A Mexican staple, it’s safe to say the Michelada hasn’t quite yet found its footing in American restaurants and bars — we think that should change. The drink, traditionally made with just Mexican lager, hot sauce, lime, and salt, is a simple, sessionable recipe that belongs on your brunch table and at taco night.
While many bartenders in the U.S. serve their Micheladas with the addition of tomato juice or Bloody Mary mix, the classic recipe can easily be tweaked — some prefer to add just a dash of hot sauce, while others go full-force on the spice.
There are countless hot sauces on today’s market, but not all of them pair well with the salty, citrusy flavors of the Michelada. The VinePair team tasted lots and lots of variations of the cocktail, using different hot sauces, to find the best of the best. Here are six of our favorite hot sauces to use in your next Michelada.
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Hailing from New Iberia, La., Louisiana Brand Hot Sauce has been around since 1928, and it’s easy to see why the brand has such a loyal fanbase. The sauce stood out to us for its salty, high-acid recipe, which goes beautifully with an ice-cold Mexican lager and a squeeze of lime. You may not need to add extra salt to this one — on its own, it makes for an enticing Michelada that beckons for the next sip. Price: $2.39 (6-ounce bottle)
On the front of the palate, this hot sauce offers a great kick when mixed into a Michelada, and its spice settles into a slightly milder flavor than its competitors, making it a great choice for those with lower heat tolerances and preferences. An unexpected plus? Its viscosity is low, allowing it to easily comingle with your beer of choice. Price: $2.47 (5-ounce bottle)
Veering away from the traditional flavors of hot sauce, cayenne’s fruity aromas are complemented by the puckering taste of fresh lime. The garlic in this Tabasco sauce is mild, which allows the drink to maintain the quaffable nature that makes it such a summertime favorite. Price: $4.99 (5-ounce bottle)
The hot sauce of choice for those in the know, Red Clay’s original flavor has a simple heat to it that will season your drink beautifully without overpowering. While allowing the beer to shine, bright spice coats the palate with a heat that’s not too spicy; not too mild. You’ll want to keep this one on hand for seasoning your favorite rice bowl — and of course, for the next round of Micheladas. Price: $10 (5-ounce bottle)
Simple and relatively mild, this hot sauce mixes into the most quaffable Michelada we tasted all day. While we noticed some of the thicker sauces separated from the beer after a few minutes and fell to the bottom of our glasses, the thin texture of this sauce lends itself well to fusing with beer. Price: $0.97 (6-ounce bottle)
Adding more than just heat to the mix, this slightly smoky offering brings its own distinct flavor to the cocktail, adding depth without overwhelming the mild flavor of most Mexican lagers. This chipotle hot sauce is not as spicy as Cholula’s original flavor, which makes for a Michelada that’s highly flavorful and easy to throw back. Price: $5.99 (5-ounce bottle)