“Good friends and good Micheladas are the keys to happiness,” says Fernando Lopez, co-owner of Guelaguetza Restaurant in Los Angeles and creator of the I Love Micheladas mix.
Finding either can be difficult, however, so VinePair asked bartenders to explain the best ways to make excellent Micheladas at home. (Developing healthy friendships is also important, though perhaps best suited to another column.)
All bar professionals agree that the caliber and temperature of the beer for your Michelada matter, as does how you envision the cocktail. Some Americans hear “Michelada” and picture a beer cocktail made with spiced tomato juice, whereas a classic version of the Mexican original consists of cold beer, ice, hot sauce, salt, and lime.
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Whichever interpretation you prefer, remember that Micheladas are all about refreshment. A well-made version can’t guarantee eternal happiness, but it’s certainly not a bad place to start.
What to do when making Micheladas
Start with a light, easy-drinking beer.
“You want the beer to be light and ‘crushable,’” Claudette Zepeda, chef-owner, El Jardín, San Diego, says. “A Michelada is meant to be a daytime patio cocktail. IPAs are a big no-no — you want the spice, the ice, and everything nice.”
A Mexican lager like Corona, Pacifico, or Dos Equis is ideal, says Chris Mann, general manager, Distrito, Philadelphia. “Try to stay away from heavier and stronger-flavored beers,” he suggests.
Serve it as cold as possible.
Micheladas are meant to be refreshing, so you want your beer (and glass if you’re using one) to be well-chilled. “If your beer isn’t ice-cold, it is fine to add ice to your drink,” Mann says.
Tailor your flavors.
Lopez suggests over-seasoning a mostly full glass of beer with your preferred mix of hot sauce, spices, and citrus juice. If it winds up tasting unbalanced or overwhelms your palate, you can simply add more beer to mellow things out. “Don’t be scared to experiment! Sometimes you don’t know what you like until you try it,” he says.
Season your salt.
The same thing goes for the salted rim, which can be as straightforward or spiced as you want. “If you’d like an added kick you can mix in some chile powder with the salt,” suggests Mann, while Zepeda prefers a different blend. “A rim of Chamoy, salt, and Tajin always does the trick,” she says.
What not to do when making Micheladas
Don’t make a Bloody Mary.
“Many recipes call for Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, or maggi sauce,” Mann says. Although untraditional, these three ingredients can certainly create a tasty cocktail. “However, be very careful with the amount you use,” Mann says. “I’ve tasted numerous Micheladas that were just way overpowered by these ingredients.”
The same goes for tomato or Clamato juice, both of which pop up on restaurant Micheladas and in prepackaged mixes. “A lot of other companies will just rebrand their Bloody Mary mix and call it a Michelada mix,” Lopez warns. “That’s the best way to get bland Micheladas.”