A michelada is a spicy Mexican cocktail that’s a traditional hangover cure. Tomato juice and beer are the primary ingredients but it’s not complete without the lime and hot sauce.
In Mexico, a michelada is the customary morning-after equivalent of a Bloody Mary—except it’s lighter, less tomato-y, and all around lovelier. While there’s more than one way to mix a michelada, we’re rather partial to the below recipe. Some folks add a drop or three of Worcestershire sauce, others play with the proportion of lime to tomato juice, a few eschew the tomato juice entirely, and at least one person on the planet simply shakes 3 parts beer to 1 part bloody mary mix. Just about all of them caution you to add hot sauce “to taste.” (Stateside, Tabasco may be the most commonly reached for source of heat, but the author prefers a Mexican hot sauce such as Cholula. You may as well just set out whatever bottles of hot sauce you have and let each person add whichever hot sauce in whatever amount they desire.) However you make yours, if it has cerveza, citrus, at least a little tomato juice, and some hot sauce, you can say you’ve made a michelada. Actually, if you follow this recipe, you can say you’ve made two micheladas, as it makes an incredibly generous pour with enough to share.–Renee Schettler
HOW TO PRONOUNCE MICHELADA
Just like there’s more than one way to make a michelada, there’s also more than one way to say “michelada.” That said, we’ve always erred toward the pronunciation “meeeeee chay lah dah.” Sorta just rolls off the tongue. Which is good, because after a few sips of this cocktail we’re too lazy for anything that requires any effort.
For the salty spicy rim (optional)
- 1 tablespoon sea salt fine or coarse
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
- 1 lime wedge
For the michelada
- 2 tablespoons tomato juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon store-bought or homemade hot sauce or less to taste
- Ice cubes
- 1 (12-ounce) bottle cerveza (that is, a pale Mexican beer, nothing dark like Modelo or Dos Equis), chilled
- 2 lime wedges
Make the salty spicy rim (optional)
- On a small plate, stir together the salt and ancho chile powder. Slick the rim of a tall glass with the lime wedge by forcing the wedge onto the rim and running it around the perimeter. Then dip the rim in the salt mixture to coat it. Toss the spent lime wedge to the side and compost or reserve for another use.
Make the michelada
- Pour the tomato juice, lime juice, and hot sauce into a pitcher, or very tall glass, and stir to mix well. Divide the mixture among 2 glasses. Add enough ice cubes to each glass to fill it about 2/3 full. Gradually pour in the beer and serve with a lime wedge on the side. We think you can take it from here…although be sure to consume your michelada relatively quickly, before the ice has a chance to melt into a puddle and dilute your perfect proportions.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
Yowza! This is one spicy beer! It’s not for the faint of heart, but if you’re in the need of a cure (wink), this michelada is sure to help. Just make sure you’re capable of taking down an entire tablespoon of Tabasco. (Isn’t capsaicin really good for you? Michelada = health food!)
Hangover cures aside, drinking this makes me want to sit on a patio, enjoy some live music, and eat my friend Sam’s tacos. I love when a drink plans a party–and when it cures whatever ails you the morning after.
When it’s so hot that chilled white wine or sangria won’t cut the thirst, this michelada is the ticket. It's great for the hot summer days when you can do nothing but grill outdoors and drink something very refreshing and cool. The tomato juice enhances the beer but doesn't dominate it. The spicy rim along with the hot sauce give the michelada just enough kick. (However, some may want to cut back on the hot sauce according to taste.)
Even my diehard beer-drinking purist friends admitted that this was a good drink to offer as a choice. Will try next time with vegetable juice cocktail to see if there is a great difference between that cocktail and one made with tomato juice.
DELICIOUS! Perfectly refreshing. This michelada isn’t a drink that appeals to everyone’s taste, but for those who enjoy a bloody Mary of the Mexican persuasion, it’s near perfect. I added a drop of Tabasco and a bit more lime juice, though it’s up to personal preference if you want to do this.
I’ve had many variations of the michelada. With and without tomato juice, with Clamato, with Worcestershire sauce, with more or less hot sauce. I usually make mine with Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, and lime, and no tomato juice. But I thoroughly enjoyed this tomato-y version.
With a full tablespoon of hot sauce per serving, this makes a rather spicy rendition of this beer cocktail. If you're not fond of heat, you might want to reduce the amount. This recipe also calls for ancho chile powder to be mixed with the salt for the rim, which I initially thought wouldn't add anything to the cocktail, but it turned out to be a nice touch.
You want a fairly light Mexican beer for this drink. If you need to make a gluten-free version, I would recommend using New Grist over the other gluten-free beers out there. It comes closest to the style needed here.
Very refreshing drink. I'd recommend making the rim salt as it definitely adds to the experience. This michelada is much lighter than a bloody Mary and, in my opinion, much more enjoyable. Beer on ice isn’t as strange as it would seem, and the citrus topper has just the right amount of acid to spice up the tomato juice.
I loved the extra spiciness from the ancho chile powder on the rim. But even without it, this michelada was excellent. It’s very refreshing, but this is definitely a drink that needs to be consumed freshly chilled. Once the ice cubes have melted, it becomes not so tasty. Things dilute and get warm and…yuck.
Although I’m not a beer lover, I had some guests who are and they loved this michelada. I did add some Worcestershire sauce–a little less than 1/4 teaspoon–and didn’t use cerveza since it isn’t available here. I thought the drink was nice, but as I said, I’m not a great beer lover. My guests, however, loved the bite of the salty and spicy rim and the hot pepper sauce.
Originally published June 15, 2012