The quintessential syrup for a variety of Tiki and tropical drinks, Orgeat (pronounced “or-zsa,” like Zsa Zsa Gabor) is like liquid marzipan. While it’s best known as a part of a good Mai Tai, this almond syrup is also an exotic substitute for simple syrup or grenadine in any mixed drinks or a fun addition to pie fillings, milkshakes, and even coffee.
While you can buy it, if you are truly serious about your cocktails, you will want to make your Orgeat at home. Commercial Orgeats can vary wildly in quality and saccharine-levels, so making it at home allows you to take control of the sugar content and the flavour.
And in case you were wondering where the name came from, ‘orge’ is the French for ‘barley’, so orgeat, orzata or, in Spanish, horchata, originally referred to a common method of making barley water, a nourishing drink that crushes the grain in a mortar and pestle and then has water added to it to emulsify the fats. Along the same lines, almonds were added to the mix, and eventually, the humble grain got shoved out in favour of the rich and aromatic nut.
Eventually, the syrup made its way behind the bar championed by Trader Vic in the 1940s.
Orgeat Syrup (traditional)
- 1 pound (0.45g) bitter almonds (or Bitter Almond seeds )
- 3 cups water
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon rosewater
- 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
In a pan over medium-low heat, toast the almonds until the oils begin to release, and a light colour has been achieved. Add the almonds to a large ziplock bag containing the water. Create a sous vide by setting a colander or a steaming basket inside a larger pot of water set over the lowest heat possible. Drop the bag inside the colander (it should be completely submerged), and cook in the hot water bath for 4 hours. Strain and discard the almonds, reserving the warm liquid. Add sugar and salt, and stir to dissolve. Seal in an airtight container, allow to come to room temperature and then cool in the refrigerator. Add the rosewater and orange blossom water to finish. Store, refrigerated, in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Orgeat Syrup (Almond milk hack)
If you are running short on time, then try this hack by Steve The Bartender which is a quick, simple and clean way to whip up a 500mL batch of almond syrup for your tiki cocktails
- 1 Cup of Unsweetened Almond Milk
- 2 Cups of Sugar
- 3 Tsp of Almond Extract
- ½ Tsp of Orange Blossom Water
- 1/6 Cup of Brandy
Combine the almond milk and sugar in a saucepan on medium heat. Stir until dissolved and the mixture starts to boil. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Transfer to a sterilised jar and store in the fridge. Should last up to 4 weeks in the fridge