How to mix an authentic Mexican Clamato beer cocktail + related useful tid bits.
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Read on for step-by-step pictures, ingredients detail and to understand the origins of the popular Mexican drink (2 mins).
What is a Clamato Beer?
In other words the Clamato beer is a Clamato Michelada – delicious, spicy and refreshing.
The names Clamato con Cerveza, Clamato con Chela, Clamato Michelada and Michelada con Clamato are used interchangeably in different parts of Mexico and all refer to the same beer cocktail.
Just What is Clamato Juice?
Mexican clamato juice is a briny drink which blends clam broth and tomato juice – hence its name cla
m + tomato=clamato.
The original Clamato drink was invented in Baja, California. The story goes that one morning a patron of the Acueducto bar of hotel Lucerne in Mexicali mixed ice cold tomato juice with the broth of cooked red abalone. He was after the briny salinity of the broth in an effort to remedy the effects of liberal drinking. The red abalone molusk was a popular bar snack and the tomato drink with its juice gained traction fast and became known as a mata crudas.
It so happened that the price of the red abalone sea snails went up significantly and clam juice began to be used as a substitute. The clamato name stuck with the elixir but was not registered as a trademark. The drink’s fame spread north, far and wide.
In 1935 a “clam and tomato juice in combination” product was commercially produced in New York. Later on in 1940 an Atlantic City restaurateur, Harry Kachney, was granted a trade mark for canned Clamato juice his establishment served. In 1957 McCormick & Company, Inc. acquired the trademark for a seasoned blend of tomato and clam juice.
Finally, Mott’s concocted their own version of Clamato juice to resemble the flavors of a New England style clam chowder and registered a trade mark for the commercially sold Clamato juice that has dominated the market since.
NOTE: Mott’s Clamato as per the label that adorns it, is loaded with corn syrup, artificial coloring, MSG and preservatives. If you would rather avoid consuming a drink boasting this specific ingredient line up you can easily mix your own clamato.
How to Make Clamato Juice
Choose a good quality tomato juice (without corn syrup, artificial coloring etc.) and natural clam broth or use the clam juice from a can of clams in juice. The better option is to get a bottle of clam juice simply because there is more of it.
For homemade clamato juice the ideal ratio is between 2:1 and 3:1 of tomato juice to clam juice, depending on how potent the flavor of the clam juice is.
That being said, start with less clam juice (the 3:1 ratio), taste and then add a bit more if needed.
Mix the two juices together and you will have authentic clamato juice – just as they first made it in Mexicali.
Optional: you can add a dash or two of Worcestershire, hot sauce, pepper, salt, onion powder, but then you’d be approximating the Mott’s commercial version and not the original clamato. It is up to you.
Clamato Beer Ingredients
To make Clamato beer you will need clamato juice (we recommend the homemade version) plus all the ingredients for Michelada.
- Clamato juice. Must be ice cold as the temperature affects the overall flavor of the drink.
- Limes. For freshly squeezed lime juice and a wedge to garnish the cocktail if desired.
- Chili lime seasoning. The Mexican brand of choice, Tajin is widely available in the US, so are multiple other brands. Used to rim the glass and to flavor the drink.
- Sauces. Maggi sauce, Worcestershire and hot sauce such as Tabasco are classic for mixing a Michelada.
- Beer. Usually a dark Mexican lager (cerveza oscura) in the style of Vienna lager is used. Dos Equis, Victoria and Negra Modelo are popular choices. The beer must be very cold.
- Ice. As many cubes as you need but not to the extent of most cocktails, watering down the drink is not the goal.
- Optional ingredients include:
- Chopped or minced clams. In some areas of Mexico they get added to the drink itself.
- Shrimp. Clamato with beer and shrimp is a popular offering in Mexican bars.
- Celery stick. To use as garnish.
Step-by-Step How to Make Clamato Beer
- If you will be using homemade clamato juice, mix it first.
- Run a wedge of lime along the rim of a pint glass and dip it into chili lime seasoning (#2 and #3).
- Add freshly squeezed lime juice, Clamato juice and the picante Michelada sauces – Maggi, Worcestershire and Tabasco. Stir to mix.
- Add a bit of chile lime seasoning to the mix and if using – chopped clams.
- Stir well and add the dark Mexican lager, then a few ice cubes and stir again.
- If you will be making a seafood skewer to garnish the Clamato beer roll the cooked shrimp etc. into the chili lime seasoning, then assemble.
Clamato Beer with Shrimp (Clamato con Cerveza y Camarones)
Adding a bit of chilled, cooked shrimp and a stick of celery turns the Clamato beer cocktail into a refreshing snack.
Other cold cooked shellfish or molusks such as crab, lobster, scallops, clams, abalone can also be skewered to accompany a Clamato beer.
Other Clamato Cocktails
Clamato is so delicious that besides its namesake beer cocktail many other mixed drinks use it as a central ingredient. For example Canada has a cocktail called Caesar with clamato juice – it is very similar to Bloody Mary. And a Clamato Bloody Mary is a brinier version of the classic.
Beer with clamato and a shot of tequila (or vodka) and sometimes raw egg yolk is known as Ojo Rojo.
TIP: According to our Mexican neighbors and friends there is no better remedy for the discomforts of a night out than a large glass of beer with clamato and a couple of barbacoa tacos (a typical morning street taco).
TIP 2: Try our Spicy Shrimp Clamato recipe. All the flavors of this cocktail are incorporated in it and it is a breeze to make.
2. Run a wedge of lime around the rim of a pint glass and dip it in chili lime seasoning (Tajin or other). 3. Add freshly squeezed lime juice (using a citrus squeezer recommended). 4. Add clamato juice, the Maggi liquid seasoning, Worcestershire, Tabasco, pinch of chili lime seasoning and if using chopped/minced clams. Stir to mix. 5. Top with dark Mexican lager, add a few ice cubes and stir again. Garnish with lime wedge, celery stick of chilled, cocktail style seafood. Enjoy! Use a pint or a bit larger glass. *Commercially sold Clamato is loaded with high fructose corn syrup, MSG and artificial coloring. To avoid that consult the body of the post on how to mix your own homemade clamato. A small quantity of minced clams are sometimes added to the drink. Garnishes such as lime wedge, celery stick and/or shrimp skewer are common additions to beer with clamato. Calories are based on using Dos Equis Ambar Vienna lager which has ABV 4.7%.
Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 172Sodium: 599mgCarbohydrates: 18g
2. Run a wedge of lime around the rim of a pint glass and dip it in chili lime seasoning (Tajin or other).
3. Add freshly squeezed lime juice (using a citrus squeezer recommended).
4. Add clamato juice, the Maggi liquid seasoning, Worcestershire, Tabasco, pinch of chili lime seasoning and if using chopped/minced clams. Stir to mix.
5. Top with dark Mexican lager, add a few ice cubes and stir again. Garnish with lime wedge, celery stick of chilled, cocktail style seafood. Enjoy!
Use a pint or a bit larger glass.
*Commercially sold Clamato is loaded with high fructose corn syrup, MSG and artificial coloring. To avoid that consult the body of the post on how to mix your own homemade clamato.
A small quantity of minced clams are sometimes added to the drink. Garnishes such as lime wedge, celery stick and/or shrimp skewer are common additions to beer with clamato.
Calories are based on using Dos Equis Ambar Vienna lager which has ABV 4.7%.