Norwood Tavern Crowned Michelada Rumble Champion at Santa Anita Park

By Hungry Hungry Harris / Photos by Tanner Grant

Judging by the massive crowd at last Saturday’s Michelada Rumble, there is no need to explain what a Michelada is anymore.  I remember writing about Micheladas back in 2015 with the very first Michelada Rumble and having to explain it to a lot of people.  Times have changed; restaurant chains to dive bars now offer their own version of the Michelada.  Even some of the vendors from the first rumble have grown from garage companies to full on brick and mortar restaurants, shout out to Michelada Mix 1. I said it back in 2015 and it still rings true today, “the Michelada is the hottest drink on the market right now.”

So that brings us to this past Saturday’s Michelada Rumble 4 at the Santa Anita Race Track.  The rumble hosted 30+ Michelada mix companies who claim they make the best Michelada in Southern California.  With a grand prize of $1000, a championship wrestling belt, but more importantly, bragging rights, these folks put their drink making skills to the test.  I’ve been lucky enough to lend my taste buds as a judge.  But there were no official judges this time, the people in attendance judged and chose the winner.

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Like past Michelada Rumbles, the music played a huge part in making this event great.  With live performances by the Original Mary Jane Girls with Maxi and Cheri performing their hits “In my House”, “All Night Long” and “Candy Man” and Selena cover band featuring Karol Posadas playing all of Selena’s hits, the day was set.  The Funk Freaks were also playing everyone’s favorite funk and freestyle music.

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Lucha Libre made a return for Round 4, trying to get a good view of the ring was impossible.  People packed in tight to watch these awesome performers do their thing.  Wrestlers like the Crazy Chickens, El Mariachi Loco, Joey Ryan, Ruby Raze, Laura Clare James and more gave us one hell of a show.

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But let’s be honest, everyone was really there for the Micheladas.  Each company was able to display, sell and sample their products.  The infield stayed packed, every vendor had huge lines and people battled the weather to get their mouths around a chamoy rimmed plastic cup filled with some of the best damn Micheladas in the country.  It was awesome to see everyone’s own variation of the drink, that’s how far this drink has evolved; it isn’t just tomato juice and beer anymore.  There was something for everyone’s taste buds; there was spicy, sweet, salty and sour.

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Like I said earlier, I used to judge this event, but this time we left it to the fans.  The Rumble wanted to hear who the people thought had the best Michelada.    As I walked the infield, the usual suspects were killing it.  Michelada Mix 1, Camarones Cabrones, La Chuperia and the eventual champion Norwood Tavern were working their asses off getting through their never ending lines.  I made sure to get at least a taste from each one of those vendors.  Michelada Mix 1, Norwood and La Chuperia all use shrimp to dress up their drinks, so of course, I’m in for a couple of those.  Camorones Cabrones still have one of the most unique and refreshing Micheladas I’ve ever tried.  They use a cucumber based mix, and with Saturday’s heat, it was absolutely what I needed to quench my thirst.  Another standout was Michelada Mixx’s Gummy Chelada.  Not only did it have a tasty mix but the lid was covered with spicy gummy rings.  My mouth is watering as I’m typing this.  Sure I didn’t get to try 21 different Micheladas like years past, but the ones I did try have left a lasting impression on me.

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Our fan vote went to Norwood Tavern, serving up a delicious tomato based Michelada topped with huge shrimp and cucumber.  Norwood has been a favorite of mine since the beginning and it’s awesome to finally see them come out on top.  One thing I have learned about the Michelada Rumble is that we aren’t going to make everyone happy when it comes to crowning a champion.  Whether it’s my opinion or the opinion of my peers, people are going to be unhappy with the results.  I totally understand that, but at the end of the day let’s rejoice in the fact that the Michelada Rumble is about putting these family run businesses in the spotlight.  Everyone is out there making money and making a name for themselves and that is a beautiful thing.  Sure we crown a champion at the end, but the Rumble is about having a great F’ing time with friends and family, showcasing these companies and when those two things happen everybody wins.

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All in all, the event was a huge success.  My gauge of success was the crowd.  Everyone looked so happy to be there, from the people who bought tickets to the folks working the vendor booths.  Everyone was there to have a good time and it definitely showed.  Something else that stood out to me was the determination and dedication these Michelada Mix creators had toward their product.  When I asked them questions about their mix they explained everything to me so proudly.  I could have probably sat there and picked their minds for hours.  I want to thank Super Steve for putting on this event, I am proud to have been a part of it.  Cheers and I look forward to the next one.

PHOTO GALLERY: MICHELADA RUMBLE ROUND 4

More from Hungry Hungry Harris | Food Writer
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