How To: Orgeat
Master the Basics of Orgeat, from Almond to Avocado Pit
One of the hardest working tools in a bartender’s arsenal is orgeat, which adds an extra dimension of flavor and texture to a range of drinks. Orgeat is one of mixology’s oldest ingredients, predating the cocktail movement by several centuries. “Originally, orgeat was a savory barley water absent of almonds, dating back to the 12th century,” Campari Academy’s Eddie Hansel says. “Today, orgeat is essentially an almond syrup typically containing a small portion of orange blossom and/or rose water.”
The enduring popularity of the Mai Tai propelled orgeat’s relevance. “Orgeat was popularized in the 1940’s by Trader Vic,” Hansel says. “It was used as a sweetener in tiki drinks, providing a nutty and earthy complexity. When compared to the singular note of a simple syrup, orgeat adds body and a unique flavor profile.”
While the ingredient list is minimalist, there is room for small tweaks and adjustments in the recipe process, starting with the treatment of the almonds. Are they toasted first? Soaked in water? Cooked sous vide? From tracking down specific almond types to trying out a range of salts and sweeteners, there are multiple ways to tweak orgeat recipes to make them your own.
Best Practices For Making Orgeat
There are some common, easy mistakes to avoid when tackling an orgeat recipe. Namely, don’t underestimate the amount of time required: straining a nut milk, for example, can often be an overnight process. Whether you choose to toast the almonds or cook them gently via sous vide, the process requires a light touch. “There are no points in the process that require anything above a low heat setting,” Hansel advises. When properly refrigerated, most orgeat recipes will last about two weeks.
New Ingredients, Modern Orgeats
Experimentation with orgeat, coupled with a newfound consideration of sustainability issues, is leading to a rethinking of how orgeat recipes can be adapted. No longer limited to almonds, mixologists are producing orgeats with everything from oats to avocado pits to pumpkin and sesame seeds. “The only considerations should be is the base ingredient safe, and does it taste good,” Hansel says. “Most importantly, does it make sense for the flavor profile within the cocktail you want to present to the guest?”
That said, Hansel advises a thoughtful, intentional approach to making orgeat. “Don’t just try something new to be different,” he says. “With traditional modifier recipes like orgeat, I often find it works in our favor to make small adjustments based on a complete idea as opposed to adjusting a cocktail recipe around some wild new orgeat you may have ‘invented.’”
Whether you try out the traditional almond-based recipe, or attempt a new kind of orgeat, these nutty syrups can up the ante on any number of classic and original cocktails.
Almond Orgeat Recipe
- 2 lbs. blanched almonds
- 96 oz water
- 4 lbs. turbinado sugar
- 4 lbs. white sugar
- 4 oz Overproof Neutral Spirit
- ½ t Rosewater
Directions: Toast almonds at 310 F for 15 minutes, until just browning at the edges. Place in a blender with water (do this in batches of 4 oz almonds and 12 oz water) and grind fine. Store this almond-water “milk” at room temperature overnight. Strain milk through chinois into an extra-large saucepan and combine with sugars; cook on low heat until sugars are incorporated. Fortify with 4 oz overproof neutral spirit and ½ tsp rosewater and refrigerate. Strain into a non-reactive container and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.
Faux Orgeat Recipe
- 200 g Sugar
- 100 ml Unsweetened Almond Milk
- 1 bar spoon Orange Flower water
- 1 bar spoon Overproof Rum for stabilizing
Directions: Combine sugar and almond milk in a pan over medium-low heat until all the sugar is incorporated. Let cool. Add orange flower water and overproof rum. Strain into a non-reactive container and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.
Macadamia Nut Orgeat Recipe
- 1000 ml Coconut Water
- 300 g Raw Macadamia Nuts
- 8 g Salt
- White Sugar
- 1-1/2 oz Overproof Neutral Spirit
- 1/8 t Orange Blossom Water
Directions: Finely chop Macadamia Nuts, or pulse in a blender briefly until chopped. In a large, non-reactive container, combine chopped nuts, coconut water, and salt. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
After at least 12 hours, strain the nut milk using a cheesecloth or a superbag. Add the equal weight in sugar, and then blend until the sugar is fully dissolved. Strain into a non-reactive container and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.
Sunflower Seed Orgeat Recipe
Sustainable recipe created by Claire Sprouse
Makes 1 quart.
- 400 g Hot Water
- 200 g Sugar
- 150 g Sunflower Seeds, unsalted and roasted
- Combine ingredients and blend until smooth. Strain into a non-reactive container and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.
- Avocado Pit Orgeat
- Sustainable Recipe
- 4-5 Clean Avocado Pits
- 750 g Water
- 750 g Sugar
Directions: Let avocado pits dry overnight. Blend in a blender until they are a coarse powder. Toast ground pits over medium high heat in a pan, careful to not burn. Add sugar and water and stir until sugar is dissolved. Let sit overnight and strain into a non-reactive container and store in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.