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The Chelada - A Daring Cocktail Recipe

Updated on January 8, 2012
The Michelada, Chelada, Cubano or Red Eye.
The Michelada, Chelada, Cubano or Red Eye.

At first thought, the mixture of lager and tomato or Clamato juice might sound utterly repulsive. It did to me, until I tried it. The Chelada is a refreshing and bold beverage suitable for brunch or barbecue. It is a daring cocktail party selection that is bound to be a hit amongst those who are adventurous enough to try it. It is refreshing enough for the summer but spicy enough for the colder seasons as well.

There are many regional and historical variations of the cerveza preparada Chelada or Michelada. It is a Mexican beverage consisting of a combination of lager, lime juice, salt and tomato or Clamato juice. The addition of a range of spices can sometimes be called a Cubana. The drink exists in Canada as well and goes by the name Red Eye. In both regions this beverage is used as a hangover remedy. To keep things simple I normally generalize and use the easily pronounceable term Chelada.

For those that are unfamiliar with Mott's brand Clamato, it is a mixture of tomato and clam juice. The thought of this combination might again repulse you, as did me until I actually tried it. I don't normally drink it straight but it is a great mixer. The use of Clamato in place of tomato juice in a Bloody Mary is called a Bloody Caesar. There is a long list of drink recipes available on the Clamato website.

The macro breweries, in their ever tightening grip on any niche drink market they can get their grubby hands on, have canned a few versions of this popular South American cocktail. The Miller Brewing Company offers Miller Chill with a "hint of salt and lime" and Anheuser-Busch offers Budweiser Chelada and Bud Light Chelada, consisting of Clamato, lime and spices. Both are marketed to a predominantly Latin American population.

As with any drink recipe I create, it is formulated to please me. Take what you will and modify it for your own personal pleasure. I would, however, strongly recommend that you use a cerveza such as Modelo, Dos Equis or at least Tecate in lieu of an American lager.

Rim your glass with something exotic. Salt will do but a little chili powder or garlic salt could be quite interesting. For mine I am going to use Everglades seasoning. This seasoning was created by Florida resident and Mess Sergeant Bill Gerstman while stationed in Saipan in 1944. This all purpose seasoning is pretty much delicious as a substitute on anything that calls for salt and pepper. Most Chelada recipes call for salt but I omit it. There is enough spice on the rim and enough sodium in commercial tomato and Clamato juices and our daily diets as it is.

The Usual Suspects
The Usual Suspects

In a rimmed pint glass:

3 or 4 ice cubes

A turn of fresh ground pepper

A dash or two of Tabasco

2 Dashes of Worchestershire sauce

Half a lime

2 oz of Clamato or tomato juice

Stir and fill with cerveza

Simple and refreshing

The Brunch of Champions
The Brunch of Champions

This cocktail went wonderfully with Sunday brunch.

I love brunch. It's a great way to drink early in the day without looking like you have a problem.

Smoked salmon on the top half of an everything bagel with Fage Greek strained yogurt, green onion, fresh homegrown chive, a dash of Everglades seasoning and a lime wedge with homemade pickled asparagus and fresh homegrown cucumber slices soaked in vinegar water.

Always drink and serve responsibly and NEVER drink and drive.


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    • rick combe profile image

      rick combe 5 years ago from USA

      I'm lazy, so I just buy Clamato and mix it 1 to 3 with whatever beer I have on hand. Delicious. I was once at a town fair in Mexico, noting how similar it was to our own, when I found a booth selling 40oz Micheladas for $3. I had a blast. America should take note. Nice article!

    • Thenicknick profile image

      Thenicknick 6 years ago from Melbourne, Australia

      Ive had a ceaser before, have to make this happen also!

    • peepingtomb profile image

      peepingtomb 6 years ago

      I hope you all enjoy. @ bscott4388 That sounds like a great pairing.

    • bscott4388 profile image

      bscott4388 6 years ago from Chicago, IL

      This sounds delicious! I am going to make one tomorrow night when I make quesadillas.

    • hush4444 profile image

      hush4444 6 years ago from Hawaii

      My husband loves the Clamato/Modelo combination, but he's never done more than combine the two. We'll definitely be trying this recipe soon.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 6 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Sounds good to me, I'd go for any season!