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What Is Orgeat Syrup?
Orgeat, pronounced or-zhaat, is a sweet almond syrup commonly used in tiki cocktails. Light in color, it tastes a bit like marzipan with the addition of orange blossom water and rose water.
What Are the Origins of Orgeat Syrup?
The story of almond orgeat begins, surprisingly enough, with barley. In sixth-century Europe, the nutritious water leftover from boiling barley was used as a remedy for fever. Barley water remained popular through the Middle Ages, and around the seventeenth century, it became typical to flavor barley water with ground sweet or bitter almonds, sugar, and citrus peels or orange flower water. The resulting sweet drink was known as orgeat, after the French word for barley: orge. Somewhere along the way, the barley that gave the beverage its name was deemed unnecessary.
Orgeat syrup as we know it was probably developed during the late nineteenth century as one of the many drink syrups commonly found at soda fountains. Before long, bartenders began adding the nutty sweetener to cocktails.
4 Ways to Use Orgeat Syrup
Orgeat—once a non-alcoholic refresher in the same category as lemonade—became a popular cocktail mixer due to the influence of Trader Vic, who used the syrup in his tiki drinks during the 1940s. Iconic tiki cocktails that call for orgeat include:
- The Mai Tai: This now-classic cocktail mixes two different kinds of rum, lime juice, Curaçao, orgeat, and simple syrup. Using homemade orgeat takes this basic drink to the next level. Learn how to make a Mai Tai with our recipe here.
- The Fog Cutter: The Fog Cutter combines orgeat with orange juice, lemon juice, rum, gin, brandy, and sherry.
- The Japanese cocktail: Invented in 1862 in New York, this simple cocktail (cognac, orgeat, Angostura bitters) remains one of the most popular uses for orgeat.
- Non-alcoholic drinks: In the early twentieth century, orgeat was just one of a variety of syrups used to flavor soda fountain drinks with fanciful names like Charlotte Russe (orgeat and strawberry syrup) and Flowing Stream (orgeat and Champagne syrup). Take inspiration from orgeat's history and mix it with seltzer, or use it as a sweetener for hot chocolate.
Easy Orgeat Syrup Recipe
MakesAbout 4 cups
Prep Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 15 min
Cook Time15 min
- 1 pound blanched almonds
- 1 pound cane sugar
- 1 tablespoon orange flower water
- 1 tablespoon rosewater
- 2 teaspoons almond extract
- 1 ounce vodka (or brandy)
- Pulse almonds in a food processor until coarsely ground.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar with 2 cups water and stir to dissolve. Bring to a boil, stirring continuously, then add the ground almonds. Simmer for 5 minutes and then remove from heat.
- Let mixture sit at room temperature, covered, until completely cool, at least 1 hour and up to overnight.
- Strain almond mixture into a large measuring cup through a fine-mesh sieve lined with 3 layers of cheesecloth, pressing on the ground almonds to release the almond milk and almond oil. Discard the ground almonds and add orange flower water, rosewater, almond extract, and vodka. Stir to combine.
- Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Shake before using.
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