Tiki beverages are known for being complex, difficult-to-make cocktails with unusual ingredients and extravagant garnishes. That is sometimes the case. Tiki cocktails, on the other hand, frequently receive their complex tastes from less well-known ingredients that are easy to come by or even prepare yourself. To that list, add orgeat.
Orgeat is a sweet, creamy, opalescent syrup used in Tiki cocktails such as the Mai Tai, Scorpion, and Fog Cutter. It used to be produced using barley, but once it was discovered that almonds had a greater taste than the grain, barley was phased out. The exact amounts vary according to the producer, but almonds, sugar, water, orange blossom water, and a fortifying liquor like brandy or overproof rum are all common ingredients in orgeat.
Almonds that have been blanched are used in this recipe. Note that you may use the ground almonds to make many batches, but they will lose their efficacy after a few uses.
Of course, almonds aren’t the only option. Other nuts, such as pistachios and hazelnuts, also generate great orgeats that will add nutty tastes and rich textures to your drinks.
What Exactly Is Orgeat?
Originally manufactured from grain (the name comes from the French word orge, which means “barley”), orge syrup is now most commonly prepared from almonds (and occasionally other nuts) and orange flower water. This nonalcoholic sweetener is commonly created in one of two ways: by steeping finely chopped nuts in a simple syrup, or by adding sugar straight to prepared nut milk and cooking it low and slow. It’s a touch thick and varies in colour from light beige to golden (depending on the nuts used), and it has a slight scent from the orange blossom water. Warming spices like cinnamon and clove, as well as various flavourings like vanilla or rose water, and a combination of different nuts, including hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, and pistachios, may be included in different brands and regional variants. It’s versatile, tasty, and deserving of a spot on your bar cart or pantry shelf.
Because not all brands are made equal—some use artificial flavours or corn syrup to add bulk—get the good stuff for the best cocktail experience. We love L’Orgeat, B.G. Reynolds Orgeat, and Liber & Co. Syrup, all of which are prepared in the United States using real cane sugar and other carefully obtained components.
- 2¼ cups blanched almonds
- 3½ cup cane sugar
- 3½ cup of water
- 1 oz. of vodka, brandy
- ¼ tsp orange blossom water
A Recipe for Homemade Orgeat
It’s indispensable in a Mai Tai and a must-have ingredient in the classic Japanese cocktail. With its rich almond taste and an intriguing hint of orange water, Orgeat syrup is unrivalled among cocktail mixers. You can buy it in a well-stocked spirits shop, but true almond connoisseurs prefer to prepare it at home, where they can control the sugar amount and flavour. “It has a freshness to it that fresh ingredients provide,” says Daniel Shoemaker, proprietor of Teardrop Cocktail Lounge in Portland, Oregon. “The sweetness and viscosity of handmade orgeat syrup show through in a drink in ways that a store-bought version would never.” Shoemaker began creating his own orgeat after becoming dissatisfied with some store-bought brands’ artificial tastes and high-fructose corn syrup. Teardrop was inspired by a recipe created by Darcy O’Neil, the creator of the Art of Drink site, and finally settled on what would become Teardrop’s house orgeat recipe.
In a medium mixing bowl, put 2¼ cups of raw, sliced almonds. Allow it to sit for 30 minutes after covering it with 3½ glasses of tap water. Use a strainer to remove the water and discard it.
Lightly pulse the almonds in a food processor or blender until they are finely crushed. (You may also use a rolling pin, but place the almonds in a plastic bag first to avoid a mess.)
Return the ground almonds to the basin, cover with 3½ cups of distilled water, and soak for 4 to 5 hours, stirring often. Using a cheesecloth-lined strainer, strain the liquid into a 1-liter glass jar, straining to remove as much as possible. Remove the almonds and toss them out.
Add 3½ cup cane sugar to the liquid, shut the jar firmly, and shake violently for 15 minutes, or until the sugar is completely dissolved.
1 oz. vodka and ¼ tsp. orange blossom water, carefully mixed. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks after that. This recipe yields 2 to 3 cups of syrup.
- Any orgeat syrup should be kept refrigerated since it separates spontaneously as it cools. The final straining helps to lessen this, while orgeat prepared with blanched, skinless almonds separates less. Before pouring, give the bottle a good shake.
- The homemade orgeat syrup will keep for up to 2 months if it contains liquor and citric acid. Use the syrup within one week if it isn’t preservative-free.
Variations on the Recipe
- Use blanched almonds instead of roasted almonds. Soak them for 30 minutes in enough water to cover them, then drain the water before grinding. When blanching raw almonds at home, you have the option of removing the skins for a less bitter white syrup or leaving them on for a slightly bitter golden syrup.
- For a fuller flavour and a somewhat deeper colour, use raw granulated sugar. Coconut (or palm) sugar might also be used as a substitute.
- Orange flower water is frequently replaced with rose water.
- To produce pistachio orgeat syrup from raw pistachios, follow this recipe. Roasted hazelnuts are another excellent nut for making syrups at home.
How to Use Orgeat Syrup
- Although the mai tai is the most well-known orgeat cocktail, it may also be used to sweeten a variety of other beverages.
- Combine 1/4 ounce of orgeat with 1 ounce of pastis in a glass filled with sparkling water to make the French Morisette.
- When used in place of other sweeteners, orgeat gives drinks a nutty taste and goes well with brandy, whiskey, and rum.
- For the Italian soda drink orzata, combine 1 to 2 ounces of syrup with 1 to 2 ounces of soda water.
- Make homemade lemonade, other fruity beverages, coffee, or even milkshakes with it.
- For a sweet, nutty flavour, drizzle orgeat over desserts and fruit salads.