- On October 11, 2016
Orgeat (pornounced OR-ZAH) is one of the most versatile ingredients in cocktails. In its most basic form, orgeat is an opaque almond simple syrup. It is probably known best in a Mai Tai, but can be utilized a number of cocktails, and can also be transformed to be used in even more!
The name is derived from a latin word meaning “made with barely,” hence its origins as a savory barley water. Around the 1700’s, the change was made to almonds, and it appeared in cocktail manuals dating back to the 1850’s. In the 1940’s, orgeat got its big break with tiki drinks, the tropical cocktails served with fruit and umbrella making a huge revival today. Today, its tough to find a respectable cocktail bar without orgeat on hand. There are a number of bottled orgeats you can find, the BG Reynolds ($8.99/375mL), but if you’re the DIYer like us, there’s nothing like the true taste of home made.
2 cups almonds, blanched, skin on
3.25 cups boiling water
½ cup sugar
1 Tbsp orange blossom water or rose flower water (optional)
Fine mesh strainer
Toast the nuts in a pan over low heat until fragrant and slightly browned. Blend the nuts
into a rough powder and move to a large container. Add the boiling water and let sit at room temperature overnight. (You can also add the nuts and water to a freezer bag and hack-a-sous-vide in a simmering pot of water, rice cooker, or slow cooker for about 4 hours). Strain the mixture over the cheesecloth in a fine mesh strainer, and squeeze the almond remains to get all oils out. Add the sugar (and orange blossom water/rose flower water), shake until dissolved. You may heat the mixture to speed the process, but don’t let it boil. Let the orgeat cool, you may add 1oz vodka to the orgeat for microbial stabilization and refrigerate for longest shelf life. The recipe should yield a sweet, nutty, opaque, tan liquid with sediment so be sure to shake it before using.
Once you have your orgeat, the cocktail possibilities are endless. Use it in place of simple syrup in almost anything.
Try a daiquiri:
2 oz white rum-
Plantation 3-star is magnificent ($16.99/1L)
.75 fresh lime juice
Shake with ice, strain, try not to drink it too fast! Depending on the sweetness of your orgeat, you may need to increase or lower the amount you use to balance your drink. If you take your rum game to the next level and add a triple sec, you’ve made a Mai Tai. For a triple sec, I suggest the Pierre Ferrand orange curacao because its not as sweet, allowing you to control the sweetness of your cocktail. If you use lower proof, sweeter triple secs, you need to lower your orgeat or up the lime, or both, to balance. The Mai Tai:
1oz dark rum (Appleton Estate Signature on sale 14.99, regularly 19.99/750mL)
1oz light rum
.5oz overproof rum for float (Hamilton Demarara 151 $26.99/750)
.75 oz lime
.5 oz triple sec (Pierre Ferrand Orange Curacao 28.99/750mL)
.5 oz orgeat
Shake all ingredients except the over-proof rum, strain over ice, pour the over-proof rum on top, slap a mint leaf and place on top. If rum isn’t your thing you’d love the Japanese Cocktail-
2 oz brandy – Copper and Kings Craft Brandy $34.99/750ml
½ oz orgeat
2 dash Angostura bitters ($8.49/5oz)
Lemon Peel for garnish
Stir the brandy, orgeat, and bitters, strain into a glass, express the lemon peel oils over the top by bending the peel towards the drink, pith side away from the drink. The beauty is how easy this is to make, and how easily you can change it up. Add a tablespoon of pumpkin spices to your drink and shake instead of stir and you’ve got an spicy fall drink. Or try Lairds Apple Brandy 100 proof ($23.99/750mL) in place of the brandy, or Tattersall Aquavit ($31.99/750mL) for a Scandinavian sensation!