If you use the google machine to search the interwebs for orgeat recipes, you will find… well, a LOT of them. Beware though! Not all orgeat recipes are created equally. Some require a silly amount of Kafkaesque work. Some are ridiculous with their ingredients. Some are hella lame and just plain don’t taste very good. Its enough to make one throw their small hands up in the air and just order some pre-made. This route is also fraught with peril, as there are certain brands out there that are, how do you say, not good? If you do decide to stop reading immediately and just go order some, really the only place we can say with certainty that you should do so from is Small Hands Foods. And yes- we did foreshadow that with a small hands reference earlier. Way to catch that one Sherlock. All of Small Hands syrups are made with love and lots of know-how, and if you decide to go that route, you’ll be in (ahem) good hands. But for those of you who want to go down your own orgeat path… we gotchu.
Ok- so depending on who you talk to, orgeat is pronounced somewhere around or-JAH-t. Some people say or-za, some people say or-gzah, some people think trickle-down economics actually works, so really there’s no accounting for opinion. It’s sort of a French word that is derived from Latin, that also sounds like horchata. It really all depends on which cocktail geek of the week is in charge of the conch shell (two literary references and counting in one post!). But none of that really matters. What matters is that orgeat is super delicious, and you can’t tiki very far without it. And a world without tiki is a world without fun.
So what is orgeat? In a word, it’s almond syrup. There’s a little more to it than that (there usually is), but that’s the gist. It’s origins trace back to the good ol’ days when we didn’t have refrigeration for things like milk. It was made originally from barley, but somewhere along the lines someone decided almonds were way more awesome. And they were correct. While there is some nutritional benefit to barley, almonds are super good for you, and personally- a handful of almonds to the dome taste better than a handful of barley in your mouthpiece any day of the week. Even Wednesdays. So let’s stop talking about what is and isn’t orgeat and start talking about how to make it.
20 oz water
8 oz Almond meal
A variable amount of cane sugar
2/3 tsp Orange Flower Water
1 tsp Almond Extract
Add the almond meal to the water and bring to a boil. After you achieve a rolling boil, reduce to a simmer and let it do that thing for twenty minutes. This makes the water all almondy and stuff. Measure what you have after the 20 minutes and add an equal amount of cane sugar (you can get super nerdy and measure by volume, but that’s for people like Dave Arnold, who is a total cocktail gangster, and chances are, if you are reading an orgeat how-to, you are not a cocktail gangster…yet.).
Also, go ahead and add the Orange Flower Water and the almond extract. Stir for a while. Now cover and let it rest overnight (in the fridge). It’s tired and has had a long day.
Ok- Day Two, strain your sweet almond syrup through some cheesecloth to get as much of the mealy grit out as possible. Bottle that stuff and keep refrigerated. Use liberally to the astonishment of all your friends. It will keep for around a month.
Note: As with all kinds of syrup and other things in life, if you add a touch of vodka to your orgeat, it will keep a lot longer. We don’t tend to worry about that, as we consume our products pretty rapidly, but if you don’t imbibe very much (sucker) this is a good way to not waste product.