Micheladas — the savory, often spicy beer cocktails that originated in Mexico — have become increasingly popular and over-the-top in L.A., where you can now find them garnished with shellfish or with sticks of candy. Considering that craft beer is booming in L.A., it's surprising that so few places actually use craft beer in their micheladas — most versions dress fancy but still rely on bland, mass-market Mexican lagers.
Time to seek 10 of L.A.’s best craft beer micheladas, listed here alphabetically.
Angel City Brewery
This revamped Arts District brewery, now run by Alan Newman and parent company Alchemy & Science, houses a sprawling taproom with art deco flourishes and plenty of murals. Most of its beers riff on established styles, but Srirachelada goes further. It amounts to a bottled (or kegged) beer cocktail and includes Sriracha, Clamato, lime juice, pickled banana pepper juice, Worcestershire sauce and agave syrup. Srirachelada delivers a slow burn, served over ice with a chili salt rim. Srirachelada is also available in a limited number of 22-ounce bombers on bottle shop shelves around the city. 216 S. Alameda St., downtown; (213) 622-1261, angelcitybrewery.com.
Bellwether chef Ted Hopson and his partner/beverage director Ann-Marie Verdi both worked at Father’s Office, so they clearly know their way around craft beer. At their seasonal restaurant in Studio City, offerings are a bit more freewheeling. For instance, Verdi’s Easy Like Sunday Michelada ($10) combines tomato juice, A1 Steak Sauce, lime juice, Ballast Point Longfin Lager and house carrot-habanero hot sauce that leaves a lingering spice on the tongue. Each pint comes with a salted rim and lime wedge garnish. Add a float of house-infused habanero vodka for $5 to really bring the heat. 13251 Ventura Blvd., Studio City; (818) 285-8184, thebellwetherla.com.
"I always feel like, somebody’s watching me." The Michael Jackson chorus in Rockwell’s 1984 hit would apply at chef Ricardo Diaz’s sprawling Uptown Whittier restaurant, where massive faces drawn on mottled walls look down at diners. Colonia Publica's micheladas are available in nine varieties. Play it safe with a basic Chelada ($7) with beer, lime and salt, or upgrade to the IPAlada ($9), a tangy michelada with IPA, grapefruit, lime, bitters and salt. 6717 Greenleaf Ave., Whittier; (562) 693-2621, coloniagroupinc.com.
Connie & Ted’s
This contemporary, New England–style seafood palace from chef Michael Cimarusti and business partner Donato Poto also has a compelling bar program. Beverage director Hoang Nguyen created a michelada ($9) for brunch that is available daily, if you ask. The base is Almanac Beer Co.’s Golden Gate Gose, a Leipzig-style Gose beer from San Francisco brewed with sea salt, lemon verbena and coriander. The michelada mix gets its spice from tabasco, which hits the back of your throat and stings your lips. Each stein comes with a salted rim and lime garnish. 8171 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood; (323) 848-2722, connieandteds.com.
Silver Lake’s “urban taco fabricators” pride themselves on tacos and micheladas in a two-room space with plenty of brick, wood and communal seating. Owner Summer Stearns came up with the concept for Diablo’s michelada, which lets you mix and match DiabloPops with either draft or bottled beer. Just add $3 to the beer’s cost. For instance, a spicy passionfruit-cayenne popsicle works well with Black Market Hefeweizen. Other DiabloPops include tangy yuzu-jalapeño and tomato-lime (spiced with tabasco). The rim of your mug is available lined with gray salt and chile de arbol. Be patient, since it takes a melted popsicle to get full integration. As manager Danielle Press says, “It’s an acceptable way to play with food as an adult.” 3129 Sunset Blvd., Silver Lake; (323) 666-4666, diablotaco.com.
Eagle Rock Brewery Public House
Available during weekend brunch, Eagle Rock Brewery's michelada ($9) features Clamato, fresh lime juice, Worcestershire sauce and Tapatio. From there, it’s brewer's choice when it comes to the beer selection. During our michelada experience, ERB co-founder Ting Su selected Skill Czech, a Czech-style pilsner, which melded beautifully with the rest of the cocktail and complemented the spicy Tajin rim on the pint glass. 1627 Colorado Blvd., Eagle Rock; (323) 739-0081, eaglerockpublichouse.com.
Café Gratitude’s Mexican spinoff in West Hollywood hosts hearty vegan fare and a knockout patio. Still, the strongest lure could be bar manager Jason Eisner’s cocktails. He features two michelada variations. Michelada de la Madre ($10) features Worcestershire made in-house with tamarind and herbs, a vivid green cube of lemon jalapeño basil ice that helps prevent dilution, Eel River California Blonde Ale and drops of habanero bitters to finish. Ring My Bell ($12) is even more elaborate. Eisner uses roasted red pepper and rosemary instead of classic tomato juice, plus Uinta Wyld Extra Pale Ale, tamari and lemon juice. As the garnish, a roasted red pepper paleta and matching sorbet float act like a pickleback as they melt. Both drinks are served on the rocks in pint glasses with chipotle Himalayan rock salt rims. 8905 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood; (323) 978-2170, graciasmadreweho.com.
Craig Min’s midcentury Colonial coffeehouse in Silver Lake is best known for flavorful signature beverages, which extend to the beer realm. Beverage manager James Garay crafts a Japanese-inspired michelada ($7) with a spicy, tart house mix that incorporates tomato juice, Maldon sea salt, yuzu kosho, cayenne pepper and a shiso leaf garnish. LAMILL's michelada relies on Lefthand Brewing Polestar Pilsner, which Garay selected for body and because it’s his favorite crisp, German-style, American-made Pilsner. The rim of the glass hosts powdered yukari (red shiso leaf) and salt. 1636 Silver Lake Blvd., Silver Lake; (323) 663-4441, lamillcoffee.com.
Love & Salt
Chefs Michael Fiorelli and Rebecca Merhej get the most culinary attention at Love & Salt, but don’t miss out on the bar program from Italian-born cocktail veteran Vincenzo Marianella. Bar manager Darius Mihaescu and his team execute Marianella’s spirited vision. A michelada is available on weekends as part of the restaurant’s bottomless offerings ($18) and features Organic V8 tomato juice, fresh lime juice, tangy Tabasco pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce, apricot liqueur, silver tequila and Craftsman 1903 lager. Hepp’s Salt Co. Spanish rosemary sea salt lines the rim of the glass. 317 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach; (310) 545-5252, loveandsaltla.com.
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The Burbank Simmzy's is the only outpost of the Simms brothers’ gastropub chain where you’ll find a michelada ($7.50). It arrives on a branded wood surfboard in three parts, including a can of Maui Brewing Bikini Blonde lager, a pint glass with ice and spicy salt rim, and a sangrita. Simmzy’s punchy sangrita is inspired by the style inherent to the Lake Chapala region of Jalisco, which skips tomato and includes house-made pomegranate grenadine, fresh orange and lime juices, ancho chile powder, sliced jalapeño and hot sauce. Pour the sangrita and beer to your preferred dilution and be sure to sip through a straw to get the full effect, since the spicy-tart mix sinks to the bottom of the glass. 3000 W. Olive Ave., Burbank; (818) 962-2500, simmzys.com.