I lick the rim, instantly causing an involuntary spasm in my cheeks elicited from the combination of citrus, pepper, and salt; my mouth waters, so I part my lips and take a long, slow pull from the frosty glass; g-u-u-u-u-l-p, g-u-u-u-u-l-p, g-u-u-u-u-l-p; Mexican lager, lime, salt, umami cascade across my tongue, against my throat, and into my stomach. I open my eyes, and the dream is gone…
I started drinking micheladas in 2002 at the newly opened Oseguera’s Mexican restaurant in Springdale, owned and operated by a trio of second generation brothers who learned the intricate tools of the trade from the family establishment located in Hot Springs. Oseguera’s quickly became a weekly destination for me because of the exceptional hospitality, incredibly authentic food, and the house Michelada. I still fantasize about their higado encellado, or beef liver with caramelized onions, delicately prepared with lard laden refried beans and coarse ground corn tortillas. But the michelada was, out of the many wonderful items offered, the thing I craved the most. The first time one of the gregarious brothers brought a tray full out to a table full of friends, some of which hailed from central Mexico, I reached for the sweating, footed, bulbous glass cautiously because I had never heard of such a thing. The opaque goblet was rimed with chili salt, teeming with foam that ceilinged a dirty brown beer mixture. I sipped, slurped, and gulped like Harry Dean Stanton emerging from the desert.
There was always a swirl of mystery around the Oseuguera michelada recipe; the boys were as welcoming and accommodating as any I’d ever met, but they were tight lipped and elusive about the ingredients of their house beer cocktail. In fact, just before publication I contacted Anthony Oseguera, one of the brothers who now owns Mangos taqueria in Fayetteville, in an attempt to procure their coveted recipe, and his response was kind, but as vague as ever regarding the original ingredient. I always ordered it with Tecate, but it was just as delicious with Negra Modelo; I could decipher fresh lime juice, salt, something spicy, and something earthy, umami. But what the hell was that earthy, umami component? I suspect that it could be Maggi, a dark liquid seasoning found in Latin and Asian markets that has a similar consistency and flavor as soy sauce, but is sans soy.
These days micheladas can be found throughout the High South region at a number of Tex-mex and authentic taquerias, and most offer the base recipe with tomato juice, which I’ve learned is heresy for most diehards. Although rarely do they compare to the Oseguera recipe, I still order them all the time, La Hacienda in Northeast Fayetteville makes a solid version, and Charley’s taqueria in Springdale makes one filled with a lime, lemon, pickles, meat sticks, and poached shrimp; and even though it seems more than a little superfluous, I order it almost every time I dine there
So, I still think about, fantasize about that first michelada from Oseguera’s, which sadly, subsequently closed a few years later, leaving a pretty substantial gap in the life that defined the culinary me. It’s true, I’m a nostalgic guy; and I fell head over heels in love with Tammye, who later became my wife, over many sexy, blurry eyed evenings of queso fundido, higaldo encellado, and the salty, ethereal kiss of the michelada. It’s my own damn fault….thump thump.
Check out my Ozark Michelada recipe here using Ozark Beer Company’s American Pale Ale - Enjoy!
Salt and Smoked Paprika, for rimming the glass
¼ cup fresh squeezed lime juice – probably 3 or 4 medium sized limes
1 can Ozark American Pale Ale
3 shakes of Worcestershire sauce
3 shakes Cholula hot sauce
1 shake of Maggi
Freshly ground pepper and lime wedge for garnish
Place enough salt and smoked paprika in a wide, shallow dish to cover. Rub the rim of the glass with lime wedge, then dip glasses into salt, paprika mix.
Place lime juice, sauce shakes in the glass, mix, add ice, then beer, top with a few grinds of pepper, garnish with lime, serve, enjoy.
*Keep in mind that it’s perfectly fine to add a splash of tomato juice to this recipe, but please don’t add tomato until after you’ve tried it without – Gulp Gulp!