The resurgence of cocktail connoisseurs has also been a boon to the classic ingredient market. Not long ago, you could hardly find anything beyond iridescent grenadine or sweet and sour mix. Now, there’s artisanal everything, produced by some bearded fella who wears suspenders and probably rides a unicycle to and from his collective (I jest — but only a little). This is great when you’re feeling lazy. However, when you’re ambitious, you take up the mantle yourself and make your own mixers. Much like Homemade Orgeat!
Let’s get the obvious out of the way up top: yes, you can buy perfectly fine orgeat. I’d recommend one of the pricier ones without any of the odd fillers and strange things that don’t sound like ingredients for good food.
Heck, we’ve done it, purchased a few and they’re perfectly adequate.
However, the fun is in the journey and making your own gives you the power to create orgeat exactly to your liking! Here, we like flavor. Subtle is nice, I’m a fan of subtle, just not when it comes to my drinks, jokes, conversations, stories or anything that falls within the more interesting category.
Alrighty, so, orgeat is, in its most basic, easy to think about form almond syrup.
That means that the easiest form of Homemade Orgeat is pulverized almonds that have steeped in simple syrup. Ta da! Magic. Jazz hands.
For those pedants out there, you might be getting a little huffy right about now, “But a true, authentic orgeat has orange water in it! You need that extra flavor because it’s in there!” Sure, yeah, there’s that. That’s the best part about when you make your own: you get to control what you want in it.
For our recipe, we tested with various different sugars: white, brown (fun fact: turns out it’s white with molasses added back to it) and turbinado. After some tests, we concluded that we like a combination of white and turbinado — the white brings the sweet and the turbinado brings out the earthy characteristics of the almonds.
After the sweet factor, there’s the almonds themselves. Here’s another thing that you might have already noticed: our Homemade Orgeat isn’t opaque or milky white. Nope, it’s brown. That’s thanks to the turbinado sugar (flavor, see, it’s a good thing) and because we left the skins on the almonds.
Here again, sorry to you pedantic folks out there who’d prefer a whiter version. You can do that, just remove the skins from the almonds — you’ll get less flavor, but I guess it’ll be more aesthetically pleasing (to you, me, I’m good with brown). That’s the fun of making it yourself, you get to control your destiny.
Anyway, we take our almonds and we toast them. That’s going to up the nutty flavor, bring out some of those essential oils and let them get cozy with the syrup.
The final note is that when it’s all done, if you want to add a splash or two of vodka for some longevity (for you and the Homemade Orgeat), go for it. You can also add that orange water (we don’t, but feel free to). Oh, if it’s just not almondy enough for you, you can also add in some almond extract. However, I’m quietly confident that this will have much of that almond flavor that you’ve been missing out on from your standard store-bought orgeat.
Next stop: Mai Tai. Or Japanese Cocktail. Or really, an almond milk tea for breakfast (I love those)!
Now, let’s get down with our Homemade Orgeat!
- 18 oz. almonds
- 10 oz. white sugar
- 10 oz. demerara sugar
- 15 oz. water
- 1 tbs. (or so) orange-flower water
- 2 tsp. (or so) almond extract
- 2-3 oz. vodka
- Vessel for holding
- Remember, we like flavor.
- Toast the almonds (skin on, gotta get those essential oils going).
- Add water and sugars to pot.
- Bring to simmer.
- Not a rolling boil, we’re looking to get them to melt, not turn into rock candy.
- Add the ground up almonds.
- Simmer 3-4 minutes — don’t let it boil.
- Just don’t do it.
- Let cool and sit for 3-12 hours.
- I usually go overnight.
- Strain it with a fancy strainer, cheesecloth setup.
- When you get impatient because it’s going slowly, squeeze the cheesecloth.
- I do.
- Taste it.
- I’m usually happy here.
- If you wanna be official, add the orange water.
- I don’t like it.
- If it’s not almond-y enough for you, add some almond extract (but you probably won’t need it).
- For a preservative, add vodka.
- Bottle and make some tiki drinks!