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What Is Michelada?

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  • Written By: Dan Harkins
  • Edited By: Kaci Lane Hindman
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2016
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Many Latin Americans take ordinary beer a step forward with a cerveza cocktail known as michelada. Into the beer goes not just some lime squeezings, heat-building spices and a little salt and pepper, but also Worcestershire sauce and tomato juice or the well-regarded Clamato® blend of tomato juice, clam stock and sugar. This concoction is used as an impromptu hangover cure in parts of Mexico and other Hispanic countries as well as an effective way to make low-quality beer taste delicious.

This cocktail is popular in the hotter months of the year but particularly on Cinco de Mayo, the day celebrating Mexican independence from the French. Many believe the word michelada derives from the Spanish expression "mi chela helado," which means "my chilled blond." This latter term is how many Latin Americans refer to light beer. Others contest that the exact origin of the name is lost to history.

Michelada is made in a range of ways/ This is particularly true in 2011 as several companies have begun to market their own brands of the drink for sale in cans and bottles. The recipe at the official Clamato® Web site blends 1 oz. of Clamato® in an ice-filled shaker with the juice of one small lime, and a dash each of Worcestershire and pepper sauce like Tabasco®.

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A 12-oz. beer can then be poured over the tomato and lime juice mixture in the shaker. While the carbonation subsides in the shaker, the rim of a pint glass is dipped in lime juice and then a blend of chili powder, salt and oregano. The drink is then poured into the glass and garnished with a wedge of lime. Some make the drink spicier by adding more pepper sauce and even some chili powder or black pepper. For more of a kick, a shot of tequila or vodka would not be unusual.

Beer companies in 2011, seeing how more customers are accepting the use of lime and even salt in their beers, are starting to mix it up even more. A MicheMix® beer produced a the Mexican company called Compañía Alimenticia del Norte started hitting American shelves in the 21st century. Conversely, American beer companies started making michelada cocktails and selling them in pop-top cans. Anheuser-Busch makes a Chelada® with both Budweiser® and Bud Light®. The company's recipe is close to the standard michelada treatment, containing Clamato®, lime and salt to let customers add spiciness via their own bottles of hot sauce.

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