Unfortunately, the products you'll find in your local supermarket often aren't of good quality. Instead, cheap ingredients and artificial flavors are what you get.
Sticking to renowned syrup brands is recommended, or you simply make high-quality orgeat syrup at home. All you need is almonds, sugar, and water. Further, you can consider spicing it up with vanilla, rose water, or orange flower water.
You can find the recipe and detailed instructions below, but first, I want to clear up the most common questions about orgeat.
The non-alcoholic, white almond syrup is opalescent and slightly translucent. It has a thick and creamy consistency and is available in different versions.
Made 100% of grains, the term orgeat derives from the French word for barley - orge. And the Catalan word for a plant-based drink orxata is also closely related.
Orxata in Spanish (not the same as Catalan) translates to horchata, as in Dirty Horchata. A drink some of you might know. But, nowadays, horchata and orgeat have nothing in common and are two completely different things.
Orgeat or variants of it are used everywhere. In the world of mixology, it's best known for its use in Tiki cocktails, but there are plenty of other possibilities:
For example, in Tunisia and Libya, a variation called rozata is served during weddings as a symbol of joy. And in Suriname, they even have an almost identical drink with a closely related name - orgeade- made of almonds and sugar.
And in European countries, orgeat variations are well-known, too. For instance, a closely related product is a traditional delicacy in Malta, Greece, and Cyprus.
Different types of orgeat
Depending on the region and the brand, orgeat contains additional flavorings and ingredients.
I mentioned common additions like vanilla, rose water, and orange flower water above. But you can also find orgeat made with cinnamon, cloves, macadamia nuts, pistachios, and bananas.
Unfortunately, some brands use cheap corn syrup and artificial flavorings to cut costs. Stay away from those by carefully checking the list of ingredients.
Is almond syrup the same as orgeat?
That's a tricky one. Orgeat is more like a particular type of almond syrup. It contains additional ingredients besides almonds, but the base of those two products is the same.
Further, Falernum, for instance, is also an almond syrup, but very different from orgeat. And while regular almond syrup is a suitable substitute for orgeat, I would not say the same about Falernum.
How does orgeat syrup taste?
Most syrups have a very straightforward, one-dimensional taste. Orgeat is different.
The slightly bitter and citrusy notes from orange flowers or rose water complement the sweet and marzipan-like nutty almond flavor and give it more depth.
How to use orgeat
These days orgeat is most known for its use in cocktails. But it also works in non-alcoholic drinks. For instance, you can pour a bit into a glass of seltzer or tangy citrus juice.
And orgeat is not only great for drinks. You can use it as a sweetener for fresh fruits and desserts or pour it over a few scoops of ice cream.
How to make the perfect orgeat syrup
Making your own orgeat for cocktails is easier than you might think. You need almonds, sugar, water, a bit of orange flower water, plus some Vodka or Brandy to make the syrup last longer.
Buy peeled, chopped almonds or if you can't get those, blanch your almonds in boiling water for a minute or two before peeling and dicing them.
Now add sugar and water into a saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil while gently stirring it. Once the mix starts to cook, add your almonds. Now, wait until the almond-sugar mix is about to boil again, and remove it from the heat before it actually does.
Add orange flower water and Brandy to it and stir thoroughly before letting the mix steep for a few hours. Once your orgeat is cooled down, double strain it with a cheesecloth and fill it in a sealable container or bottle.
Depending on the recipe, your orgeat can turn out any color between a pale shade of beige to a darker brown.
- 2 cups chopped almonds
- 1.25 cups Water
- 1.25 cups Sugar
- 0.5 tsp Orange flower water
- 1 oz Vodka optional
- Bring water and sugar to a boil while gently stirring.1.25 cups Water, 1.25 cups Sugar
- Add the almonds and wait until the mixture is just about to boil again. Take off the heat and let the mixture cool down.2 cups chopped almonds
- Add orange flower water and Vodka (optional) and stir the mix thoroughly.0.5 tsp Orange flower water, 1 oz Vodka
- Let it steep for a few hours until the raw orgeat mix reaches room temperature.
- Strain through cheesecloth and store in sterilized bottles inside your fridge.
- The homemade orgeat syrup will last for 1 to 2 months when stored in a cool place.