The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2011

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A LONE STAR LIFE ¡Viva la Michelada! I THE GREATEST BEER COCKTAIL YOU’VE NEVER TASTED by Anthony Head / photo by Kirk Weddle took an informal poll of thirsty friends around the country to answer the following question: If you ordered a Michelada in a bar, what would you be served? No one knew the answer, although a couple folks in California got close. A Michelada is a beer cocktail imported from Mexico, and it’s apparently still trying to fi nd its way into America. That’s not the case in Texas, especially San Antonio and Austin, where Micheladas have gained a foothold. Although I’ve seen no evidence of a single inventor or offi cial recipe lineage, the drink has been ordered in cafés, bars and restaurants throughout Mexico for decades. “Michelada” has no true translation, but it kind of means “my beer” or “mix beer”; either way, it’s an ambiguous term. The basic, and ambiguous, recipe usually involves beer, tomato juice, lime juice and salt: a simple concoction to satisfy cerveza’s willingness to pair with savory fl avors. What else goes into a Michelada depends a lot on personal preference. Throughout Mexico, Clamato is often substituted for tomato juice. Internet-sourced recipes include adding a dash of picante sauce, a few splashes of Worcestershire sauce and/or a soupçon of soy sauce. Maybe even a pinch of black pepper. Not surprisingly, the drink has been linked with the Bloody Mary and the Red Eye (beer, tomato juice, raw egg) for its curative hair-of-the-dog-that-bit-you properties. At El Chile Café y Cantina in Austin, the Michelada begins with a schooner of Dos Equis Lager from the tap. Tabasco and Worcestershire are splashed in along with a healthy pour of fresh lime juice. The rim’s already been dusted with El Chile’s proprietary chili powder blend, which adds some savory heat without the fl ame to the cool draft. “Our mixologist, Rachael Davis, takes the drink very seriously,” Orlando Sanchez tells me, “and it goes with almost everything we serve.” Sanchez is El Chile’s COO, and he says the Michelada is becom- ing an important component of the city’s bar menus because it adds complexity to beer without diluting any of its refreshingness. After confi ding that he prefers his Micheladas over ice, Sanchez says, “Almost everyone has their own recipe.” Almost everyone around here does, anyway. That’s because for the home bar chef there are bottled varieties of liquid Michelada seasoning available. My brother-in-law, over near San Antonio, makes his own, but also highly recommends canned Budweiser & Clamato Chelada. The strongest evidence of the staying power of this savory cocktail is my wife’s excellent original recipe. It’s nothing to you, perhaps, but my wife normally eschews beer. So for her to enthusiastically whip up a round of these . . . well, I think that shows a whole lot of range for just one drink. 78 / the tasting panel / april 201 1 MICHELE’S MICHELADAS Try serving these alongside Margaritas at next month’s Cinco de Mayo fi estas. ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ Juice from 3 limes 1 tsp. Cholula hot sauce 1 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce ½ tsp. ground black pepper ½ tsp. chili powder lime salt 12 oz. Corona ■ Rim serving glass with lime salt. Combine all ingredients except beer and lime salt in cocktail shaker; shake well. Pour into glass, add beer, stir and serve.

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