In 2003, food writer Carolynn Carreño described having to instruct LA bartenders in the art of making a michelada. After she explained the drink's typical ingredients—beer, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, Maggi seasoning—the bartenders often "looked at me strangely, especially when I got to the ice part, but I got what I wanted."
Odd as it may sound to beer lovers and Mexican food fans, the michelada was still a relatively foreign idea in the US a mere 14 years ago. (Google trends data backs this up, with most of the searches since 2004 coming from Central and South America, not the US.) In the last decade, however, the michelada has cemented itself on the menus of restaurants and bars across the US as the interest in the so-called "Mexican bloody mary"—though it is much, much more than this—has grown.
Some macro breweries like Anheuser-Busch and Heineken (who acquired Tecate in 2010) have caught on and launched ready-to-drink, canned renditions of the michelada. Other companies such as Micheladas Antojitos and Don Chelada did something different by creating just-add-beer styrofoam cups that have been rimmed with their special spice blends (usually a chile-lime salt mixture). It was these liquor store versions of the michelada that I remember from family get-togethers. It was already common to see the moms and aunts and uncles in my family add lime or lemon and salt to whatever beer they had on hand. In my family, beer doctored with a citrus-plus-salt addition was just what you did, for American and Mexican beers alike.
But the flavors of a michelada need not be confined to beer cocktails alone.
With that in mind, I took inspiration from Prohibition Bakery on the Lower East Side in Manhattan, which offers a Mai Tai Cupcake with coconut flavors in the cake and a pineapple/rum filling, as well as a Negroni Cupcake with gin, Campari, and orange flavors.
Sin City Cupcakes in Las Vegas makes boozy baked goods, too, such as its Redbull Cherry Bomb with Red Bull and cherry-flavored vodka flavors, and the Red Velvet Backseats, a red velvet and red wine cupcake.
RECIPE: Michelada Cupcakes
For these michelada cupcakes, I created a cake base flavored with Negra Modelo, a dark Mexican beer. Poking holes with a toothpick in the just-out-the-oven cupcakes and brushing them with more Modelo ensures a nice beer flavor. Fresh-squeezed lime juice and a heavy sprinkling of the chile-lime-salt mixture known as Tajín (which no michelada should be ever be served without!) round out the flavors in the buttercream. Candy some lime peel for decoration, and rim half of the cupcakes with more Tajín for a fun way to make these cupcakes really reminiscent of a michelada.