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