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Beer Cocktails, Part 1: The Michelada

Distinctive and delicious cocktails can be crafted with beer as the base ingredient. Mexico’s michelada, a “cerveza preparada” or prepared beer, is a fine example, tracing its popularity back over half a century. While its official origin is debated, the beverage has duplicated itself over time to envelop a variety of regional styles. The essential ingredients consist of beer (traditionally a lager), fresh lime juice, and a multitude of sauces (generally tomato or Clamato), spices, and peppers. Akin to the bloody mary, the michelada is a darling of brunch menus everywhere, widely considered to be a proper hangover remedy.

Micheladas make for excellent summertime cocktails, featuring the interplay of salty, sweet, tart, and umami elements. So how do we balance all these flavors? With a vast array of ingredients and preparations, it is important to be judicious with your portions. Remember, you can always add more spice or salt, you can’t easily take it away. With that in mind, we’ll guide you through basic preparation and then suggest a few France 44 variations on this classic beverage. Let’s dive in!

Standard Preparation:

  1. Chill glassware in the freezer ahead of time, preferably shaker pints.
  2. Assemble rim salt mix on a small plate. Sea salt or kosher salt preferred. Black pepper, Cajun salt, cayenne pepper, celery salt, smoked paprika, Tajin, etc. can be added into the mix for an extra kick. Careful!
  3. Run a lime wedge around each rim. Invert glass and salt the rim.
  4. Fill your glass halfway with ice. Combine your sauce, spice, and pepper mix in the glass, remember to be thoughtful! Top with your cerveza of choice. Stir.
  5. Enjoy!


The Classic Baja

  • Sea salt, dash of paprika for rim
  • 4 oz Clamato
  • 1 oz Lime Juice
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tsp Mexican hot sauce (Tapatio, Cholula, or Tabasco will all work – pick a favorite)
  • ½ tsp Maggi sauce (or soy sauce)
  • Black pepper, cocktail onions and lime wedge to garnish
  • 1 bottle Mexican Lager

If you would like to enjoy a crisp, light michelada, opt for something like Corona Extra, Modelo Especial, or Pacifico. Ska Brewing’s Mexican Logger is an especially tasty craft substitute. If you prefer a fuller body and soft caramelized undertone, go for Dos Equis Amber, Negra Modelo or Victoria Lager. Schell’s Firebrick is a great craft substitute for this style.

Castle Danger Summer Crush-a-lada

  • Kosher salt for rim
  • 1 oz lemon Juice
  • 1 oz orange Juice
  • ½ oz lime juice
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Mexican hot sauce (I prefer Tapatio)
  • Lemon wedge for garnish
  • 1 can of Castle Danger Summer Crush Ale

This lighter take on the michelada forgoes tomato juice and bolder spice in refreshing drinkability for those extra hot late summer days. Castle Danger’s Summer Crush is brewed with Sorachi Ace hops that give the beer a zingy lemon and pepper quality.

Dogfish SeaQuenchelada

  • Sea salt, dash of Old Bay seasoning for rim
  • 3-4 oz Clamato
  • 1 oz lime Juice
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp Mexican hot sauce (I prefer Cholula)
  • 1 sliver of jalapeno on top
  • Lime wedge for garnish
  • 1 can of Dogfish Head SeaQuench Sour Ale

WHAT?! A sour beer in a michelada?! We’re not as crazy as you would think. Dogfish Head’s SeaQuench Sour Ale is a threaded combination of a crisp Kolsch, a salty Gose, and a tart Berliner Weiss that is zested up with black limes, sour lime juice, and sea salt. It is unassumingly the near perfect brew for making micheladas. You’ll have to see for yourself.