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Micheladas: A Primer and Recipe

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Photo: ohsarahrose/Flickr/Creative Commons License


Micheladas have taken United States beer drinkers by storm, with macro breweries like Anheuser-Busch ("Chelada"), Miller Brewing ("Miller Chill") and Heineken (Tecate's "Michelada") launching ready-to-drink renditions of Mexico's famous savory beer cocktail. Some companies like Don Chelada and Beerchelok have came up with a just-add-beer concept, where a styrofoam cup comes with a packet of chile and spice michelada powder to add to any beer you want. Not to mention, an innovative pocket-sized portable michelada concentrate bottle that has been developed by Los Angeles' very own Guelaguetza.

For the uninitiated, a michelada is a Mexican spicy beer cocktail typically made with Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, Maggi sauce, lime juice; the glass is rimmed with salt and chile powder. But this is just a base flavor, since there are regional ingredient differences all around Mexico. For example, you can find huge michelada-filled frosty mugs spiked with a handful of plump shrimp or oysters in Puerto Vallarta, and one with chilled beef stock in Guadalajara; to even one made with fruit-flavored syrups and gummi bears in some Mexico City bars. To clarify, a michelada is different than a chelada in the sense that the latter only has lime and salt added, no spices. Also, though L.A.'s appropriation of the michelada has somehow involved adding tomato cocktail to the drink as well, that is not a very common ingredient in Mexico.

Since most Mexican beers are very light and neutrally flavored, a michelada comes naturally. If most Mexican food is spicy and highly seasoned, why not have your beer spicy, savory, and highly seasoned too? As you can imagine, micheladas pair amazingly with dishes like tacos, tortas, and ceviche. It is traditionally drunk throughout the day ... but more often it is the drink of choice on the morning after a long night of drinking.

Here is a precise recipe to get you started, courtesy of Cesár de La Torre, a native of Puerto Vallarta who takes his micheladas very, very seriously. Since the measurements for each ingredient is minuscule, he's developed a time-based recipe -- read on to find out more.

"Awesome" Time-Based Michelada Recipe
According to de La Torre, "the magic of this recipe is that the amount of most of the ingredients are not counted in specific grams or teaspoons, but in seconds. With time, you'll learn to 'feel it,' to the point where you know exactly how much to use. However you will have to try it a couple of times (yeah!) and come up with your own measurements that better suit your taste buds."

Makes one

Tajin Mexican Chile Powder (ground chile peppers and dehydrated lime juice)
Worcestershire Sauce (preferably Lea & Perrins)
Huichol Mexican Hot Sauce (can be replaced with Valentina or another similar liquid chili sauce)
Tabasco Sauce
3 Limes
Maggi Seasoning Sauce
Soy Sauce
Your favorite lager or pilsener beer (also works with dark Mexican beers like Negra Modelo and Indio)

Frost a beer mug or any glass with salt. Then, start with the dry ingredients. Pour salt from a shaker for approximately seven seconds. The salt should create a thin layer at the bottom of the glass -- thin enough that if you shake it you can see the bottom of the glass. If it is too dense, then you used too much. Do the same with the Chile Tajin for 10 seconds -- the layer of Tajin should be thicker than the salt.

Now follow with the liquids. Start with the Huichol hot sauce, followed by Tabasco. You should spend approximately 7 seconds shaking each bottle into the cup. Then pour some Maggi sauce for about 10 seconds. Follow with the Worcestershire sauce for 7 seconds. Add soy sauce to taste. The amount of soy sauce should never be greater than the Worcestershire sauce. And last but not least, add the juice of three limes.

Mix the ingredients around until a sauce-like mixture is achieved. Otherwise, the dry salt will create a lot of foam, and we don't want that. Pour your chilled beer at a 45° angle, lightly mix and enjoy.

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