Michelada, Margarita, and Guacamole Recipes
One of the best things about staying in a holiday rental over a hotel is the ability to entertain. Here in San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, I’ve been perfecting micheladas, margaritas and guacamole for entertaining Mexico-style.
For groups of friends and families renting holiday houses, entertaining happens during most meals. But for us as a couple entertaining happens less often and simply means inviting new friends, neighbours or even the owners, over for drinks or dinner. As we ended up doing in Ceret, Alberobello, Sardinia, and Austin (twice).
We are suckers for entertaining. When we had a home (i.e in our life before we became full-time globetrotters), any excuse and we’d throw a party: cocktail parties, fancy dress parties, dinner parties, you name it. And, even if I do say so myself, we threw a pretty good dinner party. Their success I largely attribute to Terence’s meticulously presented multi-course meals, and my expertly mixed drinks.
When we partnered with HomeAway this year to undertake our 12-month global grand tour for Grantourismo and they confirmed our suspicions that holiday rental types tended to be foodies, we were chuffed. We immediately envisaged lots of cooking, eating, drinking, and entertaining in our ‘homes away from home’. And we have entertained this year — in Dubai, London, Ceret, Alberobello, Sardinia, Venice, and Austin — and it’s been fun.
We’ve always been the kinds of travellers who bring back local liquor from wherever we go: rum from Cuba, tequila from Mexico, pisco from Chile. When we packed up our apartment in Dubai, we had a whole liquor cabinet full of half-finished bottles to give away. Are you one of those travellers, too?
We’ll also bring back a local cocktail recipe or two. When we returned from Cuba we were making mojitos, after Chile I was mixing pisco sours, and naturally, following our first trip to Mexico many years ago we were serving margaritas.
So what we have loved about being in holiday rentals this year is the fact that we don’t have to wait until we get ‘home’, that we can buy a bottle of something native to the destination we’re in, learn how to make some local drinks, and over the course of a couple of weeks actually get to drink the stuff. Sometimes with new friends.
On this stay in Mexico, which has lasted one wonderful whole month, I have perfected two things I’ve been making for many years — the margarita and its perfect accompaniment, guacamole — and I learned how to make something new, the michelada. Here are my Michelada, Margarita, and Guacamole recipes .
We first tried this spicy beer cocktail one Saturday at La Lagunilla market in Mexico City where every young hipster there seemed to be nursing a hangover — and a michelada. It was fantastic — it was refreshing as a cold beer should be on a warm day, but it also had some kick to it.
I tried many micheladas afterwards, but none matched the simplicity and zing of that first one. I tried a number of recipes and the ones I liked least had a long list of ingredients, including tabasco, worcestershire, and, as crazy as it sounds, soy sauce.
I also tried, but didn’t like, the pre-made michelada mixers by different brands such as Maggi, which you can buy as a whole kit with bottles of tomato juice, Michelada Mix, and Michelada Spice Mix at Mega in San Miguel de Allende. Cute idea. The Michelada Spice Mix, however, is excellent — these are usually sold in small plastic/glass bottles much as cooking spices are and include a tasty mix of coarse and ground chiles, spices plus dried lime.
My recipe is based on the micheladas the guys at La Lagunilla make.
- 1 lime
- Michelada spice mix (or DIY mix of dried chile flakes, chile powder, dried lime powder, coarse salt)
- Ice cubes, ½ glass
- Tomato juice, a splash to ¼ of a glass, according to taste
- 1 beer (330/375ml/12 oz) (I like lighter beers like Corona or Bohemia, Terence likes beers with more depth like Negra Modelo or Dos Equis; both are fine)
- Halve and squeeze the lime to create juice.
- Pour enough lime juice to fill a saucer or small side plate to be able to dip the rim of your beer glass into the juice.
- Sprinkle your michelada mix into a circular shape on another side plate, or just cover the plate if you’re making enough for a group.
- Turn your glass upside down into the lime juice then into the chile mix so that the rim of the glass is thick with red spice.
- Throw the ice cubes into the glass, then the tomato juice, then pour in your beer.
- In Mexico, they don’t pour the beer on an angle but straight from above so that there’s a thick head of foam on the beer.
- Do experiment – we also saw glasses being dipped into tomato juice instead of lime juice.
The margarita is easily the most popular cocktail in Mexico and Mexicans, especially young Mexicans, drink them as much as the gringos do. Like any cocktail, margaritas come in many different styles, forms and flavours these days, and while making them with exotic fruits appears popular, we like our margaritas pure and simple — served with ice (‘on the rocks’ or rough hand-crushed ice) rather than blended with crushed ice like a Slush Puppy, and made with fresh limes, never a Margarita Mix (unless you’re desperate and can’t get fresh limes of course). Use a margarita glass or champagne coupe if you can.
- 1 part Tequila
- 1 part Triple Sec (or Cointreau)
- 1 part fresh lime juice
- Dip the rim of the glass into the lime juice, then into salt, as we did with the michelada above.
- Throw in some crushed ice, then the Triple Sec (or Cointreau), then the tequila, then the Lime Juice, and stir.
- You could put a slice of lime on the side of the glass.
I’ve been making guacamole for many years, since our first trip to Mexico 17 years ago. When we lived in Sydney, for a few years there we had a ritual during the summer months where friends would come over for sunset drinks (we had an apartment with sublime Sydney harbour vistas) and we’d drink mojitos or margaritas and eat guacamole.
Over the years I’ve tried many different variations of this delicious avocado dip but I’ve always returned to my favourite recipe, a simple, authentic Mexican guacamole made with few ingredients to allow the fresh creamy flavours of the avocadoes to shine through. Where my recipe differs to the authentic recipe is that I use sweet red onions instead of white onions.
How you make guacamole, whether you mash the ingredients together with a fork or use a mortar and pestle or molcajete is a subject much-debated among Mexican chefs, cooks, and foodies. One chef told us it was essential to use a molcajete while another was adamant it was not, that the molcajete should only be used for dry not wet ingredients. As most people probably won’t have a molcajete sitting on their shelf, the instructions that follow require a fork.
The key to a great guacamole is the quality and freshness of the ingredients, which should be at their best. Look for avocadoes that are soft but still have some firmness to them, and firm, sweet, red tomatoes. Guacamole should also be eaten right away. I wouldn’t begin making it until friends arrive. Whatever you do, don’t make it beforehand and refrigerate it. It’s so easy you can prep it while you chat and have a drink. One of our favourite Mexican restaurants makes it to order, right at the side of your table.
- 2 large avocadoes, black-skinned Haas avocadoes if you can get them
- Juice of 1 lime (optional)
- ¼ red onion (although white will do too), finely diced
- handful of coriander/cilantro
- ½ tomato, finely diced
- 1 chile (Serrano if you can get it, though I know jalapeno will have to suffice for many people not living in Mexico or the USA), finely diced
- Slice the avocadoes in half, remove the seeds, scoop out the avocado and pop it into a bowl.If you are going to eat the guacamole immediately, add lime juice now – if you’re not, don’t, as the liquid of the juice rises to the top if it sits in the fridge, which is not nice at all.
- Add the onion, tomato and coriander/cilantro, chile, and salt to taste. Mash! Simple as that.
- I like my guacamole to be creamy yet chunky, but if you prefer a smooth consistency you’ll be working at it for a while. Whatever you do, don’t blend.
- The only other variation I like is to use a red capsicum or pimiento if I can’t get chiles.
- Scoop it into a bowl, garnish with a little coriander/cilantro and serve plain corn tortilla chips on the side.