Where to Jump on the Michelada Bandwagon

Slay your summer thirst with Mexico's answer to the Bloody Mary at Taqueria Portland, Sunshine Tavern, and ¿Por Que No?

By Maya Seaman July 11, 2014 Published in the August 2014 issue of Portland Monthly

Image: Nomad

Spicy-sweet and deliciously salty, nothing refreshes on a late-summer day like a michelada. All over Mexico and Latin America you’ll find icy cold, salt-rimmed pint glasses brimming with cheap Mexican lager spiked with infinite combinations of tomato juice, fresh-squeezed lime, chile spices, and Worcestershire sauce—commingling for a uniquely light, slick, and bracing sip that partisans consider liquid air-conditioning. Many local taquerias serve their own a homespun twist on the all-day beer cocktail; here are three to sip while the sun still shines.  

Taqueria Portland

Served in a comically large, salt-rimmed stein, this traditional michelada combines Corona, Clamato, a dash of Tapatio, and a hefty squeeze of lime. Flecks of Tajin chile seasoning swirl amid ice cubes like sand in a turbulent tidal pool, delivering a spicy tomato burst so savory, you’ll be tempted to dip tortilla chips in your glass. This one goes down so easy you could drink it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. $6

Sunshine Tavern

Sunshine’s modern michelada elevates spice over tang, trading Mexican lager for German pilsner. The crisp, golden brew lays the groundwork for a heady mix of Worcestershire, Tabasco, and finely ground black pepper. The lime wedge and salted rim are absolute necessities to balance the intensity of this peppery pint, which should be savored rather than gulped. Pair it with a golden corn dog and cabbage slaw. $5

¿Por Que No? 

Liberal doses of lime juice balance dashes of Worcestershire in this smooth, Tecate-based concoction. Adjust the flavor intensity of each chilly sip and engage in a tipsy “Choose Your Own Adventure” game by licking bits of salt or chile (or both) off the rim of the glass—it’s the ultimate personalized michelada experience. $4

¿Por Que No?'s Michelada

Rub the top third of a pint glass with a lime wedge. Sprinkle kosher salt on a plate, turn the glass upside down, and dip the edge of half the glass in the salt; dip the other half in ground japones chile mixed with salt (whole chiles are available at Whole Foods or New Seasons). Fill the glass 2/3 full with ice and add ¾ oz fresh-squeezed lime juice and 5–6 dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Fill the glass with Tecate and stir with a straw to blend. Add a lime garnish and serve, offering the can with the remaining beer on the side.

To make it a cerveza roja, add two shots (about 3 oz) of Bloody Maria mix* before filling with Tecate.

Bloody Maria Mix*

Makes about 1.5 pitchers

  • 1 can of tomato juice (46 oz)
  • 5 oz bottled hot sauce like Huichol or Tapatio
  • 26 oz fresh-squeezed orange juice (about 7–8 oranges)
  • 10 oz fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice (about 2 grapefruits)
  • 8 oz fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients together in a large vessel. Will keep in the refrigerator for two days.

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