As former Weekly staffer Mark C. Anderson once wrote in these pages, “It’s not that chavelas are that hard to find, it’s that most gringos don’t even know they exist.” Hear, hear.
I was first introduced to this warm-weather elixir in 2014, when some friends and I embarked on a series of cycling adventures in the Salinas Valley. Inevitably, we would arrive in one of the four South County cities – Soledad, Gonzales, Greenfield or King City – ready to fill our bellies and slake our thirst.
The first time, when we looked around at other tables we saw giant mugs filled with what looked like a bloody mary, but that were also fitted with a contraption holding a Corona bottle tipped almost vertically into the drink, which would drain more beer into it as one drank. We asked our server, “We’ll have two of those please.”
So it was that I had my first chavela. I’ve had a few since, but it had been awhile. On a recent, sunny day in Seaside, the urge struck me anew. So I hopped onto my bike and rolled to Mariscos Puerto Nuevo on Broadway, in the city’s revitalized downtown.
Served in a 32-ounce pitcher, the chavela preparada at Mariscos hit the spot just like I knew it would. With a mixture of two beers, Clamato, lime juice, Tapatio, “other spices” and garnishes of shrimp cocktail, carrot, celery and cucumber, it’s a summery drink with a spicy, satiating twist.
It’s also a refreshing, delicious small meal and big drink in one – especially with free chips and salsa thrown in.
MARISCOS PUERTO NUEVO is at 580 Broadway Ave., Seaside. 583-0411, mariscospn.com