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Michelada Mishaps

My friends Ryan and Amanda invited me to their wedding in Dripping Springs, Texas last month. The bride and groom are both into camping, so they rented out a campground deep in the gorgeous Texas country, and asked their friends to enjoy the wedding, party like maniacs,  and camp out under the stars.

In preparation, I went to Spec’s Liquor in downtown Houston on a mission to buy a variety of canned beer six-packs to share with my old friends. Picked up everything I could find in cans. Southern Star Pine Belt, Karbach Hopadillo, Ska Modus Hoperandi, Oskar Blues Old Chub, New Belgium Shift, Brooklyn Lager, and Maui Big Swell IPA. This is why I always get invited to parties.

While shopping around, I came across a styrofoam cup labeled “Don Chelada Michelada Mix”.  As you can see, it also reads “Beer Booster & Hangover Helper”.

A little bit of background here- I’m a michelada freak. I don’t care what kind of crappy beer goes into it, a michelada is always awesome, as long as it doesn’t come in a can. I’ve had the glorious opportunity to judge michelada (and bloody mary) contests years back, and I regularly make them at home.

Looking at this 24 ounce styrofoam cup, you can only imagine the conversation between the company’s owner and their graphic designer.

Owner: “I need something that represents Mexico. Something that will make this product appear to be ultimately authentic; something that will conjure images of colorful villas, the rich sounds of a mariachi, the fear of a bullfighter, the scent of fresh masa.”

Designer: “How about a Mexican?”

Owner: “That’s brilliant!”

Designer: “With a sombrero and a mustache.”

Owner: “We’re so glad to have you on board.”

As far as the statement “Beer Booster & Hangover Helper” goes,   I can’t argue with it. Micheladas are great for both of these purposes.

 

I googled the product name and found their website. It’s kind of a mystery, really. It doesn’t say where they’re from, or who they are. The About Us page is blank. Everything is blank, except for the page where you can buy these cups. Their Twitter account has been taken down, but there a Facebook page. On the Facebook page, the owner holds internet auctions for cases of michelada kits.

To rate the Don Chelada on a level playing field with other micheladas, I would need to find a hangover. A wedding party at a campground would do the trick. After partying til 3 or 4 in the morning around a massive bonfire, after all the beer I brought was gone and the kegs were blown, I walked into the wilderness with a sleeping bag and called it a night. The next morning, with a bastard of a hangover, I removed the cellophane and peeled back the paper lid on the styrofoam cup.

I expected some kind of liquid packet inside, but the bottom 1/4 inch was full of a dried, red seasoning powder. And a rock.

Why is there a rock in the michelada mix? I took it out and looked at it. It weighed as much as a rock, and looked like a rock. I tasted it. Rock.

Maybe they put rocks in the lightweight cups to weigh them down, so they don’t topple from the counter if someone bumps into it?

“Maybe they know something I don’t”, I thought, choosing to drop the rock back into the cup and give it a try.

I was out of beer, so I opened some stranger’s icechest and scored their last two Negra Modelos (it’s a 24 ounce cup, so I had to take two.)  In a cocktail bar, they moisten the rim of a glass in order to get the seasoning or salt to adhere. Since this is a dry styrofoam cup, they had to use some kind of adhesive to get the seasoning to stick. I carefully poured the cold beers into the cup. Most of the seasoning just floated to the top, even after a stir. The item I formerly thought was a rock floated too. I’m still confused about the floating gray rock.

The first sip was a mouthful of seasoning, but it wan’t hard to see that coming. It was terrible, but I took a few more swigs just to see if maybe it just needed to mix a little better. Nope.

A sleepy guy with red eyes and a ponytail walked up.

“Hey, you know what happened to my last two beers?”

“No, but you can have the rest of this michelada if you want.”

“Solid.”

I walked away in classic “walk away from a massive explosion without flinching or turning around” action hero mode, with the correct knowledge that he would spray it out through his mouth and nose.  None of us can be Bruce Willis, but we can all improvise by creating our own moments. Don’t look back.

When I got back into Houston, I had a few questions for Jay Francis, one of Houston’s most intrepid food adventurers, who also moonlights as a fortune teller on the Southwest side of town.

Stepping through the colorful beaded door curtains, I walked over to the stereo and turned the volume down on Ananda Shankar’s “Streets of Calcutta”, which was playing at full volume.

“Never interrupt a man in meditation”, Jay sternly warned, as he covered himself with a kimono.

Jay is the guy you call when you’ve got food questions. He’s been everywhere, he knows how to pronounce everything, and apparently can see into the future. He explained that the combination of tequila, lime and salt was originally initiated as a prescription for influenza. I was hoping to find the origin of the michelada, but we weren’t able to put it together.  I didn’t notice them during my time in Mexico, and Jay didn’t see them either.

The birth of the michelada is a mystery. The word “michelada” can be broken down into three Spanish words, “mi chela helada”, which basically translates to “my ice cold beer”. This is one possibility behind the name. The almighty beverage has been traced back to a family from France that resided in Jalisco, Mexico, that held huge drunken mega-parties I wasn’t invited to and mixed up beer and salsa. The Michelada name has also been attributed to a General Augusto Michel who kicked ass in the Mexican Revolution, and commonly brought his soldiers to a cantina in San Luis Potosi to get them hammered on spicy beers. Also, there are a few Canadians who believe they invented it.

“Why the history lesson?”, you may ask. We study history so we don’t make the same mistake twice.  The Don Chelada Michelada Kit is a mistake that should never be repeated. I want to find a historic building downtown and chisel this into the facade in Latin.

NO, NO, NO, NO, NO.

If the powdered michelada kit was this bad, what should a good michelada taste like? We’ll get to that later. The picture right there is the Budweiser & Clamato Chelada, next to a Kershaw Ken Onion Leek 1660CKST with a SpeedSafe ambidextrous assisted opening system. This is a great knife that has no business resting next to this wretched beer in a photograph, but if anyone offers you this beverage, the Leek is a highly recommended tool if you’d like to ventilate one of their lungs or puncture an internal organ or two.

Call me crazy, but I didn’t expect this beverage to be terrible.

It is.

It pours an unappealing orange-pinkish color, and it smells awful. For a more vivid description of the taste of this beer,  AV Club did a great job.  I’m not going to even explain the taste of this beer, because I really don’t want to revisit the experience. It really is that bad. If someone tells you they enjoy the Budweiser & Clamato Chelada, they are simply lying to you. Here’s another review of this revolting fluid by some psycho named Aaron Goldfarb. Knock yourself out.

The traditional michelada is an outstanding daytime beverage that definitely shouldn’t come in a gluey styrofoam cup or come out of a can. If you’ve tasted one of these monstrosities (or if you read one of the above reviews), don’t let this dissuade you from the magnificence of the real thing.

My favorite michelada comes from a mix that can only be found at Connie’s Seafood on Airline. You can pick up a bottle of it for $5. Drop a spoonful and a half into the bottom of a glass with a salted rim, and fill it with an ordinary beer and a squeeze of fresh lime.  Some people prefer it with ice. If you have a favorite michelada recipe, or a favorite place to buy micheladas, please share it!

***UPDATE!***

Commenter “Moe” explained the gray rock, and claims it is a “saladito”, or dried plum. (see comments below.) Not to alarm anyone, but there’s an FDA warning against imported saladitos dating back to 2009, citing that they contain lead. How lead gets into dried plums is anyone’s guess.  To be fair, if we all went by FDA’s rules, food would be pretty boring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

17 Responses to “Michelada Mishaps”

  1. Brittanie says:

    While living in Korea (and at a loss for store-bought michelada mix) I experimented and came up with my own recipe. IT IS THE BEST MICHELADA YOU WILL EVER HAVE. I used to make it in bulk and leave it in the fridge for improving on shitty korean piss beer. Maybe I’ll make you a batch sometime.

  2. Daniel Glover says:

    Greetings!
    @Glovedirk here. I think the best michelada is served at Captain Tom’s on 1960. Yes it is a restaurant shaped like a boat. Yes my wife hates it. But it’s hard to beat theirs.

  3. KP says:

    Capt. Toms has great michelada’s, but if you want the best you have to go to the Valley and get the deluxe versions from the local drive thru beer stores……complete with dried shrimp, tamarindo, and cucumbers.

  4. Hard to find a good one stateside. Ordered one in Corpus Christi, where I am from and live, and I think has the best Mexican food in the world, and I have been all over Mexico. So ordered 1 and this guy said you want with Michelob, cause Michelada u know Miche. I was like, no dude that is not why, give me Pacifico. And they brought it out huge glass poured the beer from into the glass it was already mixed up.

    O, El Tiempo has the best one I ever had north of the border.

    Really all that salt and chili salt is not even necessary or good or part of a traditional michelada. My friend in AguasCalientes, Mexico taught me to make them—>

    Good amount of lime juice maybe 2-3 limes, Worcestershire, soy sauce, salt and pepper, fill a standard 20oz mug a little less than halfway with this stuff and Clamato. Then fill with a bottled Mexican beer of your choice, filling the mug as you go along, so that by the end of the drink it is mostly beer to wash down the heavy lime and tomato flavor at the beginning. You have to mix in this fashion, if you mix at the beginning it is horrible. And salt the glass if you like.

    Lots of times in Mexico you order one and they just bring you a couple inches of lime juice in a mug.

    I actually only was the tomato version around central Mexico and up into Monterrey and the Texas border. Never really see them on the west coast and never traveled on Gulf coast.

  5. Moe says:

    Wow…..I and many may of my friends and I really enjot Don Chelada cups. You seem very educated and refined, did you bother to read the label on the cup in order to understand the saladito (the Rock” you refer to? I suggest you try again objectively with ICE Cold Coronas and let it sit for about 60 seconds then drink it. It is also outstanding with Smirnoff orange or pineapple.
    Pour 12oz of mineral water into the Don Chelada cup then as a bottle of the smirnoff and enjoy. The “Rock” is a dehydrated plum that will hydrate witht he drink and you can chew on it later. The rim cannot use glue..comon…you know that.

  6. Ralph says:

    Jay: Not expecting the beverage to be terrible was crazy of you. It says BUDWEISER & CLAMATO right on the bottle. I’ve never seen that horrific-looking product before, but I know that 2 wrongs don’t make a right. And thanks for the link to the Adam Goldfarb’s review. That’s the funniest thing I’ve read in a while.

    Keith: “bottled Mexican beer of your choice” is no choice at all. I’ve tried a lot of Mexican beers and the only palatable one is Negro Modelo. Mexican beer making skills are on par with East Asian beer making skills. (almost non-existant)

  7. Ralph says:

    Aaron, not Adam. My mistake.

  8. Mario Felix says:

    My name is Mario, the person behind Don Chelada. After reading your very well written story about The Don Chelada Michelada Cup I was impressed with the time and effort you put into writing about my product. Here is all I can say, I can’t satisfy everyone. you unfortunately are one of them. I love your writing skills and would ask you to email and maybe we can do some business. Just because the style of cup did not appeal to you does not mean you hate my company right? I don’t like eating apples and other fruits so that will not make me hate farmers. Give me a moment of your time and make something happen. Hope to hear from you soon.

  9. Carlos The Miche King says:

    The Miche King is a bunch of bullshit I just like micheladas. I am an authentic mexican living in Texas. When it comes to micheladas the old saying come into play “If you want it done right, do it yourself” for me anyway. Although the thought of putting a beer in a cup an have one ready to go is awesome. Maybe ill come out with my own version of the Don Chelada but then again I might be in the same boat as him, cant please everybody. For now I will share the recipe with you guys.I like to start of with a big cold mug out of the freezer. Add salt or margarita salt to rim. I like mine with crushed ice. I usually squeeze 1 and 1/2 of lime in mine. Dash of soy sauce or maggi season sauce. A few dashes of hot sauce (You must use Valentina mexican hot sauce.with yellow label or black if you want it spicy) add some salt and pepper then add V8 vegetable juice or clamato. Its good with both I prefer V8.Add beer of choice. I will disagree with you on that, I think the beer does change the taste. My favorite is Corona and Bud Light. After slowly pouring the beer add a powdered chile and stir.Enjoy. By the way love the blog keep up the good work wish I had the talent for something like this.

  10. jaime says:

    I drink these all the time and they’re awesome. I would never just poor beer in it and start drinking though.

    This is what I like to do:
    1. Add ice to the cup to fill, Squeeze lime juice to taste – for me that’s about 2- 2 1/2. I always leave one in the cup too.

    2. Add beer . The ice will help the spices properly disperse and keeps the saladito from floating to the top. It also allows you stir a bit better.

    I get about 3 beers (with ice and lime refills) out of one cup.

  11. [...] with giant 32 ounce styrofoam cups of micheladas (a tomato recipe and a no tomato recipe, and a funny review…friends from Wichita Falls will recognize this as a cousin of the red draw) that looked quite [...]

  12. Bill says:

    I know most of you Michelada connoisseurs won’t agree but for a quickie, I like Tabasco Bloody Mary mix and beer mixed together and bam instant Michelada. The choice of beer is up to you

  13. Lol@Moe says:

    Lol. Moe or Mo is the owner of this company. Way to defend your product. Next time just admit that it is your company.

  14. I love michelada too! but I always buy the same one… Regards from Aguascalientes

  15. Nick says:

    I absolutely love micheladas! Had one for the first time many years ago at a futbol gave in Guadalajara! It really seems you can’t go wrong adding any combination of lime, salt, and choice of seasonings. The first time I ever had a Salidito in my michi was in one of those styrofoam cups and personally I really like the taste. The dry powder seems to be Tajin seasoning, so if you like the taste, save some $$$ and omit the styrofoam with this recipe:

    - Get a large glass
    - Rim with salt or Tajin Seasoning
    - 1-2 teaspoons of Tajin Seasoning
    - 1 Salted Plum (good with Japanese Umeboshi too!)
    - 1 dash of Maggi Seasoning (or soy sauce)
    - 1 dash of Worcestershire
    - Juice from 1 whole lime (more or less to taste)
    - Optional: Hot sauce and/or Clamato
    - Add beer
    - When head settles, add ice to rim
    - ENJOY!

  16. [...] with giant 32 ounce styrofoam cups of micheladas (a tomato recipe and a no tomato recipe, and a funny review…friends from Wichita Falls will recognize this as a cousin of the red draw) that looked quite [...]

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