At it's most basic, orgeat syrup is made with almonds, water, sugar, and orange flower water. While you can buy it, orgeat is not difficult to make from scratch, and this recipe shows you how to create the sweet, nutty, floral drink mixer at home. It's a key ingredient in tropical cocktails like the mai tai and can be used to make Italian soda or sweeten various other drinks.
The method for making orgeat syrup is similar to simple syrup. Instead of water, sugar is dissolved into a freshly extracted liquid from ground almonds. You can use blanched almonds, but roasting almonds and leaving the skin adds a little more color. More importantly, it imparts an extra bitterness that works well with the bright flavor of orange flower water. While optional, the liquor extends the syrup's shelf life and the citric acid gives it a flavor boost. The taste is very similar to commercial orgeat syrups.
The recipe yields about 1 1/2 cups and you'll often use just 1/2 to 1 ounce in a drink. This smaller batch gives you room to play around with the variations and avoid wasting ingredients. Once you find which you like best, double the recipe and explore the syrup's versatility for yourself.
Gather the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
On a rimmed baking sheet, spread the almonds out in a single layer. Toast in the oven for 4 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes.
In a food processor or chopper, chop the almonds to a fine but still coarse grind (not the sand-like texture of almond flour).
Transfer the ground almonds to a large bowl and cover them with warm water. Let soak for 1 hour.
Using a fine-mesh strainer and two layers of cheesecloth, squeeze all of the liquid from the almonds into a deep bowl. The almond pulp should be almost completely dry and you'll have about 1 cup of liquid.
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, gently warm the almond liquid.
Whisk in the sugar and continue stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Strain the orgeat syrup through two layers of clean cheesecloth. Stir in the orange flower water and, if using, the brandy or vodka and citric acid.
Once the syrup has cooled completely, transfer it to a bottle with a tight-sealing lid.
Refrigerate the orgeat syrup and shake before using it in your favorite drinks. Enjoy.
- Don't use water that is too hot because it may damage the almonds' oils and result in an off-flavor. Cool water can be used; extend the soaking time to about 4 or 5 hours.
- Use large pieces of cheesecloth to contain all of the ground almonds when straining out the almond milk. A nut milk bag is an excellent alternative.
- Any orgeat syrup should be refrigerated and naturally separates as it sets. The final straining reduces that a little and orgeat made with blanched, skin-free almonds separates less. Always shake the bottle before pouring.
- With the liquor and citric acid, the homemade orgeat syrup will keep well for up to 2 months. Without those preservatives, use the syrup within 1 week.
- Rather than roasted almonds, use blanched almonds. Soak them in enough water to cover for 30 minutes and drain off the water before grinding. When blanching raw almonds yourself, you can remove the skins for a white-colored, less bitter syrup or leave them on for a slightly bitter golden syrup.
- Switch to raw granulated sugar for a richer flavor and slightly darker color. Coconut (or palm) sugar would be an interesting substitution, too.
- Rose water is a common alternative to orange flower water.
- Use this recipe to make pistachio orgeat syrup from raw pistachios. Roasted hazelnuts are another great nut for homemade syrups.
How to Use Orgeat Syrup
The mai tai may be the most famous orgeat drink, but it's a great sweetener for many other drinks.
- Try the French momisette by combining 1/4 ounce of orgeat with 1 ounce of pastis and filling the glass with sparkling water.
- Orgeat adds a nutty flavor to cocktails when it replaces other sweeteners and pairs best with brandy, whiskey, and rum.
- Top 1 to 2 ounces of syrup with soda water for the Italian soda drink called orzata.
- Use it to sweeten homemade lemonade, other fruity drinks, coffee, or even milkshakes.
- Drizzle orgeat over dessert and fruit salads for a sweet, nutty twist.
Can Orgeat Syrup Be Made From Prepared Almond Milk?
The first few steps of this recipe create a liquid similar to fresh almond milk but the nuts are not blended back into the liquid. While it is best from almonds, unsweetened homemade or store-bought almond milk can be used to make orgeat syrup. Use 1 cup of prepared almond milk and jump ahead to heating the milk.
What Is the Alcohol Content of Orgeat Syrup?
If you choose to skip the liquor in this recipe, then your orgeat syrup is alcohol-free. Even with 1 ounce of 40-proof brandy or vodka, this orgeat syrup's alcohol content is negligible at around 3 percent alcohol by volume (ABV). Some cough medicines contain three times that amount and, as a mixer, this will have little effect on the drinks you make with it. For instance, in an orgeat soda recipe that uses 1 ounce of orgeat syrup and 4 ounces of soda water, the drink's alcohol content will fall around 0.5 percent ABV.