The Micheladas, Mexico’s answer to the Bloody Mary

Brian Rung

    Hungover north of the border? Sounds like a job for the Bloody Mary.
    What would you do if you were to find yourself nursing a hangover south of the border, and the Bloody Mary was not an option? Enter the Michelada, Mexico's beer-based, “hair of the dog” answer to the Bloody Mary.
    Micheladas have been around as long as there have been tomatoes and beer, mixing the two flavors is by no means unique to Mexico. Where the Michelada takes a refreshing turn is when chile sauces, spices and who knows what else is added to the drink.
    It truly is Mexico's answer to the Bloody Mary in that you are limited only by your imagination once the basic flavor platform of tomato and beer has been added to the glass.
    I have not been able to nail down a date or location of the first Michealda.  Over time the drink developed a reputation as a hangover cure due to its Bloody Mary-like flavor profile, but also because of its low alcohol content.
    The tall drink is only 50 percent beer, so it is not at all heavy on the alcohol.  For this reason the Michelada is also an excellent option for daytime refreshment. It's a bit of an acquired taste, but once you have the taste it is one of the most refreshing drinks that you can reach for on a hot summer day.
    The word “michelada” is derived from the Spanish phrase “mi chela helada.”
    “Chela” is a popular term for beer in Mexico, and “helada” means “frost.”
    When the phrase is combined to form michelada, it literally means “my ice cold beer.”
    Micheladas have been gaining popularity in the United States market over the last decade prompting many beer makers to  issue  “chelada” flavored beers. The two most common chelada-style beers are Miller Chill and the Budweiser/Bud Light Chelada lines.
    If you plan on making Micheladas, plan on making a trip to the grocery store.  You will need to locate the international section for Tajin, chamoy, and Maggi sauce. If you're fortunate enough to live near a Latin market you will have several brands or sauces and spices to choose from.  
    Michelada or no Michelada, you should pick up a bottle of Tajin Classico Seasoning. Tajin is a 100 percent natural blend or prime Mexican chiles, lime, and sea salt.
    You can use it on just about anything and odds are you have been enjoying this spice at your favorite Mexican restaurant for years and just didn't know it.  Tajin Classico is widely available in the United States both in retail supermarkets and online.
    Maggi sauce is a seasoning sauce used in international cooking, mainly Asian and Mexican. It has a similar flavor and texture to soy sauce and is commonly used to flavor noodle dishes. Several sauces and spices are sold under the brand name Maggi, but you want the soy-like sauce likely located near the Asian spices at your local grocery store.
    Chamoy is a Mexican sauce made from pickled fruit, seasoned with chiles.  Chamoys vary in consistency, for this application you want the thinner chamoy, similar in consistency to hot sauce.
    While the chamoy will add flavor to the Michelada, its primary function is to wet the rim of the glass so that the Tajin will adhere to the glass. In Mexican restaurants the chamoy is kept in a bowl behind the bar, and the rim of the glass is submerged in the chamoy before sprinkling Tajin on the glass.
    The main ingredient in the Michelada is Clamato, a juice made from tomato concentrate and clam broth used primarily as a cocktail mixer. Clamato is commonly used in Bloody Marys and other beer cocktails such as the Beer 'n Clam, and the Red Eye.
    Worcestershire sauce is used in the Michelada for the same reason that it is used in the Bloody Mary: it mixes well with tomato.
    In a pinch you can use Heinz, but the best Worcestershire for cocktail applications is original Lea and Perrins.
    You're better off using a smooth Mexcian beer in the Michelada as the Mexican brews tend to mix better in beer-based cocktails. My favorites for the Michelada are Modelo Especial and Dos Equis Lager Especial.
    If you prefer the darker Mexican beers, use them. There isn't a beer brewed south of the border that hasn't been tried in the Michelada. Remember, the best beer for your Michelada is your favorite beer.
    The Michelada is built and served in pint or pilsner glasses.
    Wet rim of glass with chamoy then rim glass with Tajin.
    Combine in glass:
    7 drops of Maggi sauce
    6 drops Worcestershire sauce
    6 to 8 drops hot sauce (I like Cholula)
    Pinch of salt
    Juice from 1/2 lemon
    Stir ingredients
    Fill half of glass with Clamato
    Top with cold beer and stir
    Garnish with lime
    Until next week, enjoy responsibly.