easier to drink than say January 30, 2011

By now, we’re all familiar with the cocktail culture craze. Mixology is everywhere – from the fanciest restaurants charging $15 a drink to chain restaurants trying to get in on the action of gussying up their adult beverages. It’s trendy food lingo that’s worn out its welcome only slightly less than “farm to table”. Lost in all the hullabaloo of burnt orange peels, homemade fizz and eggy foams is a category of cocktails much neglected – the beer cocktail. Well known examples are few and far between – the Shandy, anyone? – but the one most folks might have heard of is the Michelada.

The folksy cousin of the Bloody Mary, the Michelada originates from Mexico. A cooling mix of fresh squeezed lime juice, savory seasoning and cold beer is all poured over ice – salt rim is optional and a lime wedge constitutes garnish. Since I consider myself a Bloody Mary connoisseur/addict, branching off to try Micheladas was an inevitability. They’re far more drinkable and refreshing than the standard brunch cocktail and some still swear by it as a “hair of the dog” elixir. Less boozy, just as flavorful and certainly appropriate later in the day – the Michelada is a drink recipe you should know.

Setting out to find great versions of this classic beer cocktail in Atlanta, I found they are a rarity. Versions can be found at El Rey Del Taco, No Mas Cantina and The Original El Taco. Each spot puts its own twist on the recipe – El Rey lets you add your own beer to a giant glass of tomato juice while No Mas combines their herbaceous bloody mary mix with the beer of your choice. They’re all delicious but one Michelada stole my heart. It’s the Michelada cubana (which traditionally lacks tomato juice)  at Bone Garden Cantina on the Westside. Mike, the bartender the day I went, was really knowledgeable about beer cocktails as a genre and makes a wicked Michelada – the perfect balance of spice, saltiness (which comes from the Maggi seasoning – an essential ingredient) and a generous amount of fresh citrus juice. You can pick your preferred beer to make your custom Michelada blend. They’re addictive here and the beer choices to mix and match with abound.

For those non-Atlanta folks that have had their curiosity piqued about this unusual beer cocktail, I’ve included a recipe for the make-at-home crowd. They’re super easy and great to make for a brunch or post Super Bowl crowd…and certainly less expensive than a pitcher of Bloody Marys for eight or ten. If my (extensive) Michelada research taught me anything, it’s this: Maggi seasoning is key – it gives your cocktails a savoriness that really shines. You can find it for cheap in the Latin or Asian sections of your local grocery store. Beyond that, make your recipe your own. Add Clamato for a more straightforward recipe or make cheladas, which are just salt & lime added to beer.

Michelada – makes one beer cocktail

  • 1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice – this is roughly the juice of one medium sized lime
  • 3 – 5 dashes of hot sauce – Valentina is great here but you can also use Cholula or Tabasco
  • 3 – 5 dashes Maggi seasoning
  • 3 – 5 dashes Worchestershire sauce
  • Ice cold Mexican beer of your choice – Negro Modelo, Modelo Especial, Pacifico and Tecate are all great choices

– If you want a salt rim, rub a lime wedge along the rim of your glass of choice and dip in a saucer of kosher salt to create the salt rim. Fill the glass with ice. Build the cocktail in the glass by pouring in the lime juice, hot sauce, Worchestershire sauce and Maggi seasoning. Top with beer to desired level. Stir gently and serve.


Cynthia (It All Changes) Jan 31, 2011 12:01 am

My senora made these for us all the time in Spain before we went out drinking. I thought it was interesting since I don’t like beer but loved these back then.

Dayle Moses Jan 31, 2011 03:01 am

how fabulous….would never have thought + would be great with mex food! Dayle

Lee Rosenthal Jan 31, 2011 07:01 am

I have a friend that would always order a beer with a bloody mary. The same idea, perhaps?

I’ve been meaning to check out Bone Garden Cantina. Maybe I’ll try their version.

Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table Jan 31, 2011 09:01 am

Finally a non-bloody bloody! Thank you on behalf of the tomato-juice haters. :)

I’ve make beer cocktails with a shot of tequila and a little soda + lime (salt optional). They are delish!

Phil Hughes Jan 31, 2011 12:01 pm

This is would be great for a Cinco de Mayo brunch, but I’m not going to wait that long. Should go well with SuperBowl snacks!

And worchestershire sauce is still within your pescatarian bounds!

Nicole Franzen Jan 31, 2011 11:01 pm

yum, love micheladas

spartangrrl Feb 1, 2011 03:02 pm

Oooh! Your cubana sounds like what I call a Chelada. I had Cheladas them CanCun and fell in love – salted rim, ice in a pint glass, juice from a large lime, fill with Mexican beer like Corona, Tecate or Sol. YUM.
On a side note, my local Mexican joint calls these Cerveza Preparada. I learned this the hard way in a hysterical broken Spanish conversation when I ordered a Chelada and then tried to explain I didn’t want tomato juice – solamente limon y sal.
It’s cold and snowy outside right now…I may have to go make one of these and think warm thoughts.

Regan Pence Feb 1, 2011 09:02 pm

This is good stuff. I remember doing things of this nature back in college. Now we have graduated to a mix of beer, tequila, and lemonade concentrate. It’s awsome in the summer, but don’t over endulge too much….it’ll send you packing.

Kim - Liv Life Feb 1, 2011 11:02 pm

MMM!! This has Super Bowl all over it!!!

doodles Feb 2, 2011 12:02 pm

I had this adult beverage 40 years ago while honeymoonug in Mexico. We might celebrate our 4oth by having this again. If I do I will mention you on my blog if that’s OK………….thanks for the reminder of a great memory!!

Justin Ide Feb 2, 2011 10:02 pm

Love the write up and your site is amazing. Just came across it and I know I’ll be back. Thanks for sharing.


Josh O Feb 6, 2011 09:02 am

I love Micheladas and I wish more places served them, thanks for the tip on Bone Garden Cantina, I will have to check them out!

ASG Feb 7, 2011 04:02 pm

What a brilliant idea! I’d never heard of this and can’t wait to try it. One warning, though: Worcestershire sauce is not strictly vegetarian (it has anchovies in it). There are lots of vegetarian substitutes which Googling can help you find in a jiff. Thanks for sharing!

tami Feb 7, 2011 04:02 pm

hi amber – thanks so much for the note! i was worried that i had tagged this post vegetarian once i saw your comment. thankfully, i had not. for those wanting to make these but avoid the Worchestershire sauce, you can just use extra Maggi, which has no animal products used in its making. Me being pescatarian, I could use the Worchestershire sauce. However, I prefer my Micheladas with just the Maggi seasoning in it, anyway. Thanks again!

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nohad bashour Jan 13, 2015 09:01 am

i can not find Worcestershire
sauce by what can i replaced it

Alberto Aug 30, 2015 01:08 am

I grew up on this stuff in Mexico. Thanks for sharing the great recipe. The best michelada closest to home for me is with modelo, fresh lime juice, and lava bloody mary mix. Perfect combo!