When it comes to Micheladas, start with beer, lime and salt

By Rebekah Peppler, The New York Times

A classic Mexican beer-based cocktail, the deeply chilled, lightly effervescent Michelada is easy and refreshing to drink. Its defined form, however, is a bit more complicated, inspiring intense debate as to what is and isn’t included in the final glass.

“The definition of a Michelada will change depending on where in Mexico or where in the world you ask,” said Sofía Acuña, an owner of Dooriban and Moa in Mexico City.

For some, a Michelada — or Chelada, depending on where in Mexico you are, and again, who you ask — is “just the mix of beer, lime juice and salt,” Acuña said.

The name comes from “mi chela helada,” approximately “my cold beer” in English. A light Mexican lager, such as Tecate, Corona, Pacifico, Carta Blanca, Sol or Modelo, is the classic choice for that cold beer, letting the flavors shine.

Beyond that, the drink’s final formula is more pliable, generating strong opinions and heated discussion over how, exactly, it is made. The most common additions can include but are not limited to: a dash of Worcestershire sauce (or salsa inglesa), a few — or many — drops of hot sauce and Maggi seasoning (which Acuña would call a Cubana), and splashes of Clamato or tomato juice, or both (some, she notes, would call that an Ojo Rojo).

And modern interpretations expand the choice of condiments to kaleidoscopic.

“Before everyone was aiming for the best classic Michelada, using the same ingredients, just with different amounts,” Acuña said. “Now, people are open to experimenting, but there’s always something acidic, something spicy, something salty.”

Switch out lime juice for another citrus, such as lemon, or even a tart dry vinegar. The Michelada at Ticuchi in Mexico City, designed by Yana Volfson, a partner, makes use of both fresh yuzu juice and a yuzu kosho made with chile de agua. When making Micheladas at home, Yola Jiménez, the founder of Yola Mezcal, often adds slices of fresh serrano pepper or jalapeño to her drink for spice. (A drizzle of Sriracha or a crack of black pepper work, too.)

For salinity, incorporate a splash of soy sauce, olive juice or pickled jalapeño brine. At Dooriban, Acuña uses kimchi juice in place of Clamato to make a Kimchelada. A Michelada can also be fortified with a boozy spirit. Scarlett Lindeman, the owner of Ojo Rojo Diner in Mexico City, punches up the base of her chipotle-spiked Ojo Rojo with a shot of mezcal.

As for the rim, lime and salt is classic, and Tajín, a chile-lime salt, is also popular. Acuña has also seen variations with cilantro or celery salts. (Her Kimchelada has a gochugaru and salt rim.) Sometimes, the rim is dipped not in lime juice but in chamoy, a sour-sweet condiment traditionally made from fermented fruit, sugar, salt and chiles.

At Mari Gold in Mexico City, chef and co-owner Norma Listman drops a spoonful of a seasonal housemade chamoy in the glass before adding jamaica sal chaat, a blend of hibiscus, black salt and amchur, to the rim.

And no matter where you fall on the Michelada spectrum, make sure the drink is imbibed ice-cold. Start by pouring it directly over ice. If you have the time and space, double down and chill your glasses in the freezer for an hour or two — mugs, beer glasses or taller, wider glassware work best here — before making and serving to added frosty effect.

Or skip straight to the good part and make your Michelada right in an ice-cold beer can.

“In the end, for me, a Michelada is a mix of ingredients with a beer that will taste delicious,” Acuña said. “It can be so simple with just lime juice and salt, or a lot more complex if you start adding sauces and spiciness.”

Whatever you add — or don’t add — to your Michelada start with the constants: beer, lime, salt. The end result will define your ideal Michelada.


A classic Michelada means different things to different people, but its core ingredients remain constant: cold beer, lime, salt. Serve the beer-based cocktail as is, over ice, in a chilled glass rimmed with salt or adapt from there to your preferred Michelada by adding a litany of condiments such as: Worcestershire sauce (or salsa inglesa), hot sauce, Maggi seasoning, and Clamato or tomato juice, or both. If you like, switch out the salt rim for a Tajín rim.

By Rebekah Peppler

Yield: 1 drink

Total time: 5 minutes


  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lime wedge
  • Ice
  • 1 to 2 ounces fresh lime juice
  • 12 ounces very cold Mexican lager, such as Corona, Pacifico, Carta Blanca, Sol, Tecate or Modelo


1. Prepare the salted rim: In a small shallow bowl or plate, sprinkle a thin layer of the salt. Run the lime wedge along the rim of a chilled beer glass or mug, then dip the rim into the salt mixture, tapping off any excess. Add ice to the glass then pour in the lime juice, add a small pinch of salt and top with beer. Serve any remaining beer on the side.


You can serve as is or add one or many condiments to your Michelada such as: Worcestershire sauce (or salsa inglesa), hot sauce, Maggi seasoning, or Clamato or tomato juice (or both) to create your preferred drink. If you like, switch out the salt rim for one rimmed with Tajín.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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