Mee-che-lah-dah. This beer cocktail is wildly popular in Mexico though it's just begun to take it's place in the spotlight in the United States. Made with a tomato and spice base, the cocktail is mixed with a Mexican lager, fresh lime juice, and hot sauce then poured into a salt and spice rimmed glass. Ready for a sip?
The origins of micheladas aren’t well known. Some say it’s named for its alleged inventor, Michel Esper, who reportedly always requested his beer with lime, salt, ice, and a cup, earning it the name Michel’s lemonade, shortened to michelada. Another story says the name came about because the words mi chelda helda, my cold beer, smashed together sound like michelada. Still another story: it was all a marketing ploy by beer companies to not have people complain about the metal taste of drinking a beer out a can.
Whatever version you believe, the fact remains the beer cocktail is spicy and delicious, and especially refreshing in the warmer weather months. And there are about as many variations to the cocktail as there are stories of how it came about. The most traditional michelada is basically a beer version of a Bloody Mary. Then there is the beer and lime base version often called a chelada and a the tomato and clam juice version. Add on to each base a combination of your own spices and sauces, and the cocktails combos are endless. [pagebrea]
To learn how to set up our own michelada bar, we talked to Bryan Lewis of South Carolina’s Basico, for a quick tutorial.
First, you'll need to gather up the basics: tomato juice, fresh lime juice, Mexican hot sauce, and salt and pepper to rim the glass.
Next, start by mixing up the classic version. (You can find a detailed recipe here.) And instead of just throwing it back (and you will be tempted), make some notes on what you like and don't like. Is it too spicy? Maybe not spicy enough? Did the lager you chose overpower the freshness of the tomato juice? Does the acidity of the lime cut through the flavors and add a fresh zing? Or does it take like a lemonade?
Once you've hit on a few flavor profiles you enjoy, dial up those flavors by increasing those ingredients and decreasing the rest. Or if you're feeling adventurous, swapping them out for more powerful flavors. For example, if you're loving the heat, try muddling a jalapeno into the drink. If the tomato juice base calls your name, swap in tomatillos instead.
If you can't decided what you like, invite some friends and host a michelada party! Gather up the ingredients, set them out on a table with a pitchers and glasses, and get ready to mix. Taste test and perfect and then vote for your favorite. If you don't know where to start, here are three takes to get your creative juices flowing. Salud!
Read on for three delicious michelada recipes...