Yes, it’s true. The first time I heard about a Michelada I thought: GROSS! A beer cocktail? Blech. Clamato? Ew!!!! But the moment I tried one—a good one, in San Pancho, Mexico—I was hooked. It was like a lighter version of a Bloody Mary, Mexican style. Just enough spice. And you don’t get wasted like you do after you drink a pint of vodka with a little tomato juice and pickled veg added. (Don’t get me wrong, I also really like Bloody Mary’s; in fact, Universal Café has an excellent one made with sake. And the bloody vodka bomb at Zeitgeist can’t be beat, if you are in the right, um, frame of mind.)
Let’s talk about Clamato. First of all, it doesn’t taste like fish, which is what I always thought. But then I tried it. It’s really just salty tomato juice. It’s actually quite good, especially in this concoction. But if you are still freaked out by that ingredient, just use tomato juice.
These are best served on a hot, hot day. Ideally when sitting on the beach.
A note on Maggi Seasoning: This umami flavor enhancer—like a dark brown soy sauce—is the “secret” ingredient in lots of yummy dishes, particularly Asian. It has an impassioned following, but it’s also loaded with sodium and MSG, so some folks might not be overly keen on using it. Maggi is traditional in Micheladas, but if you don’t have it, or don’t want to use it, I’ve given you quite a few alternatives. I used tamari, just because that’s what I had on hand.
Recipe: Spicy Micheladas
Makes about 8 beer cocktails
- 4 cups (32 oz) ice-cold Clamato or tomato juice
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
- 2 teaspoons your favorite hot sauce, such as Cholula (or as much as you want to amp up the spice!)
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Maggi Seasoning, Bragg’s liquid aminos, soy sauce, or tamari
- 3 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
- Lots of lime wedges (for the glasses and serving)
- Three 12-ounce bottles ice-cold Mexican lager, such as Pacifico
- In a large pitcher, whisk together the Clamato, lime juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire, and Maggi Seasoning.
- On a small plate, stir together the salt and chili powder. Rub the rims of 8 pint glasses with wedges of lime, then dip each one in the salt mixture.
- Fill the glasses with some ice, then fill about halfway with the Clamato mixture. Top with beer and a wedge of lime. (Stir the beer and Clamato mixture together before drinking.) Enjoy!