Orgeat, it’s delicious, it’s got great color, and these days it’s definitely tropical. Even though it was a cocktail ingredient well before the Tiki craze, still many people associate it with Trader Vic Bergeron. In reality orgeat appeared in American cocktails as far back as the “Japanese Cocktail” that appeared in one of the three books Jerry Thomas published. However after the Mai Tai that milky, mysterious and majestic flavor has come to be associated with Tiki. And why not it’s a big flavor that Trader Vic used to set himself apart from Donn Beach. It’s a mysterious aromatic mix that really only tastes faintly of almonds if made properly.
So why make it yourself? I often ask myself that when I make it. I’ll confess it’s not my favorite thing to do. Plenty of sites will lie to you professing it to be “OMG so easy and fun!”. Bullshit, sitting on your ass and watching TV is easy and fun. In contrast orgeat requires you getting sticky with sugar and it also needs multiple strainings, stirrings, and a roasting. So why the hell do I keep doing it? Homemade orgeat is fucking delicious. I’ve purchased many orgeats from cheap to chic, and they all fall short somehow. Some just don’t have much flavor, we bought one that tasted alright, but unfortunately it was brown which your orgeat should not be. Even with that visual flaw I still saved money making my own. When it came time to make my own I couldn’t decide who’s to use, a lot of people differ on the method. In the end I decided on a mash up of two recipes. (Please also enjoy Darcy and Liquid Culture’s recipes.) Please use only blanched almonds, brown orgeat is a bummer that will leave your Tiki drink looking lousy.
Crush the almonds then allow them to soak in the water for 30 minutes. Then strain them out saving the water and toast the almonds lightly in the oven. I put them under a broiler for about 3 minutes stirring halfway through. Return to the water and add sugar heating until dissolved about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit for 12 hours. Then strain and squeeze through cheesecloth and add the orange flower water and vodka before bottling.
Some people use xanthum gum to keep the syrup from separating. Your free to do this, but I never have because I can shake the damn syrup to recombine it. I always forget to buy cheesecloth and end up going out at 7 am for it so don’t be me. Also don’t expect any grocery store clerk to what cheesecloth is. So now you have your orgeat, what do you make with it? Well there’s always the classic Trader Vic Mai Tai (Remixed page 71), or Jeff Berry’s Aurora Bora Borealis (Remixed page 30). If your in the mood you can also try our Hula Ghoul or the Tree Viper. Whatever it is we hope you enjoy mixing with this Tiki treat. Until next time…
“You get Hammered America” – JFL