An ideal michelada requires restraint

I thought I didn’t like michelada, until I realized I had been drinking it wrong most of my life. Usually, when you order or follow a recipe for this spice beer cocktailThe results were more like a beer meets a Bloody Mary flavor bomb, rather than what it should have been: a refreshing, spiced beer on ice.

One of Mexico’s most popular drinks, the michelada consists of hot sauce, lemon, and cheap light beer – plus a bit of tomato juice and Maggi seasoning or Worcestershire sauce. The name of the drink may represent The best contraction in the world, combined with “chilla”, a slang term for beer; “Ada” from “Hilada” meaning cold; and “mi” mine – aka “my cold drink”. Depending on which bar door Go dark in any part of the country, you’ll find countless cliffs – all watering enough to comfort you during a scorching summer afternoon.

It took the commute to the borderlands of southern New Mexico – where michelada is called red ale – to realize a mistake of my way. On a scorching Friday at Elephant Ranch in Las Cruces, we ordered a round, which arrived in clear plastic cups topped with lemon and salt, really condensed. The easy-drinking Mexican beer was stained a dull red from tomato juice and wrinkled with lemon, salt, and chile, and it went down remarkably quickly. As we were grinding up the leftover hot ice, someone asked, “Another round of red beer?”

“Sí, claro.”

When my husband and I set out to recreate it two weeks later for the cookout, we began, as we often do, combing through food and recipe magazines to assemble the right mix of flavors and proportions. Some called Worcestershire, others Seasoning Maggi; Some preferred oyster juice over tomatoes. I caught some raindrops in Cholula, and others swear Tabasco or tabatio. Some covered the glass with salt, others with the wonderful Chilean salt, a tagine. Unlike before, we now know that while our spice options were endless, a light hand would yield the best red beer.

Cook’s Notes

If you season the mug with salt instead of a tagine, add an extra dash of both the hot sauce and Worcestershire.

Don’t feel limiting the flavors I’ve included. Substitute for your favorite hot sauce. Increase or decrease the lemon or tomato juice according to your taste. It helps to taste the concentrate at the bottom of the glass before adding the beer to make sure it is calibrated to your liking.


Casserole or coarse salt for the edge
1 wedge of thick lime
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 or 4 dashes of hot sauce (I like Tapatío)
Half a jaeger tomato juice
3 low dashes Worcestershire
1 light Mexican beer, such as Corona, Modelo, Pacífico or Tecate


  1. Shake a few teaspoons of tagine or salt in a flat dish or bowl. Rub a lime wedge along the rim of a pint glass and then dip the rim into a casserole or salt pan.
  2. Fill a pint of glass with ice. Add lemon juice, hot sauce, tomato juice and Worcestershire. Mix until combined.
  3. Fill the rest of the way with beer and garnish with lemon slices. Strain and repeat it a reasonable number of times.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *