Michelada

The Michelada is a delicious, savory Mexican beer cocktail. Essentially a Bloody Mary made with beer, the Michelada is drink you don’t want to miss.

a michelada cocktail on a wood coaster

Years ago, my coworkers and I celebrated Beer Friday every week. We would take turns bringing in a brew to share with the team.

At “beer o’clock” on Fridays, whoever was still at the office would gather to crack open a cold one and begin the count down to the end of the day. It was a great way to try new beers.

One week, someone brought in cans of “Chelada with Clamato,” which is a brand of beer cocktail made with tomato and clam juice. I fell in love.

This beer is essentially a canned michelada, a beer cocktail that you can make yourself (and is so much better when you do make your own michelada).

What is a Michelada?

Pronounced “mee-chay-lah-duh” in Spanish, the michelada is often nicknamed the “Beer Bloody Mary,” and it’s a delicious one.

The classic Bloody Mary features vodka and tomato juice, while the Michelada is made with beer for the added alcohol.

Made with tomato juice, lime juice, hot sauce and a light Mexican beer, the Michelada is a fantastic savory cocktail from Mexico.

You may have seen Bud Light Chelada with Clamato in the beer aisle. It’s Anheuser-Busch’s brand-name michelada cocktail made with clamato juice, a mix of tomato juice and clam broth.

a michelada cocktail with a lime wedge garnish

Michelada recipe: A Mexican Bloody Mary

The michelada is tomato-based with a kick of spices, salt, lime and, of course, a cold beer.

Here, the beer acts as the primary alcoholic agent, the same way any alcohol does in any other cocktail recipe. It is a type of cerveza preparada, which means “prepared beer” and is essentially a beer cocktail.

Trust me on this one: Bloody Mary lovers everywhere should give this variation a try. (However, there’s no vodka in sight.)

This tomato juice cocktail is perfect for happy hour on a hot day or you can serve it up for Cinco de Mayo.

Bloody Mary rim salt on a black plate, ready to rim cocktails

Ingredients

To make a michelada, you only need a handful of ingredients. Here’s what to snag at the store:

Rim Salt

On the rim, it’s important to add some plan or flavored salt to impart extra salty flavor into this popular beer cocktail.

I like to whip up some Bloody Mary salt with salt, paprika, garlic powder and onion powder (and chili powder for extra spice if you like).

You can use salt like you would for a classic margarita. Even a mix of sea salt and black pepper will do the trick. Tajín (affiliate link) seasoning is another ingredient you can play with for the rim.

Tomato juice

Located in the juice aisle, tomato juice is what you’ll need to make the perfect michelada.

Use organic tomato juice if you can, but whatever you do, make sure to pick up on one that is 100% pure juice with no added sugar. This is a savory cocktail, so you don’t want your michelada to have any sweetness!

Lime juice

You will need fresh lime juice for this classic beer cocktail. About half a lime will be perfect for this drink. (Lemon juice will also work.)

When it comes to making any drink, fresh citrus juice is always going to have the best results. However, I do keep bottled concentrate in my fridge — it has saved me more than once!

top view of a michelada with an empty corona bottle and hot sauce

Mexican hot sauce

Hot sauce can be spicy, but you’re only using a few dashes per glass. It will dilute and mainly provide peppery flavor. You can skip it or you can add more to taste. Totally up to you.

Cholula, Tapatio and Valentino’s are common and well-loved Mexican hot sauces, so use your favorite.

I always have Cholula Hot Sauce in my pantry, so that’s what I used in this recipe. Melinda’s Garlic Habanero Hot Sauce is another one I love, though it’s on the spicier side.

Chamoy sauce is a sweet sauce of sweet dried apricots, spicy chile de árbol, salty Tajin seasoning and sour hibiscus flowers.

Condiments

Worcestershire sauce is my pick for some extra flavor, but feel free to use soy sauce, coconut aminos or a pinch of celery salt instead.

Worcestershire sauce is a fermented, all-purpose sauce made from vinegar and flavored with anchovies, molasses, tamarind, onion, garlic and other seasonings.

You can find it at any grocery store in the condiments aisle, or make your own vegan Worcestershire sauce.

Mexican beer

A light beer is the best beer for your michelada cocktail. Bonus, you can save your cerveza (beer) to make beer margaritas and beermosas too!

Corona, Modelo, Dos Equis, Pacifico and Tecate are common brands of Mexican lager you can find at most grocery stores, but any pilsner, lager or amber beer will do. The type of beer you use is up to you — feel free to use a craft beer or simply your favorite beer.

Dark Mexican beers can also work if you’d like to play with flavor.

Garnish

Bloody Marys are known for their creative garnishes like a celery stalk, bacon or olives. However, the classic michelada recipe is much more minimal.

For your garnish, simply place a lime wedge on the rim of the glass. (I always squeeze them into my cocktail for extra zesty citrus flavor.)

a corona pouring into a michelada cocktail

How to make a Michelada

Here’s how to make this Mexican Bloody Mary variation with beer:

  1. On a small, shallow plate or bowl, add your rim salt. Rub the rim of a highball or pint glass with the cut lime wedge, then roll the outside edge of the rim in the spicy salt mixture. (I used these beer can-shaped pint glasses.)
  2. Fill the glass with ice. Squeeze a lime wedge into the glass, and drop in the spent shell.
  3. Add the tomato juice, lime juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and a pinch of salt leftover from rimming the glass. Stir to mix.
  4. Slowly, pour the beer into the glass. (I find it is best to pour the beer from a few inches above the glass.) 
  5. Stir gently, then add your lime wedge. Serve immediately.
a plate of rim salt with a beer bloody mary

Variations and substitutions

Though this is a classic recipe, feel free to make your own version of the best michelada.

Spike it: If you’re feeling really brave, you can make a chavela, which is a michelada served with a shot of tequila either added to the drink or served on the side. (I recommend my jalapeño tequila for some extra spice.)

Use Clamato juice: Clamato juice is a good substitute for tomato juice. It’s a mixture of tomato juice, dried clam broth and spices.

Make it non-alcoholic: Use a non-alcoholic beer instead of regular beer to make this cocktail.

Make it gluten-free: Use a gluten-free Mexican beer instead if there are allergy concerns.

beer bottles, rim salt and hot sauce with a michelada cocktail

More Bloody Mary cocktails

Bloody Marys are made with Bloody Mary mix and vodka. However, she has many sisters made by substituting the vodka for something else.

  • The Bloody Maria features tequila or mezcal. This one can be made spicier with more hot sauce and spicy tequila.
  • A Virgin Mary uses zero-proof alcohol or a little bit of olive juice. It can also just be a glass of Bloody Mary mix.
  • The Bloody Marianne, AKA the Bloody Derby, stars Kentucky bourbon.
  • The Red Snapper, AKA the Bloody Bulldog, gets mixed with gin.

There are also a host of other cocktails that are made with different types of mixers.

  • A green Bloody Mary is made with tomatillo, yellow tomato and cucumber.
  • The Bloody Caesar is similar too, made with clamato juice not Bloody Mary mix. (This one is Canada’s national cocktail!)
  • The Bloody Bull is made with Bloody Mary mix, but also has beef stock added in.
  • The New Orleans Bloody Mary uses cajun hot sauce and creole seasoning to flavor it.

There are so many choices! Set up your own Bloody Mary bar with Bloody Mary mix, lots of garnishes to choose from and a few types of booze for your guests to decide how to create their favorite bloody.

a michelada cocktail on a wood coaster

Michelada

Yield: 1 cocktail
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Essentially a beer Bloody Mary, the Michelada is a delicious, savory cocktail made with tomato juice and Mexican lager. Enjoy it on a hot day or for Cinco de Mayo!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoons Bloody Mary salt
  • 1 lime wedge, for rim and garnish
  • 3 ounces tomato juice
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice (about half a lime)
  • 6 dashes hot sauce, such as Tabasco, Tapatio or Cholula
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 ounces Mexican beer, such as Corona, Modelo or Tecate

Instructions

  1. On a small, shallow plate or bowl, add your rim salt. Rub the rim of a highball or pint glass with the cut lime wedge, then roll the outside edge of the rim in the salt mixture.
  2. Fill the glass with ice. Squeeze a lime wedge into the glass, and drop in the spent shell.
  3. Add the tomato juice, lime juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce and a pinch of salt leftover from rimming the glass. Stir to mix.
  4. Slowly, pour the beer into the glass. Stir gently. Garnish with a lime wedge. Serve immediately.

Notes

Cholula, Tapatio and Valentino’s are common and well-loved Mexican hot sauces, so use your favorite.

Corona, Modelo, Dos Equis, Pacifico and Tecate are common brands of Mexican lager you can find at most grocery stores.

You can make a chavela, which is a michelada served with a shot of tequila either added to the drink or served on the side.

Clamato juice can also be substitute for tomato juice. It’s a mixture of tomato juice, dried clam broth and spices.

Feel free to use a non-alcoholic beer or gluten-free beer instead of regular beer to make this cocktail.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 130Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 848mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 2gSugar: 4gProtein: 2g

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Comments

  1. Andrea Flickinger says

    I’m sure I could make this on my own…but would taste so much better if you came to visit and made me one. 😉

  2. Kathi says

    I love your drink recipes, so informative and versatile! I am not a bloody Mary fan, but this one, I can get in to! Grabbing the ingredients for this weekend!

  3. Mindy says

    We tried this and loved it! I think I’m going to make it again for Cinco de Mayo – having people over and I know they will love this. Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe!

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