What’s the Difference Between a Chelada and a Michelada?

by | Feb 11, 2022 | Mexico | 1 comment

A Mexican Tradition: Mariscos and Michelada

Mariscos, or seafood, are a weekend staple here in Riviera Nayarit, Mexico. With its seaside location, shrimp, octopus, and oysters are always on the menu. Taking a stroll down the beach, or through any nearby pueblo downtown, will bring you to rows of tables with succulent dishes and savory (and spicy) salsas. What pairs well with mariscos? The options are nearly endless, but a classic match-up is the michelada.

What is a Michelada?

Here’s the basic recipe!

michelada Source: Unsplash by @michemix
Michelada Source: Unsplash by @michemix

The drink comprises a lager beer, juice from a lime, salsas, spices, and tomato juice (clamato). In some variations, add chiles for some bite. The glass is typically chilled and rim-dipped in lime and crunchy salt and/or chili powder.

In large flea markets, the drink is a go-to for those checking out wares at the vendor’s stalls under the beaming sun. It’s tasty, refreshing, and customizable! In fact, some slingers make a sort of spectacle out of it by garnishing the final product with candy, treats, or shrimp.

Some travel bloggers liken the first sip to that of a Bloody Mary. Personally, I would take my michelada on the beach any day.

Fun fact: The best beer for the drink is a Mexican lager. Think light and bubbly, like Corona Light, Modelo, or Pacífico.

Michelada Spices by Dale Hanstad (2021)
Michelada Spices by Dale Hanstad (2021)

The hard part is figuring out the perfect blend of secret spices to hit the spot time after time.

Here are some hints: Worcestershire sauce, Maggi sauce, your favorite hot sauce, and Tajín (for the rim).

Once you have the basics down, you can play with it at home.

It’s more fun to let each new restaurant and bar dazzle you with their own house rules, though!

What’s a Chelada?

Chelada at Karen's in Bucerias by Dale Hanstad (2021)
Chelada at Karen’s in Bucerias by Dale Hanstad (2021)

A chelada is the tame version of its cousin, the michelada. If you made a sour face at the thought of adding salsas and tomato juice to your beer, then this is the choice for you. It still has some flavor, but it’s a little milder.

The recipe calls for a salt-kissed mug, the juice of a lime or two, and a pinch of salt.

Mix the salt and lime juice first. Add ice (it’s a Mexico thing), and then pour your favorite beer over the mug.

A lot of people go for light beers on this one, but I prefer Negra Modelo for something a little richer. It’s delicious with a bowl of chips and guac.


Famous Place for Micheladas, Minisuper Beto by Dale Hanstad (2021)
Famous Place for Micheladas, Minisuper Beto by Dale Hanstad (2021)

When drinking micheladas or cheladas, it’s important to understand, it’s a cultural moment to relish.

The beverages are usually a beer and a half to two beers per drink, and the idea is to stop and enjoy the moment.

As the summer heat overtakes both Mexico and the US, I recommend these libations to anyone interested in a little indulging.


Have you found the perfect summer drink? I’m always on the lookout for new treats to try; recommendations are welcome!

by: Dale Hanstad