Tip #1: Always use fresh lime juice. ALWAYS. If you're making a party-sized portion, a simple citrus press (under $10 at any kitchen or home store) will save you a lot of time (and hand-strain).
Tip #2: Instead of a generic Triple Sec, invest in a quality liqueur (like Cointreau or Combier). Even a smaller bottle will last you a while, since this element is used in small portions.
Tip #3: As for tequila, you don't need to go fancy, but 100% Agave Blanco Tequila is mandatory. There are a million reasons why this is true, but you have a drink to make, so just trust us on this one.
Tip #4: To salt or not to salt is entirely up to you — "it's an option, not the rule," says Altier. Don't let the salt/no-salt bullies tell you otherwise!
The Perfect Margarita
2 oz Tequila
1 oz fresh lime
3/4 oz Triple Sec
1 tsp simple syrup (1:1 sugar to water)
If you're salting the rims, pour lime juice (bottled actually works well here!) onto one small plate, and fill another one with kosher salt. Dip the top of each glass into the juice and then into the salt. (Note: this won't work with water, you need the stickiness of juice to hold the salt.)
Shake up all ingredients in a shaker with ice, then strain into glasses over fresh ice. Garnish with a lime wedge, and serve.
Food styled by Rhoda Boone
Photographed by Janelle Jones