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Cheladas and Micheladas: Are These Cancún’s Best Beach Drinks?
When it comes to beer, Mexico absolutely makes some of the world’s best. Almost every single brand, whether it’s from a national mass producer or a regional brewery that caters to local tastes, you can bet you’ll get a beer that’s tasty and refreshing, no matter what style you like, from lagers and pilsners to the darker amber and “black” beers.
Beer drinkers who decide to holiday in Cancún will have an absolutely fabulous time because most of the country’s top brews are available everywhere; if not in the bars or restaurants, they can be found in the city’s grocery stores. World-famous beers such as Corona and Sol are everywhere, and beer aficionados can also easily get “connoisseur beers” such as Bohemia (said to be the best in Mexico) and Negra Modelo.
The beer is great, no doubt about it. But while you’re in Mexico, why don’t you try a couple of the local specialties that will absolutely knock your socks off and make you think of beer in a totally different way? In a way that makes standard beer incredibly versatile? In a way that will make refreshing beer even more refreshing and flavorful on a hot day at the beach? Why don’t you try a Chelada and a Michelada?
Cheladas and Micheladas have been around in Mexico for decades, quite possibly for over a hundred years. If you’re a beer lover but want to try something a little bit different but not too crazy, and if you don’t like sweet, syrupy or thick cocktails, and if you’re not too keen on wine, then these two Mexican specialties are for you. While not technically seen as mixed drinks, there are some who call these two beer-based drinks cocktails. However, most people view the Chelada and Michelada as beer with extra goodness thrown in. And if you’re on the beach and it’s hot, nothing is ever as refreshing as a good cold Chelada or Michelada.
The Chelada is basically a lager beer (use Sol, Corona, Superior, Dos Equis XX or Tecate) poured over ice into a chilled glass that has a salted rim (sea salt is best); between one half ounce to a full ounce of lime juice is added. If the concept seems a little bit strange, think of it this way; a Chelada is like a beer margarita. But unlike a margarita that can get too sickly sweet or can be un refreshing, a Chelada provides just enough tang and salt to be an effective thirst quencher and tasty at the same time.
One thing to keep in mind however, is that for both drinks, it’s almost always best to use lager beers. While a Chelada made with Bohemia or Negra Leon might be interesting, darker beers are almost always better when consumed with no other adornment, garnish, seasonings, or additives. One can say that making a Michelada with Negra Modelo is sort of like making sangria with a vintage Bordeaux; it can be done, but there’s not really any reason to.
If you’re a person who’s a little bit more adventurous at heart, then you may want to try the Michelada, which some beer drinkers claim is a bit more “hardcore”.
The Michelada, when a person is first informed of its ingredients, sounds a bit counter-intuitive. However, the components work together in a way that is incredibly refreshing and can cool you down after a long session in a hammock at the beach. The Michelada, like the Chelada, is served over ice in a chilled glass that has a rim covered in sea salt. The exact same amount of lime juice is added, along with liberal dashes of Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and in some cases, slices of Serrano chillies. Some bars and restaurants, to the delight of Canadian patrons who have the custom of pouring a shot of clamato (clam and tomato juice mixed together) or tomato juice in a pint of mass-produced lager beer to “improve” the taste, will even add a little clamato juice to the Michelada, effectively making a beer-based Caesar cocktail that’s more appropriate for Caribbean climes.
The “icy hot” effect is cooling
As mentioned, at first this drink may not appear to be particularly refreshing, but Mexicans emphatically state that the spiciness of the drink, along with the saltiness, tang, beer flavor and coldness all help you feel like you’re cooling down. At first the effect of a spicy cold drink is a little disconcerting, but after you try it a few times, it becomes very delicious and plain lager beer seems a little boring afterwards.
The best daytime drinks for Cancún’s beaches
In temperate climates, plain beer is really great, and in the Canadian situation, adding a little clamato juice to uninspired factory beer can make a cold winter evening go by in a pleasant fashion. However, when it comes to Cancún, beer needs to perform; beer needs to be refreshing, beer must cool you down, and it has to do the job in hot and humid conditions.
This is why the best drinks in Cancún during the daytime aren’t your typical frilly cocktails; although delicious, they might only be effective in getting you drunk, but even then they may be too heavy, syrupy, and thick to drink during the full heat of the mid-day sun on the beach. Cancún’s best drinks for daylight hours consumption are the Chelada and Michelada.
If you’re planning a trip to Cancún and you’re a little afraid of trying a Michelada or Chelada, you can always ease your way into it by first trying some lime juice in your beer without any salt or ice, and ask the bartender to gradually add more ingredients in successive rounds. In no time at all you’ll be a beer drinks expert, staying cool and refreshed in Mexico’s beautiful Caribbean.
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