It’s Cinco de Mayo, which isn’t Mexican Independence Day (that’s September 16), but a day to commemorate the Battle of Puebla in 1862, which no Mexican outside of Puebla talks about. Basically, it is a Mexican themed drinking holiday in the United States fueled by Mexican beer and Tequila companies. Let’s skip the margarita this year and even the Corona and premium sipping tequilas. Instead opt for one of two real Mexican concoctions that turn a beer into a sort of cocktail: the Michelada or Chelada.
Depending where in Mexico you are, the michelada can mean different things, but in the general sense a michelada is a Mexican beer with tomato or clamato juice, lime, with various spices and sauces such as black pepper, Worcestershire, and Tabasco. It’s served in a chilled, salt rimmed glass. It’s strong and it’s spicy. Unlike the chelada, I prefer the michelada with a lager such as Modelo Especial. Variations include the Clamato (with tomato and clam juice) and the Cubana (with Worcestershire sauce, tabasco sauce, chile and salt). In Mexico City, the most common form of a Michelada is prepared with beer, lime, salt, hot sauce, and occasionally orange slices. Like the Bloody Mary the michelada is believed to be a hangover remedy.
The Chelada on the other hand isn’t spicy. It’s just a Mexican beer (best with something lighter like Sol or Pacifico) with lime juice that’s served in a chilled salt rimmed glass. Often the chelada is called a michelada, even in Mexico. It taste a bit like a lime Margarita, but at half the cost.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.