A tall, cold michelada is begging for your attention on Cinco de Mayo (photo courtesy Bohemia Beer).
 A chelada cup (photo courtesy Clamato).
July 12th is National Michelada Day. If you like beer and tabasco, it’s a drink you should try.
A michelada (mee-cha-LAH-da) is a traditional Mexican beer cocktail (“cerveza preparada,” in Spanish). It consists of beer, lime and hot sauce served over ice in a salt-rimmed glass.
The history of the michelada is below. Thanks to Bohemia Beer—one of our favorite Mexican beers—for these michelada recipes.
MICHELADA #1: CHIPOTLE MICHELADA
2 fresh lime wedges, cut in half
Chipotle rimming salt (recipe below)
1 tablespoon chipotle hot sauce (we use the Frontera brand) or 1 teaspoon puréed canned chipotles en adobo
6 ounces chilled Bohemia beer or other Mexican beer*
1 slice cucumber for garnish
*You can use any lager you have on hand, but Mexican beer celebrates the spirit of the holiday.
1. Use a piece of lime wedge to wet the rim of a tall glass. Dip the rim of the glass into the chipotle rimming salt.
2. Squeeze the juice from the remaining lime pieces into the glass and then add all the lime pieces. Stir in the chipotle hot sauce or puréed chipotles in adobo. Fill the glass with ice.
3. Pour in the beer. Mix gently. Garnish the glass rim with a notched cucumber slice. Serve.
Chipotle Rimming Salt Recipe
Thoroughly mix 2 tablespoons coarse (kosher or sea) salt and 1 tablespoon ground chipotle chile powder in a small bowl. Pour out onto a small plate to use for rimming beer glasses.
MICHELADA #2: CHELADA
Short for michelada, the chelada is a michelada variation with sauce, spices and chile. This version uses the fixings of a Bloody Mary.
3 ounces cold Mexican beer
3 ounces chilled tomato juice
Several dashes Worcestershire Sauce, Maggi Sauce† and hot sauce
Pour the ingredients into a tall glass filled with, ice and stir.
The Michelada dates to Mexico in the 1940s or early 1950, when ice cubes became commonly available in bars. There are two widely legends about the origin of the name, plus our third choice, the most likely version.
One story says that the Michelada was invented by a man named Michel Ésper at the Club Deportivo Potosino in San Luís Potosí, a town in east-central Mexico. He is said to have drunk his beer with lime, salt, ice and a straw, in a special cup called a chabela (photo #2). The members of the club started asking for beer as “Michel’s lemonade,” with the name shortening over time to michelada.
The next story claims that the drink was named after Mexican general Augusto Michel, also of San Luís Potosí. He reportedly liked to add chiles and a squeeze of lime to his beer. However, this story is known to have been made up by the sellers to “add mystique” to a product called MicheMix, a hot-sauce-and-lime seasoning in a Tabasco-like shaker bottle, used to flavor a Michelada [source].
The most likely derivation is the obvious: Chela is Latin-American slang for a blond, blue-eyed woman, and by extension a light beer. Helada means iced; thus, the contraction chelada means beer with ice. Add mi for “my iced beer.”
Just to split hairs, some Mexicans order beer on ice with lime juice and hot sauce added to the beer itself, and call it a Cubana.” The origin is unclear.
†Maggi Sauce, made by Nestlé, is a seasoning of salt, spices and pepper. The recipe varies around the world, based on local tastes. You can substitute soy sauce and freshly-ground pepper.