June 27, 2023 by Anna-Bet Stemmet
If you love tropical drinks, you’ve likely encountered a few orgeat cocktails. The allure of this intriguing ingredient has been strong since at least the 1700s, and even before then, when a similar version gained popularity in the discerning Middle East.
But what exactly is orgeat, and how does it elevate mixology to new heights? Join us as we unravel the secrets of this tantalising ingredient, explore its rich history, learn how to make it at home, and uncover some captivating cocktail creations that will leave you craving more.
What is orgeat?
Orgeat is a versatile syrup often used as an ingredient in various cocktails and beverages. It is traditionally made from almonds, sugar, and orange flower water, creating a sweet, nutty, and slightly floral flavour profile. Orgeat syrup adds depth, complexity, and a touch of elegance to many popular mixed drinks.
The rich history of orgeat can be traced back to the Middle East, where it was originally made from barley and used as a popular beverage ingredient. Over time, the recipe evolved, and almonds became the primary ingredient, giving it the distinct flavour it is known for today. The name “orgeat” itself is derived from the French word “orge“, meaning barley.
What orgeat is used for in cocktails & mixology
Orgeat plays a significant role in mixology, particularly in the realm of classic and tropical cocktails. Its unique flavour and versatility make it a staple ingredient in many renowned drinks.
Its nutty and floral notes complement the tropical flavours of rum, fruit juices, and other ingredients commonly found in these exotic libations. Additionally, orgeat can be a delightful addition to non-alcoholic beverages, mocktails, and even desserts, showcasing its versatility beyond the realm of mixology.
How to make orgeat syrup at home
Not sure where to find orgeat syrup? No problem. Making your own cocktail syrup at home is quite simple and allows you to customise the flavour to your liking while ensuring a fresh, high-quality product.
Here’s our simple recipe and some nifty tips and tricks:
- 1 cup Almonds (blanched or raw)
- 2 cups Water
- 2 cups Granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon Orange flower water
- Start by blanching the almonds, if they are not already blanched. To do this, bring a pot of water to a boil and add the almonds. Boil them for about a minute, then drain and rinse them with cold water. Pat dry and remove the skins by gently pressing on each almond.
- Once the almonds are blanched, place them in a blender or food processor and pulse until finely ground. You want a coarse powder, but be careful not to over-process, as this can release oils and turn the mixture into almond butter.
- In a saucepan, combine the almond powder and water. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Allow it to simmer for about 15 minutes, infusing the liquid with almond flavour.
- Next, remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth into a clean container, extracting as much liquid as possible.
- Return the strained liquid to the saucepan and add the sugar. Place the saucepan back on the stove over low heat, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved.
- Once the sugar has dissolved, remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool. Then, stir in the orange flower water, to add a delicate floral aroma to your orgeat syrup.
- Once cooled, pour the orgeat syrup into a clean, airtight bottle or container. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Tips & tricks for making orgeat syrup
- For enhanced flavour, you can toast the almonds lightly before grinding them. Toasting adds a subtle nuttiness to the syrup.
- If you prefer a smoother texture, you can strain the mixture a second time through a fine cheesecloth or coffee filter.
- Orange flower water can be found in specialty food stores or online. You can substitute a few drops of orange extract if unavailable, although the flavour may differ slightly.
Our favourite orgeat cocktails
Now that you’re ready to embark on your homemade orgeat syrup adventure, you can enjoy experimenting with this delightful ingredient in various cocktails. Here are a few of our favourites to try:
1. Mai Tai
One of the most famous cocktails featuring orgeat is the cheeky Mai Tai, a time-honoured tropical Tiki drink that blends Appleton Estate Rum, lime juice, Grand Marnier, and orgeat syrup. This combination creates a complex and refreshing beverage that has become a timeless favourite.
The intensely layered Saturn cocktail combines Bulldog Gin, lemon juice, passion fruit syrup, orgeat, falernum, and crushed ice. Cocktails with falernum and orgeat really bring other fruity flavors in these drinks to life, so we highly recommend you try at least one.
3. Trinidad Sour
The Trinidad Sour cocktail is a unique and bold cocktail known for its intense and complex flavor profile, underpinned by strong bitterness and herbal and spicy notes, all rounded off with a sweet kiss of orgeat. To make it, combine 45ml bitters, 15ml Wild Turkey Rye, 30ml orgeat syrup, and 20ml fresh lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake it well, and fine strain it into a chilled glass.