My modern “me” time is defined by an unfortunate combination of fatalism and procrastination, which can make it tough to get rolling on a weekend morning.
Brunch has become a bigger part of my life.
And brunch, to me, means red drinks.
Bloody marys, naturally (Cerberus Brewing Co. makes a fine one). But that’s not the only option.
Pikes Pub reader Daniel O’Brien wrote to me some time ago to share his thoughts, and urge me to do the same, about what’s known as a Red Beer, Bloody Beer, Mexican Bloody Mary or — generally — a Michelada, a style of drink blending beer and tomato paste or juice.
“Although not of ‘Craft Beer’ origins per se, it might entice a few readers to try one or a few and include varying recipes & a lineage as to the who, why, when and how,” said O’Brien, adding that his personal investigations had led to “discrepancies, opinions and conflicts” in the libation’s backstory.
He is indeed correct about the delicious historical murkiness of this blended Mexican brew, which is often served chilled and with lime juice, assorted sauces, spices and chile peppers. Numerous variations can be found throughout Mexico, and around the world in cans (with names such as “Chelada,” aka “my little cold one”) from major brewers including Budweiser.
Wikipedia cites two popular origin tales for the drink. One is simply a portmanteau, or mash-up, of the Spanish phrase “mi chela helada,” which translates roughly to “my ice cold beer.”
The other dates to the 1960s and a sports club in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. A man named Michel Esper “began to ask for his beer with lime, salt, ice, and a straw, in a cup called ‘chabela’, as if it were a beer lemonade (limonada). Members of the club started asking for beer as ‘Michel’s lemonade’, with the name shortening over time to Michelada.”
On its website, Los Angeles-based Montoya’s Michelada shares an alternate, “cooler version” of the legend, set in the same Mexican town in 1910, involving an altogether different “Michel.”
“Legend has it that ‘El General’ Don Augusto Michel would frequent a local cantina in San Luis Potosi with his war-weary soldiers. In an effort to lift their spirits after a long day of combat, Michel would order a beer with lime and add hot sauce. Supposedly, the unnamed owner of the cantina named the spicy concoction after Michel, combining ‘michel’ and ‘chelada,’ or ‘cold one.’”
However the drink came to be, it didn’t remain just a local favorite for long.
O’Brien shared a recipe for one of his favorite twists on the Michelada:
1 —very clean 16-ounce glass mug.
1 — 12-ounce Coors Banquet, as cold as possible.
3 (or more) — green olives with or without pimento.
(Optional) — a dribble or more of olive juice brine.
The rest: a fully chilled tomato juice (any brand), capped off with a twist of Louisiana Hot Sauce.
“Share & Enjoy the Game!” he said.
Because this was supposed to be a Super Bowl column, many moons ago.
Clearly fate had other plans.