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Welcome to Wonkette Happy Hour, With This Week's Cocktail, The Michelada!
Spicy, salty, fruity Mexican beer cocktails. De nada.
Greetings, Wonketteers! I’m Hooper, your bartender. Last week, someone encouraged me to relax a little bit for the summer. “Stop making such fussy, complicated cocktails! Just pop open a beer!” So I did that. And then, I did a little research. And I found a great recipe for the best beer cocktail of all time. Let’s make some micheladas . Here’s the recipe.
1 bottle light Mexican lager (Corona Light, Modelo, et al.)
2 oz fresh lime juice
½ oz Tapatio hot sauce
½ oz Worcestershire sauce
Tajin chile lime powder
Run a lime wedge over the top third of a pint glass. Roll the rim of the glass in a 50/50 mix of sea salt and chile lime powder until well coated. Add the lime juice, hot sauce, and lime to the pint glass. Stir gently. Add ice and top with Mexican lager. Add more lager to the glass as you drink.
There isn’t much history behind the michelada (“My cold beer” in Spanish). The romantic version involves El General Don Augusto Michel ordering tasty drinks for his soldiers after a hard day of liberating Mexico, providing beer and hot sauce and lime juice for the heroic freedom fighters. Really, it’s just a generic name for cold beer with stuff in it. And by “stuff” we mean “just about anything.” There’s a glorious show on Netflix right now called “Heavenly Bites: Mexico” that covers the michelada in depth. It’s mind-blowing. Beer served in a blender jar covered with syrup and topped with gummi bears … well, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s wildly entertaining, totally hilarious, somewhat heartwarming, and marginally indigestion inducing. Go watch it.
I’m providing a rather minimalistic approach to the michelada today. A fair number of michelada recipes call for Clamato. But I’m sticking with the basic ingredients needed for a michelada in its purest form: Beer, ice, lime juice, hot sauce, and Worcestershire. America tends to think of beer as something that doesn’t need to be adulterated. But much like sangria and wine, an average beer can become amazing with fruit juice and the right spices. In the case of beer, taking it in a salty, spicy direction is pure magic. And the ice makes certain that the last sip is just as cold as the first one. It’s a wonderful drink, well worth trying.
Let’s talk ingredients:
Ingredient shot. The michelada disappeared faster than a hyperkinetic rodent after this photo was taken. Matthew Hooper
Light Mexican beer: Corona Light is easy to find and works well. Modelo and Pacifico Clara also taste great. A light beer is probably the way to go. Light beer is pretty bland by itself, but it has room for lime juice and hot sauce flavor. A more robust beer might not harmonize as well. If you really love Modelo Negro, by all means give it a try. There are no rules, just guidelines.
Fresh lime juice: Fresh lime juice and Mexican beer go together very, very well. Just running a lime over the rim of your beer bottle is criminally frugal. A huge hit of lime juice — two whole limes' worth — is far better. If you can’t get behind hot sauce in your beer, just dump in the lime juice and skip everything else in this recipe. Lime juice and beer iscalled a “chelada.” It’s a drink in its own right, and you owe it to yourself to try it.
Tapatio Hot Sauce: I like this sauce as a starting point. It’s fruity and peppery, and finishes with strong but not overwhelming heat. In the michelada, it will make your lips tingle but not burn your throat. Feel free to experiment. Tabasco or sriracha would be nice here. Texas Pete or Franks might be too simple. If you’re using a dark beer like Modelo Negro, chipotle might be interesting.
Worcestershire Sauce: The Worcestershire is here for the umami. Umami’ssomething between a flavor and a texture . It provides body, thickness, and richness. I describe it as something like beef broth or soy sauce, without actually tasting like those things. It’s needed here to provide heft to light beer that will steadily dilute as the ice melts. Soy sauce or fish sauce also work.
Tajin: Tajin is a spice, salt and lime seasoning . It’s delicious on fresh fruit, especially watermelon. Here on the rim of the glass, it gives a beautiful little spice and salt finish to the beer. Use a 50/50 mix of salt and Tajin to coat the glass. The michelada should be salty in a way that reminds you of a bag of pretzels, so be generous with the salt coating.
Preparation: If you’re making this for guests, a pretty rim coating matters. I would rim the glass and set it into the fridge to set. Mix the hot sauce, Worcestershire, and lime juice in a small glass. Then pour the sauces, ice, and beer into the pint glass, in that order. Give the beer a quick stir to combine everything, and you’re ready to go.
If you’re making this for a backyard party, don’t sweat the presentation. Fill a red Solo cup with ice. Pour in the beer, and top with the sauces, Tajin, and salt. You’re ready to go.
You will discover that you can't fit the entire glass of beer into your pint glass along with the ice and the sauces. Not a problem. Keep adding beer to your glass as you go. Everything will work out in the end. Enjoy a salty, cold, spicy summer. Drink enough of these, and everything will be fine.
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