Think morning tailgating is the best part of football season? So do we. There’s just something about starting a fall weekend morning with a savory eye-opener that gets you ready for kickoff, whether you’re watching the big game from a bar stool or box seat.
No, we’re not talking about the Bloody Mary, but it’s hoppier cousin, the Michelada. Tomato (or tomatillo) along with chili peppers, hot sauce, lime and a lighter-style beer—plus maybe a splash of tequila or mezcal if you’re feeling fancy—make for an effervescent elixir that will keep the festivities going until the final whistle. The creations at these bars are kickoff-ready.
Can't make it to any of the bars serving these great Micheladas? Try making El Rey del Patio at home.
This mashup between a Bloody Caesar and Michelada at laid-back café The Ruin Daily in Chicago starts with a house made mix of Worcestershire sauce, molasses, clam juice, arbol and marita chilis, chipotle peppers and liquid smoke. It’s mixed with Banhez mezcal, lime juice and Pacifico beer, served in a pilsner glass with a salt rim and garnished with a lime wheel. “It’s spicy, salty and effervescent, like drinking a Bloody Mary that’s acceptable any time of the day,” says beverage director Dylan Stewart. It’s also a great morning-after cure for over-imbibing, he says.
The secret weapon in this spicy sip available at the chain of modern gastropubs is togarashi, a Japanese chili-pepper-based seasoning that’s used as a drink rimmer. Pilsner that’s local to each location is combined with Bloody Mary mix and tomato and lime juices, then adorned with a tangy banana pepper. “The drink has vegetable and citrus flavors, which pair well with earthy bites like salads, and just enough heat to cut through protein such as chicken or beef,” says beverage director Michael Kaplan.
Lead bartender Alexander Yoka loved the sights, sounds and smells of the food stands and street restaurants he encountered while traveling in Thailand and says Southeast Asian flavors work wonderfully for Micheladas. At Venetian-inspired bar Bacardi GDL, outside Los Angeles, his version shakes cilantro, Thai chilies, Aleppo pepper flakes, Maggi liquid seasoning (an umami-rich, MSG-based condiment), tomato juice and lime juice. It’s poured into a glass with a chili-salt rim, topped with Singha beer and garnished with a whole poached shrimp, cucumber, radish and carrot.
If salsa verde could be a cocktail, it would be this drink at California-Mexican restaurant Puesto, which has four Michelada variations on the menu. Beverage director Lucien Conner blisters and blackens jalapeños, then blends them with cucumbers, tomatillos, lime juice, black pepper and Tabasco green jalapeño sauce. It’s strained, topped with icy cold Modelo Especial and garnished with cucumber, lime and jalapeño. “The name says it all: We wanted to create the perfect drink to enjoy all afternoon,” he says. Pro tip: It’s amazing with ceviche.
Head bartender Jenn Knott loves hot sauce and even grows her own chili peppers. “I wanted to make an iteration of a Michelada that was as fresh as possible and would feel like everything came straight from a garden in Mexico,” she says. She muddles cherry tomatoes with lime wedges, cilantro, agave nectar and a house-made hot sauce made with jalapeños, onions, garlic, cilantro, salt, pepper and apple cider vinegar. She then rolls it with ice, Del Maguey Vida mezcal and Herradura reposado tequila. It’s served in a pint glass rimmed with Tajín seasoning and topped with pilsner.