The Michelada is a weird drink. It’s a beer cocktail, but a strange one at that. It has no history, so we can’t point to the “first” instance of the drink and try to replicate that. It has no recipe or standard set of ingredients, it’s just… beer with some stuff of your choice mixed in.
As I see it, there are three main types of beer cocktails:
- Beer and Juice (the Shandy, the Radler, the Red Beer and even the Brass Monkey)
- Beer and Fermented Stuff (the Snakebite, the Black Velvet, the Sake Bomb, and the Black and Tan)
- Beer and Booze (the Boilermaker and the Picon Biere)
But depending on who you’re talking to, the Michelada has a whole wide range of ingredients. It stands alone in this fourth category of beer-and-umami cocktails. Some versions call for tomato juice, some don’t. Some call for Clamato. Some have all kinds of super umami ingredients such as Maggi Seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, or soy sauce. And no, there is nothing inherently Mexican about any of those last three ingredients.
Unfortunately we don’t have a David Wondrich to decode the history of the Michelada for us in an academic way. [UPDATE: Shortly after this was published, Dave answered the call and wrote this article about the Michelada’s history.] The closest I could find came from Jim Meehan’s excellent Bartender’s Manual, where he breaks down the etymology of the Michelada as such:
- “Mi” (my)
- “Helada” (cold)
- “Chela” (beer)
On a personal note, every single Michelada that I’ve ever been served has been, to put it bluntly, f*cking gross. You take crappy beer, put a bunch of Worcestershire or Bloody Mary mix in it, and serve it with a salt rim. It’s an overly savory, undrinkable mess of a “cocktail”. I have always secretly hated Micheladas.
So, naturally, when loading up our latest iteration of the brunch menu at Clyde Common with morning drinks, we came across the Michelada as a potential candidate and had to make a tough decision: how can we tackle this horrible monster of a drink and make it actually drinkable?
If you remember anything about me, you’ll recall that my mantra is this: I’m lazy and I like things that taste good. Well, I definitely didn’t work hard on this one at all. Because after trying nearly 20 iterations of the drink, I suddenly remembered that my good friend Erick Castro has the best Michelada recipe in the world.
So we tried his version, tweaked nearly nothing, and lo-and-behold, Clyde Common now serves the best Michelada in Oregon. Thanks, Erick! The only thing we did to your drink was to rim the glass with Tajin, a zesty lime/chili/salt mix that is the topping of choice for fresh mango (Texas’ Twang line of products work here as well)
On one last note, if you’re ever stuck on a drink and need help making a good one, it’s always a good idea to have a list of bartenders in your back pocket who probably have a recipe better than yours. My list always includes Erick Castro, his recipes have gotten me out of a pinch on multiple occasions.
Michelada Print Me
- ¾ oz/22.5 ml fresh orange juice
- ¾ oz/22.5 ml fresh lime juice
- ½ oz/15 ml simple syrup
- 1 tsp/5 ml Tapatio hot sauce
- lager beer
- Rim a chilled pint glass with lime
- Roll rim in Tajin, knocking off any excess
- In a mixing glass, combine orange juice, lime juice, simple syrup, and Tapatio
- Fill glass with ice and top with beer of your choice
- Roll ingredients gently
- Pour into rimmed pint glass
- Garnish with a lime wedge and serve
Recipe printed courtesy of jeffreymorgenthaler.com
18 Replies to “Finally, A Delicious Michelada!”
Great Recipe! This looks like it would pair PERFECTLY with our Picante chile covered candy!
Tried this today. I had 2:1 syrup instead of 1:1. So, I adjusted accordingly. Honestly, though, I think any beer-based mixed drink is nearly always a fight against dilution and loss of carbonation. So, anywhere unnecessary water is shaved… well… can’t hurt.
Anyway, I went through a few rounds. I imagine the exact proportions depend at least a little on the beer (I had Modelo Especial), not to mention taste. I wound up doubling the hot sauce and increasing the lime ever so slightly—basically an extra dash.
In any case, the result was very satisfying and tasty. So, thanks for this one, man!
I go with equal parts lime and tapatio. Three to four dashes Worcestershire, ice and beer. It sounds spicier than it tastes. It’s how they do ’em in Mexico city and Oaxaca and it’s far better than the variations with tomato, clamato, or the truly awful bloody Mary mix nonsense. Orange juice though? Sounds crazy to me, but I will try it against my standard recipe and decide. Simple also sounds strange and I wouldn’t have thought of it, but as a spice tempering agent I can see it working. Don’t think I would prefer it. Anyone drink/make it similary? Love your book, btw.
No tomato juice? None at all? I can’t get behind this. Also: I always add a dash of simple and a dash of soy sauce to my Micheladas. I get very few complaints. If one has La Victoria on draft, that’s the best beer to use… if not, Negro Modelo or reg. Modelo works well.
Just… try it.
Try making one with Negra Modelo, it may sound weird but once you try it you’ll understand. Like you said in a previous comment, Micheladas often feel thin, and the light maltiness you get from the NM helps round out the drink.
I can totally get behind that idea.
I just wanted to point out a typo so it could be corrected. I prefer measuring in mL so this will be helpful for other people like me.
– ½ oz/22.5 ml simple syrup – Current
– ½ oz/15 ml simple syrup – Should Be
Thanks man! Also, does it seem weird that a guy named Bill W. is proofreading a cocktail blog?
Mango Micheladas from Mosh, Rock & Burgers in Nicaragua… yeah you need a passport to try this one but its worth it!
It’s salsa, mexican beer, (I love good craft beer, this is not the place for it) and maggi and lime. Flavor/body is determined by the quality of the salsa. It should be real, not out of a jar.
When done well it can be thought of as a mexican bloody mary.
The simple syrup in this is blowing my mind. IN all my years of experimenting to find the perfect michelada recipe, I’ve never added sweetener (beyond playing with sweeter beers).
I highly recommend exploring craft brewed options for the base as well – there’s so much more the beer can bring to the equation than the bland bubbles of the typical light lager.
I know, me too! I was skeptical at first but rather than coming off sweet, it adds some much-needed body to the drink. I’ve always had a problem with how ‘thin’ your typical Michelada is.
We use a local small craft-brewed lager at the bar that we collaborated with the brewery on. It’s our house beer and leaps and bounds better than any cheap watery beer for sure.
Will definitely try out
I enjoy couple of micheladas. Your recipe seems simple enough.
Nope….Fruit is where everyone goes wrong…Go to Freddy’s Tacos in Ontario, CA . That’s the best Michelada in the world.
Not so secretly anymore. That said, having a Castro on your speed dial is good for many things. Gotta get me one.
Or you can Mr. Chile Michelada Mix on IG and get the best bottled mix on the market today. You’re welcome!
As that product looks truly disgusting, I’m going to take a hard pass. But thanks anyway!