Micheladas: Beer with a Mexican Flavor
With either salt or chile on the rim of the glass, mixed with a tart juice and served very, very cold; the typical Mexican beer-based michelada is just the thing for hot weather. Serve it with Mexican food or for making the most of an evening with friends. Haven't you tried it yet?
Its refreshing flavor makes the michelada one of Mexico's most popular drinks.
Furthermore, it is light and very effective, since it not only quenches thirst but can also cure a hangover. People in Mexico tend to drink it in the afternoon, particularly in very hot climates. Creative combinations with mango, tamarind or watermelon pulp instead of the traditional lime juice are not uncommon in beach areas.
It's good before, during and after lunch. Mexicans often order a shot of tequila as an aperitif, and some of them like it with a michelada. As a hangover remedy, it is best to have it with Tajín on the rim of the glass and with hot sauce. (A powdered chile mixture, Tajín was first used in the state of Nuevo León). This version is known as petróleo (oil), due to its dark color.
For those thirstiest of times, there is nothing like the michelada that has lime, ice and fresh fruit. And for beer lovers with a sweet tooth, the beverage can be combined with grapefruit juice, horchata (a refreshing rice drink) and even sugar syrup. An excellent after-lunch option is a michelada along with café de olla (cinnamon-steeped coffee).
Different Versions of its Origin
The first michelada may well have been served in the Potosino Sports Club during the 1960s. Legend has it that after a tennis match, Esper Michel asked the barman for a beer with ice, lime and salt. Club members then started ordering Michel-style beer, thus christening it Michelada.
According to another version, the concoction comes from northern Mexico, where Americans tended to use lime to dilute the stronger flavor of Mexican beer. This may well be true, since Mexican barmen call the mixture “gringa”. They make another version by adding a few drops of Tabasco sauce to the beer and lime juice in a glass with a salty rim, giving the drink a spicy touch that many people love.
And just to add to the controversy about its origi, some people claim that the word michelada is a contraction of “mi chela helada” (my ice-cold beer), chela being a colloquial word for “beer” in Mexico.
Mr. Michel probably never imagined the number of different combinations that would evolve in time, thanks to the creativity of bartenders and the whims of their customers. This is how the gringa turned into a cubana and the cubana into a barba roja (red beard). There is also a version with tomato juice and oysters served in seafood establishments, with an occasional shrimp and even chipotle chile added for good measure.
Be it hot and spicy, with “petroleo”, fruit-flavored, with salt or Tajín, the michelada keeps evolving, gladdening hearts and refreshing palates.