The michelada is a spicy Mexican beer cocktail made with tomato juice, lime, and hot sauce! Light and refreshing, it’s got a salty, spiced rim.
If you’re not drinking micheladas: well then, you haven’t lived! The michelada is a spicy beer cocktail made with Mexican beer, tomato juice, lime juice and hot sauce. Consider it a sort of combination between a Bloody Mary and a beer margarita. The best part is the glass rim: a mix of Old Bay, chili powder and celery salt brings a salty, savory flair to the front end of this refreshing drink. The flavor is just right for lots of occasions, from summer afternoon drinks or a Mexican-themed brunch. Alex and I are over the moon for this newest addition to our cocktail collection…here’s how to make it!
What’s in a michelada?
A michelada is a cervesa preparada (“prepared beer” in Spanish), a Mexican drink of beer mixed with tomato juice, hot sauce or salsa. It’s served in a chilled glass with a chili powder and salt rim. Best guess is that it came to be in the 1960’s. There are all sorts of variations on it all over Mexico, so there’s no “official” recipe. But most versions of the michelada have similar ingredients. Here’s what’s in a michelada:
- Mexican lager beer
- Lime juice
- Salsa juice or tomato juice
- Worcestershire sauce
- Hot sauce (we like Cholula)
How to pronounce michelada? Mi-chay-lah-da. One theory on where the name came from: ordering “mi chela helada“, which means “my ice cold beer” in Spanish! But know one knows for sure.
The magic of salsa juice
Many versions of the michelada use tomato juice or even clamato juice. For our rendition, we used salsa juice! What’s that? Just place a few spoonfuls of salsa in a strainer and strain out the juice! You get a bit more flavor than just straight tomato juice. Of course: if tomato juice is easier for you, feel free to use that instead.
Our inspiration? The blender salsa recipe in our cookbook (Pretty Simple Cooking) had input from a chef at a traditional Mexican taquería in Miami called Taquiza. The recipe calls for letting the salsa sit in the fridge to let the flavors meld, then strain out the juice the accumulates. The chef at Taquiza told us this “salsa juice” is perfectly delicious and you can save it for making a michelada. After trying it ourselves, we were sold!
It’s all in the rim: the best michelada salt!
Now, the rim of a michelada is of ultimate importance! Just like a margarita just isn’t the same without a salt rim, so too this drink is not complete without it. (Trust me, I tasted it when I was feeling lazy once…just wasn’t the same.) Typically a michelada rim has at least chili powder and salt, but you can get creative too! Many people like to use tajín, a popular chili, lime and salt blend. Here’s what we used:
- Chili powder For tradition’s sake!
- Old Bay This American spice blend packs a powerful punch. Use purchased or homemade.
- Celery salt Celery salt brings additional nuance of flavor vs straight salt.
Make a statement with clear ice
If you like to really make your cocktails look stunning, try dressing this michelada up with clear ice! Clear ice is crystal clear ice that you can cut into large cubes: it looks just like what you’d get at a restaurant or fancy bar. Luckily: it’s easy to make at home! All you need is 24 hours and a small cooler. Here’s how to make clear ice.
When to serve a michelada
This michelada beer cocktail is light and festive. It’s great as a:Print
The Michelada is a spicy Mexican beer cocktail made with tomato juice, lime, and hot sauce! Light and refreshing, it’s got a salty, spiced rim.
- 12-ounce Mexican lager beer
- 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) lime juice
- 1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) salsa juice (strained from a jar of salsa) or tomato juice
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce (like Cholula)
- For the rim: 1 tablespoon Old Bay (purchased or homemade), 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon celery salt
- Ice, for serving (try clear ice!)
- On a plate, mix the Old Bay, chili powder and celery salt and spread it into an even layer. Cut a notch in a lime wedge, then run the lime around the rim of a glass. Dip the edge of the rim into a plate of seasonings.
- In the glass, stir together the lime juice, salsa juice (use a fine-mesh strainer to strain out salsa juice from a few spoonfuls of salsa), Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce.
- Fill the glass with ice. Top with the beer and stir gently.
- Category: Drink
- Method: Stirred
- Cuisine: Cocktails
More great Latin-style cocktails
Love the michelada? Here are a few more great Latin-style and Mexican cocktails to choose from:
- Paloma Combine tequila and grapefruit and you’ve got the classic Mexican paloma cocktail!
- Pisco Sour The magic meld of pisco and lime in this Peruvian sour gives it flavor like none other.
- Caiprinha Brazil’s national drink is uniquely refreshing! Made with cachaça and lime, it’s truly one of a kind.
- Classic Mojito Here’s a classic mojito recipe, perfectly balanced with lime, rum and fresh mint! This iconic Cuban cocktail is refreshing and just sweet enough.
- 15 Best Margarita Recipes Try all our best margaritas, from mezcal to jalapeno to strawberry.
- Ranch Water A Texas-style tequila highball drink made with lime, tequila and Topo Chico! This bubbly cocktail is all about cooling off on hot days.
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.