoppiness. You can use either light or dark Mexican lager, but most recipes call for amber beer in the style of Vienna lager. Dos Equis, Negra Modelo and Victoria are suitable brands and their caramel notes work very well with the rest of the ingredients. You can also use Sol, Tecate or Corona.
The michelada grew naturally out of the common Mexican practice of adding fresh-squeezed lime juice and a dash of salt to a beer, known as a chelada. Micheladas differ from cheladas in that they are made with more ingredients. Micheladas are entirely customizable, and served over ice, it’s a perfect accompaniment to Mexican food. Delicious and super refreshing on a hot summer day, this savory drink is a welcomed palate-cleanser.