Chavela: The Mexican Beer Cocktail Bloody Mary Fans Will Love

Drinking a beer neat is a dependable go-to. With an ever-broadening craft beer market, modern brews cover everything from experimental fruit smoothie sours to good ole classic lagers (via TIME). But if something on tap doesn't catch the eye, try mixing other drinks with your beer instead. These cocktails are ideal vessels to soften the buzz by dilution — like with freshly squeezed grapefruit or orange juice. While easy to concoct at home, they are usually a little rare to find during a night out.

There is a popular exception — Micheladas. These Mexican spiced beer creations are taking bars by storm, with both straightforward budget versions and over-the-top renditions gaining popularity, reports Los Angeles Times. While most associate this cocktail with beer, tomato juice, hot sauce, and lime, there is an abundance of regional variations in Mexico — known by various names, explains VinePair. So let's dive into one especially tasty distinction, the Chavela.

The origins of the Chavela

A Chavela is a type of Cerveza Preparada — a variety of Mexican beer cocktails. The drink is prepared with tomato juice, lime juice, hot sauce, and of course, a beer. Similarly to a Bloody Mary, it's often served with a salt rim but without the cocktail's signature celery stick.

Michelada and Chavela nomenclature overlaps — ingredients and names can interchange based on who's mixing. Regardless, the Chavela does have a few generally defining characteristics. Its base beer is typically a clara, a lighter, clearer lager than the Michelada's oscura, an amber ale. Additionally, this beer cocktail usually is simpler, without additions like Worcestershire Sauce or clam juice. The lower intensity makes it frequently paired with a tequila shot, which can be mixed in or served on the side, reports Craft Beering.

Chavelas originated in Mexico during the '40s, devised by bar owners to elongate beer-drinking experiences and increase profits from one case of beer. Now popularized as a hangover cure, Chavelas are frequent candidates for Sunday happy hours on both sides of the border (via Chron).

Substitutions and experimentation are encouraged

Chavelas are quick to combine and easy to batch. Before serving, the glass rims are rubbed with lime and flipped into a salt and chili mixture. Per each beer, the liquid mix incorporates around three ounces of tomato juice, juice of half a lime, and five to six drops of hot sauce. These liquid components sans lager can be pre-mixed, refrigerated, or stirred together in the glass with ice. The beer, preferably a Mexican lager, is poured on top, and sometimes a splash of tequila is added, explains Food52.

Substitutions are common — feel free to adjust based on personal taste. Simmer and Sauce replaces lemon for lime, noting how these drinks feel lighter than a Bloody Mary. Tipsy Bartender concocts a Chavela similar to a Michelada, with Worcestershire sauce and Clamato instead of tomato juice. There's no wrong methodology — and experimentation is encouraged, as long as the proportions are carefully considered. And even if a batch goes wrong, no fear — there's still a beer left over.