Recipes

A Sweltering Summer Secret: Mi Chelada Es Su Chelada

A Sweltering Summer Secret: Mi Chelada Es Su Chelada

Nearly 10 years ago, I visited the Yucatán Peninsula for the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival and discovered a wonderful, refreshing drink they called the michelada.

It was a zippy cold cocktail of sour, savory and salty and umami flavors with brisk carbonation… just the thing for an afternoon of snorkeling, sunbathing and snacking on fresh fish tacos beside the sea.

I didn’t see another michelada until I moved to NYC and finally rediscovered them at Barrio Chino, where the staff poured micheladas just the way I remembered, not to mention making great Yucatán-style fish tacos.

But Barrio Chino is nearly always busy when I’m hankering for a michelada, so I learned to make them on my own.

Through much experimentation, I found that Clamato, a tomato-clam juice, makes a very balanced michelada. Unfortunately, Clamato is also made with high-fructose corn syrup — an additive that I actively try to avoid.

So go with Clamato if you can take the MSG and HFCS, or just use your favorite tomato juice. Standard V8 works fine and R.W. Knudsen also makes a nice vegetable blend without corn syrup, but their juice is pretty tart, so you may have to notch down the lime you’ll add to the michelada recipe to get the right flavor balance.

One more thing: this is a salty drink, which is perfect for those sweaty summer days, but maybe avoid serving it to friends with sodium-sensitive hypertension, okay?

My Michelada
A small bowl or dish of kosher salt (for salting the glass rim)
1/2 cup tomato juice
juice of 1 lime
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1 dash soy sauce
1-2 shakes of hot sauce or 1/2 tsp Sriracha sauce
1 bottle Lager beer: (Negra Modelo, Corona or Sol all work well) chilled

  1. Dampen the rim of the glass you intend to use (a pint glass is perfect) with water or lime juice, and dip the dampened rim into the bowl or dish of salt.
  2. Pour tomato juice, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and hot sauce into the glass and mix well.
  3. Add ice, if desired, and pour in the beer. The beer will froth in the glass, so pour slowly. You may not get the entire beer in the glass. This is fine. Sip your cocktail and pour in the rest of the beer when you have space.

A real michelada needs to be freshly prepared, and it has a flavor that’s somewhere between a Bloody Mary and a Corona with lime.

I somehow find it less appealing in the winter, when I’m looking for warm drinks and whiskey cocktails, but wait for a really sweltering hot, crushingly humid day and make yourself a michelada based on the recipe above. I think you’ll see the brilliance of this beverage.

Salud!

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