Learn how to mix an authentic Michelada drink with a few easy to find ingredients.
Go straight to the Recipe Card or read on to understand exactly what the Michelada is, its origins, how to make it and what the most popular variations are (2 min read).
What is Michelada?
The Michelada is a spicy, intensely flavored, refreshing Mexican beer drink.
It is also popular in other Latin American countries such as Chile and Colombia.
In Mexico people often refer to it as a cerveza preparada (prepared beer) on account of the Michelada preparacion, which is the mix of ingredients being added to the beer. They include lime juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and seasonings.
The flavor of a Michelada should be rich and the beer carbonation should be noticeable.
The Michelada builds on the Chelada drink in that it is spiked with lime juice and salt, but adds the picante ingredients which account for its intense flavor. The explanations of its exact origin are invariably credited to a man named Michel who lived in a town called San Luis Potosi.
Who was Michel?
One story claims that he was a military general during the Mexican Revolution of 1910. Don Augusto Michel had a habit of frequenting a certain cantina in San Luis Potosi where he ordered his chela (cold beer) with lime juice, salt and a bit of hot sauce.
Another even more popular story says that a civil engineer named Michel Esper Jorge invented the drink. He had a hangover before an early tennis match at the Club Deportivo Potosino and walked up to the bar and asked the bar tender for a beer, ice, lime juice, a few salsas and salt.
He doctored up a cold, picante beer mix and drank it pretty fast. When the bartender asked him what kind of a chelada that was he said “Michelada”.
Authentic Michelada Ingredients
Chili Lime Salt. The most popular brand in Mexico is Tajin. You can use an equivalent salt mix as long as it is a bit spicy and a bit tart. It is used both to rim the glass and to flavor the drink.
Lime juice. Freshly squeezed, from chilled fruit.
Maggi seasoning. This liquid seasoning is usually sold in the Latin or Asian sauces and spices sections of most grocery stores. Its flavor is a combination of salty and umami and gives the beer drink a lot of depth. Substitute with soy sauce if you cannot find it.
Worcestershire sauce. In Mexico it is known as salsa Ingles (English sauce).
Hot sauce. Salsa Tabasco is popular choice but we also like it with Cholula.
Beer. You can use either light or dark Mexican lager, but most recipes call for cerveza obscura (amber beer in the style of Vienna lager). Dos Equis, Negra Modelo and Victoria are suitable brands and their caramel notes work very well with the rest of the ingredients. If you are looking to mix a Michelada with craft beer go for flavorful Vienna lagers.
Ice. Only a few cubes.
How to Make a Michelada Beer
- To make the Michelada first wet the rim of a glass with a lime and dip in a dish with chile lime salt (#1 and #2 above).
- Next add the freshly squeezed lime juice, the Maggi seasoning, Worcestershire, Tabasco and a bit of chili lime salt.
TIP: A high-quality citrus squeezer is very helpful for juicing the limes, especially if you are making several drinks at the same time. We were provided the one in the pictures by Zulay Kitchen and really enjoyed its performance.
- Stir the Michelada preparacion ingredients (#8 below) then fill the glass with dark beer being careful not to make contact with the salt rim.
- Stir the entire drink, add a couple of ice cubes and enjoy!
What does Michelada Taste Like?
For many the flavors in a Michelada are strictly an acquired taste but I’d say if you haven’t had one you are missing out. It tastes wonderfully complex, yet light. Much better than a Bloody Mary.
It is refreshing, picante and umami, a bit salty, a bit tart, with wonderful malty notes from the amber lager. You just have to try it for yourself.
Pre-mixed cans of Michelada, Michelada mixes and Michelada cups are widely available for purchase but in our opinion all fall short of mixing your own Michelada beer with the actual ingredients that made it famous.
Michelada vs Clamato
While the primary difference between Chelada and Michelada is the addition of spices, the Michelada combined with yet another ingredient becomes a new drink altogether.
Known as Michelada con Clamato, Clamato con Chela or just Clamato the variation drink is simply a Michelada prepared beer with clamato juice.
Alternatively you can substitute tomato juice with a bit of clam juice for store-bought clamato. Some people actually add minced clams into the drink itself and others garnish it with shrimp to create a veritable shrimp cocktail.
Outside the clamato themed variations of Michelada described above there are numerous others that truly transform the original beer cocktail.
Some of them are outright on the sweet side and the combination of spice, acidity, fruitiness and crisp lager is not to miss!
Michelada de Mango. Mixed with 1/2 cup mango nectar, 12 oz light beer (cerveza clara), salt and pepper to taste or a pinch of Tajin, juice of 1 lime, couple of dashes of Chamoy sauce (pickled fruit sauce).
Michelada de Maracuyá. Mixed with 1/2 cup passion fruit juice (juego de maracuya), 12 oz light lager (cerveza clara), 1 dash of hot sauce, juice of 1/2 lime, sugar, salt and pepper to taste, 3 ice cubes and garnished with mint.
Michelada de Tamarinda. For this version no lime is used. Instead tart tamarind juice or paste, hot sauce, Worcestershire, soy sauce, salt and pepper are blended with a bit of ice, transferred to a salt rimmed glass and topped with beer.
Michelada Chilena. This version is prepared with merken, a smoked chili spice very common in Chile and fresh, finely diced green or red chili peppers. After the glass is rimmed with salt and merken, the juice of 1 lime, salt, black pepper and merken to taste are added, then the fine diced peppers and finally a cerveza rubia (light lager) and a couple of ice cubes.
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- Tajin seasoning or chili lime salt (enough to rim the glass and a pinch to flavor the drink)
- 1 1/2 limes juice of, about 1.5 oz
- Maggi liquid seasoning, 2 dashes
- Worcestershire sauce, 4 dashes
- Tabasco or other hot sauce, 2 dashes
- 12 oz Mexican lager, dark recommended
- Wet the edge of a pint glass with lime and dip it into a plate with Tajin or other chili lime salt to create a nice salt rim.
- Squeeze lime juice into the glass using a citrus squeezer, add the Maggi, Worcetershire, Tabasco and a bit of Tajin or chili lime salt. Stir well.
- Pour the Mexican lager and be careful not to have it make contact with the salted rim so it does not fizz up excessively and overflow. Stir.
- Add a couple of ice cubes and enjoy!
Calories are based on using Dos Equis Ambar Vienna lager which has ABV 4.7%.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 151 Total Fat: 0g Saturated Fat: 0g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 452mg Carbohydrates: 14g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 8g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 4g