The Real Difference Between Bloody Marys And Micheladas

When it comes to savory cocktails with mysterious beginnings, the bloody mary and michelada share more than a spicy kick and solid squirt of citrus. Conflicting origin stories and endless recipe variations are just the beginnings of the DNA that these popular north- and south-of-the-border day drinking favorites have in common.

Spicy, tomatoey, and finished with fresh garnishes, the bloody mary has been a daytime drinking staple for the past century, or more, depending on who you talk to. The origins of this well-loved hangover helper are much debated. Imbibe Magazine describes multiple competing backstories, tracing the drink's alleged roots to a famed Parisian bar, a New York comedian, the infamous Mary I of England (who was dubbed "Bloody Mary"), and the tale of a lonely waitress at a Chicago saloon.

The michelada's roots have a few possible backstories as well. Some versions reference a gentleman named Michel Esper, a frequent guest of a sporting club in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi. Australian Bartender reports that Esper would frequently order beer mixed with lemon juice and served in a chilled glass with a salted rim. "Chela" is Mexican slag for beer, hence michelada translates to Michel's beer. Huffington Post shares a pared-down explanation of the cocktail's name, a Spanish portmanteau of "mi" (me), "chela" (beer), and "helada" (frosty or cold), which together mean "my cold beer."

Bloody marys are famously based on vodka, while micheladas begin with a light lager

Another commonality that the cocktails share is their sour, salty, and oftentimes spicy and savory notes. Depending on the beverage, these flavors come from some sort of citrus, namely lemon or lime; a deep brown flavor-enhancing sauce such as Maggi or Worcestershire; some sort of tomato-based juice or cocktail, and a spicy element such as a hot sauce or chili powder (via Tales of the Cocktail). Now that we've got the similarities locked down, we can dig into the real difference between these two beloved brunch cocktails. Bloody marys are famously based on vodka while micheladas begin with a light lager.

Once that main difference has been established, a world of savory cocktails emerges. Stateside, popular additions to the bloody mary include celery salt as well as garish garnishes that could be anything from poached shrimp to chicken wings or even mini sliders or slices of pizza (via Thrillist). But when it comes to the garnish game, micheladas are often equally over the top. If you want to check out some of the wildest micheladas north of the border, the Dallas Observer has rounded up a trio of places serving the cocktails topped off with everything from tamarind-coated fruit to slices of crunchy jicama and fresh fruit to Takis Fuego chips and ceviche.