Michelada Lesson Sends Me Down (Beer-Fueled) Memory Lane

Enjoying two of my favorite things in Mexico: Micheladas and chiles en nogada.

Last week, after reading a T Magazine article, friend and fellow Astoria blogger Meg asked me if I had ever tasted michelada-style beer when I lived in Mexico. Tasted them?! Not only had I tasted them, I drank probably hundreds of them — a fact that OK maybe I shouldn’t exactly be proud of, but it does make me a bit of a michelada expert.

So, what the heck is it? “Chela” is Mexican slang for beer, and “michelada” usually means you’ve spiced up your chela in some way. Yeah, that’s a vague description because no two bars in Mexico serve it exactly the same way. Yet somehow they’re all incredibly refreshing and highly effective at cooling you off while, say, sunbathing on a Oaxacan beach or touring the canals of Xochimilco. It was a rough life, living in Mexico.

At its simplest, a michelada means you’ve gotten yourself a cold glass mug, added ice, the juice of a key lime or two, and kosher salt around the rim. Then you pour in a cold beer and presto! Deliciousness. More complicated iterations (<– a word I’ve started using infinitely more often now that I work for an internet company that loves to iterate) include adding Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, chili powder(s), Clamato juice…you get the idea – anything that turns a regular ole beer into something more closely resembling a margarita or Bloody Mary.

So, to relive some of my great michelada memories, I had Meg over for a tasting. I pulled out all the stops and procured chamoy liquid candy, which makes an excellent vehicle for getting the salt to the stick to the rim. I heated it up in el horno de microonda for a few seconds, dipped the rim of a pint glass in the gooey mess, and then poured some salt on top of that. I squeezed in the juice of one whole key lime, added a few cubes of ice, and poured in my favorite Mexican dark beer, Negra Modelo. This meant we had a great Mexican flavor combination of salty, spicy, sweet and tart. All in one drink:

Our chamoy-rimmed micheladas. Photo by Meg.

Meg wasn’t as impressed with our second round of drinks, during which I added Clamato (tomato and clam juice — a big favorite in Mexico) along with a splash of the ubiquitous Mexican flavor enhancer Valentina. Still, we managed to finish them off while snacking on chips and guacamole and popcorn laced with, well, Valentina.

Since then, our little mixer made me remember so many good michelada memories, and I started trolling our photo folders for said moments. There was no shortage. I’ll spare you the drunken details, but here are two of my faves:

My michelada on the beach in Ixtapa came in a Styrofoam cup with a straw. Which is a common way to drink chelas in Mexico. If you see people walking around a plaza drinking out of Styrofoam, there's a good chance they got their michelada to go.

My darling husband enjoys a michelada on the balcony of a restaurant in the Gulf city of Campeche. I am not sure why I chose to photograph the extra tables, perhaps it was the effect of too many micheladas?

9 thoughts on “Michelada Lesson Sends Me Down (Beer-Fueled) Memory Lane

  1. Elizabeth Slagle says:

    Hi Joy,
    I found you because I was looking up “mechelada,” and couldn’t believe someone blogged about it! I used to live in Mexico… LOVED it.. and now I live in Panama.

    I see you are the Word Czar for WordPress.com.
    I have a Blogspot blog I’ve kept for 2+ years.
    People keep telling me to switch it to WordPress so I can make more money.
    But I’m not sure there even is a way to make money from my blog.

    What do you suggest?
    Can I import it? Switch it?
    You’re young and clever and savvy.
    Can you help me?
    I have the domain mypanamalife.com but…I’m stuck on blogspot!

    Thanks for reading this. Love your blog.

    Elizabeth Slagle

    • Joy Victory says:

      Elizabeth, it’s very easy to export your blog from Blogspot to WordPress.com, but we don’t allow advertising for most blogs, so it’s not really a better way to make money.

      But you can use your free software, WordPress.org, and self-host your blog, and run advertising on there. I don’t work for that division, so I can’t help you with that directly.

      To clear up any confusion, WordPress.com and WordPress.org are two different entities.

      WordPress.org has a complete Support Site for self-hosted/installed versions of WordPress at:

  2. Erin Gilbert says:

    Oh, me encanta las micheladas! Mexico City is my second home, after Seattle, and reading this has made me excited to see you at the IFBC next week.

  3. broadsideblog says:

    We discovered a Mexican drink while in Queretaro called a bandera, and I’ve never seen it outside of Mexico. It’s the red, white and green of the Mexican flag — 3 liquids in three shot glasses — tomato juice, lime juice and tequila. Wicked! It’s quite delicious and lethal.

    • Joy Victory says:

      Yes! That’s a fun one, too. A bit more dangerous, though. 🙂

      The tomato juice is often served spicy, and is known as a sangrita. It’s a common chaser with tequila (which you sip in Mexico, not shoot.)

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