We first heard of Almond Orgeat Syrup when we began exploring the world of tiki drinks, but almond syrup already had a rich history before the post-WWII explosion of tropical nostalgia. The word “orgeat” has its origins in the French word for barley, as the original syrup was a mix of barley and almonds. Sweet almond drinks are enjoyed during special occasions across Europe, with a particularly ancient history in the Mediterranean region.
Its cousin, Falernum, is a popular, spiced almond syrup liqueur of the Caribbean that makes for delicious tropical drinks. Orgeat most famously entered the world of cocktails at Trader Vic’s with the invention of the Mai Tai, which are thankfully, back in favor.
For the base of the syrup, we opted for a traditional processing method for our California almonds: they’re blanched first, then lightly roasted and ground as finely as possible into a perfectly smooth almond butter. What we get is a roasted nut flavor and a rich, buttery mouth-feel. This is the core of our orgeat and it’s what separates it from big-brand orgeats which often do not actually contain any real almond! The addition of orange blossom adds light florals to the syrup, while bitter almond oil delivers a classic marzipan flavor. Bitter almond is a punchy top note that counterbalances the unctuous toasted nut flavor. Cane sugar sweetens the syrup.
Orgeat shines in the classic tiki cocktail, the Mai Tai, but it’s a true bar essential that pairs well with spirits of all kinds. Use it to provide body, as well as flavor, in a mocktail like Italian Lemonade. Play off orgeat’s deeper, roasted notes with aged spirits and spice in the Dublin Heights highball.
See the previous post in this series: Syrup Spotlight: Fiery Ginger Syrup