Margarita mastery with chef Bayless

To master mixing a perfect margarita, there might be no better coach than chef Rick Bayless.

The next best thing to a one-on-one class with the chef and television celebrity is his latest book, "Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles and Snacks" (W.W. Norton & Co., $24.95), written with his wife, Deann Groen Bayless.

The book opens with "A Master Class in Margaritas," a lively conversation with the margarita master who offers insight into the nuances at play, from limes to tequila (save pricey aged tequila for sipping solo), from balance to texture.

Texture in a margarita? "When you shake a margarita the way I describe, not just back and forth three times then pour it out, but that full 15-second shake, you chip off little bits of ice and create a drink that's got this wonderful sort of frothiness," he says.

Starting with fresh lime juice is key. "The difference in flavor between fresh-squeezed lime juice you make yourself and anything that you can buy is huge." And he favors agave or sugar syrups over granulated sugar: "You're going to get a much better texture and much more even distribution of the sweet element."

The book boasts recipes for seasonal margaritas (peach-basil, apple-habanero, etc.), mezcal margaritas, tequila-spiked classics, agua frescas, dessert cocktails and tequila choices. There's also a "master class" in guacamole plus seasonal variations. To science-fixated "self-professed margarita geeks," he coaches not to take "all the delicious fun out of it. ... I'm all about soul-satisfying deliciousness."

To that, we say: Salud!


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