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Why You Should Add Orgeat To Your Home Orgeat adds depth and complexity to a number of cocktails and adult beverages, including hot chocolate, sundaes, and more

Orgeat is a nutty, more complex cousin of simple syrup.

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Repeat after us: or-zhaat. A better transcription would be or-jjott. Whatever you call it, orgeat is an essential ingredient to have on hand in your bar cart, and knowing when and how to use it can significantly improve your cocktail making skills.

You may associate orgeat with the rich, complex sweetness of classic Tiki cocktails, but this ingredient can and should be used in drinks of all kinds, alcoholic and non-alcoholic alike.

Orgeat… what is it?

Orgeat is a cocktail syrup that has an almond, sugar, and flavoring base, and then adds other flavors like citrus or floral essences like rose water and orange extract. The end product is a syrup that’s richer in aroma and flavor than simple syrup.

Orgeat first appeared in French bar manuals and recipes in the late 1800s, with a barley and sugar base. (This is how it got its deceptive moniker, by the way. Orge means “barley” in French. However, over time, orgeat made from almonds became the go-to ingredient for mixologists and cocktail enthusiasts due to its nutty flavor and silky texture.

How does one create Orgeat?

Orgeat is made by boiling sugar and water. The almonds are ground and blanched after the sugar has been dissolved and then simmered for a short time. After the mixture has cooled and infused for a few hours, it is strained through fine cheesecloth. To further extend its shelf life, you can now add brandy or vodka, as well as extracts or flavorings.

Even though almonds are the traditional ingredient in orgeat, you can use any kind of nut you like. New York City’s Patent Pending, a speakeasy hidden in a coffee shop, serves a homemade orgeat made with pistachios instead of almonds. Both of the bar’s orgeats are made in-house, and bartender Elizabeth Haag says that the pistachio “adds a pretty distinct flavor” compared to the traditional almond orgeat. Pistachio orgeat from Patent Pending is thick and delicious thanks to the addition of overproof Jamaican rum just before bottling, giving it a flavor that is remarkably close to the nut’s natural flavor. The cocktail’s slight green color is a nice bonus.

How to Shop for and Keep Your Food Fresh

It’s fun to make your own orgeat and play around with different flavors, but you can also find excellent commercial options. Popular and affordable syrup brands like Monin and Torani are easily accessible. For a more handcrafted option, try Liber & Co.’s orgeat, which is made from whole almonds that are blanched and milled in-house; for extra complexity, they add a dash of bitter almond oil.

When using bottled orgeat, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s storage instructions. Orgeat made at home and fortified with vodka or brandy can be kept in the fridge for up to three months. Orgeat, if not fortified, has a shelf life of about a month when stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

How to Use Orgeat “When I want some sweetness and body in a cocktail, Orgeat is my go-to ingredient,” says Haag. Orgeat’s nutty sweetness and richness make it a staple in Tiki drinks, but it works just as well in other drinks. At Patent Pending, homemade pistachio orgeat gets mixed with rum, limoncello, and citrus to make a seasonal Italian-inspired cocktail called ‘Off to Italy’ that is both luscious and frothy at the same time, and served up in a chilled coupe glass.

According to Haag, orgeat is a great addition to recipes that call for a balance of dark, bitter flavors with bright, acidic ones. As a twist on the traditional rum and lime cocktail, her chocolate daiquiri uses orgeat to smooth out the sharp contrast between bitter chocolate liqueur and sour lime juice. Orgeat can be used in place of simple syrup in cocktails, and it pairs well with many different types of alcohol, from rum to whiskey to mezcal.

If I Need to Replace Orgeat, What Should I Use Instead?

Amaretto can be used in place of orgeat in cocktails to impart a similar sweet, nutty almond flavor. Amaretto imparts a floral, almond flavor similar to that of orgeat, though it adds a bit of extra alcohol and won’t have the same viscosity as orgeat.