How To Make Orgeat – The Secret Weapon to All Your Favorite Tiki Drinks and More!

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Orgeat — what is it? How is it pronounced? And what the hell is it doing in my cocktail?

Odds are, if you’ve ever enjoyed a perfectly exotic, delicious tiki cocktail, you’ve had orgeat (or-zhaat). It is the flavor lifeblood of many a tiki drink, including the Mai Tai, and a secret ingredient that provides depth and complexity in ways nothing else can. Put simply, orgeat is almond milk syrup. But it is so much more — its iconic tropical notes come from a combination of rose water and orange flower water, sprinkled in with sugar and yes, almonds. The nutty notes from the almonds provide great balance when paired with citrus and a quality rum. And in some cases, with whiskey. One of our all time favorite cocktails, the Trinidad Sour, features orgeat alongside fresh lemon juice, rye, and a full ounce of Angostura bitters (yes, really), and man it is awesome.

It’s not the quickest syrup to whip up at home, but it’s definitely doable. Trust us, we tasted our homemade orgeat side by side with a store-bought orgeat from a reputable company and the difference is night and day. We couldn’t even detect the almond flavor at all in the store-bought version. 😱

So, if you’re down for a fun project and a game-changing cocktail ingredient, you just need about an hour of free time and the following ingredients and tools. The rose water and orange flower water may take some searching to locate in person, but can be found on Amazon. We were able to find both made by Fee Brothers at one of our local liquor stores, Grapes and Grains.

WHAT YOU NEED:

1 pound raw, unsalted almonds
4 cups filtered water
5 cups white sugar
1/4 teaspoon rose water
1/4 teaspoon orange flower water
2 teaspoons light aged rum (optional, to add shelf life)

– large pot
– food processor or strong blender
– gallon pitcher or other large container
– cheesecloth or nut milk sack 😂
– fine strainer

STEP ONE: Add almonds and water to a large pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat. Strain almonds and set aside. Be sure to save the almond water! We need this for step two.

STEP TWO: In a food processor with a steel blade, blend a small amount–about a cup or two–of almonds and almond water for about 10 seconds. Your goal is to end up with a “paste” that is of oatmeal consistency. Pour this paste into a separate large container. Continue blending small amounts of almonds and water and adding it to the large container until all the almonds and almond water are blended. Be careful not to overwhelm your blender and be sure to add water appropriately so the paste doesn’t get too thick and clog the blade.

STEP THREE: Add a scoop of the almond paste to a cheesecloth and squeeze it hard over a fine strainer into the large pot you used to boil the almonds. Almond milk will drip into the pot. Continue doing this with all the paste and discard the leftover dried almond husks.

🎉 Congratulations, you’ve made almond milk! We could’ve just told you to go buy almond milk, right? But what fun is that?!

STEP FOUR: Next, pour the almond milk you’ve made back through a fine strainer into a large measuring cup to assess how much milk you’ve ended up with. You should have around 2.5 cups. Pour the milk back into the pot (yes, for the last time).

STEP FIVE: Now, add 2x the amount of sugar to the amount of milk you have. This should be around 5 cups. Stir this slowly over low heat until all the sugar is incorporated and it doesn’t feel grainy as you stir. Once the sugar is fully dissolved you have effectively created almond syrup — remove it from heat.

STEP SIX: Once this begins to cool, add the rose water, orange flower water and rum. Stir to incorporate. A thick skin may begin to form on the surface — try to stir this back into the syrup as best you can and allow the syrup to cool completely.

STEP SEVEN: Once completely cool, stir once more and pour through a fine strainer into a large bottle or two. Label and date. Orgeat will last several weeks refrigerated.

Let us know if you make this one at home! DM us on instagram and facebook, we love to nerd out. CHEERS!

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Amici Monroe