Searching the city for the best of this Mexican beer cocktail
Photographs by Jonathan Amado
I’ll admit it. I’m new to the world of micheladas. But I like beer, tomato juice, and a challenge. So I started on a quest through Memphis in hopes of finding out more about this traditionally Mexican, refreshing beer cocktail.
In its most basic form, a michelada is presented in a giant, icy glass mug—the rim lined with lime and salt—filled to the brim with a delicious mixture of tomato juice, lime juice, piquant seasonings, and beer. One bartender told me that the drink Clamato is often used as the mix. (Clamato is made up of tomato juice concentrate, sugar, spices, dried clam broth, and MSG.)
Like the Bloody Mary, the michelada is known as a hangover cure.
And, also like the Bloody Mary, the presentation can get pretty wild with the addition of chamoy, cucumbers, shrimp, tamarind sticks, and even bottles of beer. Having a small Modelo Negra presented upside down in a giant glass is pretty great.
I tasted the offerings at several restaurants, including Los Comales, La Guadalupana, Los Cabos, Mi Tierra, and Global Cafe. I am definitely a convert. The spices and citrus flavors of the michelada remind me of the things I grew up eating in California.
Here are more details on my top three micheladas in Memphis. Go check them out, or try making your own michelada magic at home.
El Toro Loco
El Toro Loco has a traditional-style michelada—the kind you are most likely to find in everyday Mexican establishments.
It’s flavorful and well-balanced, with just enough spicy kick to keep you on your toes.
It’s simple and bare bones, but definitely satisfies that michelada craving.
2617 Poplar Avenue
Tequila Town’s rendition of the michelada is something special. Instead of the usual salt-and-lime-lined rim, they opted for chamoy. Chamoy is a type of sauce that is sweet, spicy, salty, and sour.
It may seem like a whole lot of flavors to pack onto an already flavor-packed drink, but it works.
They also offer a spicier michelada variation with shrimp and cucumbers lining the rim—it tastes as good as it looks.
3967 Summer Avenue
Tacos y Mariscos México Express #2
At Tacos y Mariscos México Express #2, I really love the presentation of the michelada with a Modelo Negra and a tamarind stick. They also line the rim with chamoy and add some extra seasoning for good measure. It’s a fun one.
Very few drinks make you feel like a champ, but this one does!
6496 Winchester Road
Jonathan Amado is a Memphis-based photographer and local barista. Although a California native, he loves Memphis and utilizes his talents to cultivate community and support local businesses. @jonathanamado_