If pricey craft beer might be thought of as a steak, then a Mexican lager is a cheeseburger. And just as you wouldn’t pour ketchup over a dry-aged ribeye, you’d never think of dousing a Lambic sour with hot sauce. However, the light, fizzy lagers produced by Mexico’s macro breweries are fair game (and much like a cheeseburger, precisely what you want on a Sunday afternoon outdoors).
This brings us to the Michelada, the delightfully hard to define beer cocktail from south of the U.S. border. The drink is typically made with a Mexican lager (I’m partial to Pacífico or Modelo Especial), lime juice, tomato juice, and a variety of seasonings that always include hot sauce and at least one savoury element, such as Worcestershire sauce, Maggi, or even soy sauce.
As the Michelada is one of the least pretentious mixed drinks ever made, I prefer to keep it simple: ideally, you’re building it with whatever’s in the pantry to entertain friends, rather than running out to the store. To that measure, I’ve cut out tomato juice and kept the seasonings to generic hot sauce (though if you can get your hands on it, look for Valentina) and Worcestershire (soy sauce works in a pinch).
The simple drink is a masterclass in contrasts: refreshing lager and sharp hot sauce, acidic citrus and deeply savoury seasoning. For that reason, I believe it’s vital to get the garnishing right by slicking the rim of the glass with salt before adding a wedge of lime, to introduce one more degree of delicious deviancy between the drink’s disparate elements.
The recipe below is a bit abstract; while I recommend a baseline for seasonings, they’re meant to be added to taste. And if you find yourself going overboard with the Worcestershire sauce, you can always add a little more lime to even it out. And whatever you do, don’t think about it too much.
1 bottle Mexican lager
45ml fresh lime juice
2-4 dashes hot sauce
1-2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Salt, for rim
Lime wedge, for garnish
Salt the rim of a pint glass by first slicking its rim with a sliced lime, and then rotating it face-down over a small dish covered in salt. Afterward, fill glass with ice before adding lime juice and beer. Add hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce, then garnish with a single lime wedge.