Cinco de Mayo Libations: The Michelada

Smoky MicheladaHappy Cinco de Mayo, y’all! Cinco de Mayo (translation: 5th of May – the more you know) commemorates the Battle of Puebla and gives us all an excuse to get day drunk when the weather is perfect. The story goes that basically Mexico was out of cash and owed France some Benjamins, so Napoleon III invaded with 8,000 troops. How original. However, the Mexican army, outnumbered nearly 2 to 1 whipped the piss out of the French forces near a little area called Puebla on May 5th, 1862. Badass, I know!

As you may have caught on with the date, the United States was dealing with a crisis of its own called the American Civil War. With the French forces decimated, Napoleon was far less able to supply the Confederate Army with French reserves. Long story short, the Union prevailed, and we are still one nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. Thanks, Mexico! History lesson over.

In honor of the brave Mexican army, we drink lots and lots of beers on May 5. However, I find myself wanting something a little more “hangover friendly” for the span of time between Saturday night’s Cinco-brations and Sunday afternoon’s booze-fest. Perfect fit? A Michelada – a savory beer cocktail like a Bloody Mary typically made with a Modelo or a Tecate Mexican lager.

If you want to liven it up a bit, you can try it with a variety of other styles of beer. Firstly, though, start with a strong base. A michelada can be as simple as a salt-rimmed glass, a quarter cup of lime juice, a splash of hot sauce and Worcestershire, and a delicious brew. It could also be a complex Bloody Mary mix of your choosing. One could even be audacious enough to toss some clam stock in for extra flavor. Point is, if you are going to toss a tasty craft beer into a pitcher of lime and tomato juice, make it really good lime and tomato juice. It’ll be worth it.

When it comes to what to use to give this beer cocktail its boozy kick, I’ve got a couple different suggestions. A great pilsner, like Krombacher Pils is delicious and lets the flavors of your mix really come through while keeping the whole drink light and bubbly. An IPA is also a really great choice. I’ve heard Austin Beerworks’ Fire Eagle is scrumptious mixed in with the Mary. I indulged in a ‘lada with Ballast Point’s Dorado double IPA and was very impressed as well. Because it has such a strong hop flavor, the dIPA still totally comes across in the drink. If you want to try a dark horse of a pairing, however, try Hops and Grain’s ALTeration. It sounds weird, but the extra body in the altbier gives the drink a backbone and balance that is surprisingly perfect. With any of these, I’d suggest a 60/40 ratio of beer to mix. Any more beer might be overpowering, and any less is basically a glass of V8.

I enjoy a Michelada any Sunday, but it feels particularly perfect to mix one (or 4) up to commemorate Cinco de Mayo this brunch-time. However you celebrate, though, happy Cinco to you and yours!


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