11/02/2011 04:47 pm ET | Updated Aug 31, 2012

How To Make A Margarita

Leave bland, syrupy margarita mix behind: A beautifully balanced, sweet-sour cocktail isn't hard to put together from scratch. First, chef Iliana de la Vega, of The Culinary Institute of America, explains how to rim a glass using a cut lime and crunchy kosher salt. She then blends a small amount of ice, triple sec, tequila, freshly squeezed lime juice and a small amount of simple syrup in a blender. (A quick pulse here is key: You want the ice to retain some of its texture.) To finish, she pours the margarita into the salted glass, garnished with a slice of lime.

For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.

Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Chef Iliana de la Vega of the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you the kitchen basic: how to make a margarita.

A margarita is a drink made with tequila and lime juice. Everybody relates this to Mexican cooking.

Before we start blending all the ingredients, let's do the rim. I have salt; this is kosher salt. If you like the more crunchy taste of it, kosher salt will be good. If you like more fine salt, you can also use sea salt. And we need a lime - so let's grab one and rub some of it around the rim. Now you'll be sure that when you press the rim of the glass into the salt, you will grab it. Use as much salt as you like: I love it with a lot of salt, but that's just me. Here we have our decoration for our margaritas, a lime wedge on the edge of the glass.

So let's say we put about three-quarters of a cup of ice here in our blender. We have the triple sec - and for making two margaritas, I have three ounces of triple sec. Triple sec is a liquor made with oranges. And here we have tequila. We have two ounces and a little bit more - just a little, just for taste. We have freshly squeezed lime juice: I have three and a half ounces here - up to four if you like. And personally I prefer the margaritas without simple syrup, but I have noticed that in the United States, you like it a little bit less tart. So I will just add a little bit of simple syrup (simple syrup is just sugar dissolved in water).

So now we go to the noisy blender. Just do a few strokes, so you don't have a frozen margarita, and still you have the crunchiness of some ice cubes. Let's pour this here, and some here in the other glass. So this is how we make a margarita! It's very simple, as you can see.