Orgeat Adds Nutty Sweetness to Your Favorite Cocktails—Here's Why It's a Must for the Home Bar

Orgeat is more than a staple ingredient in Tiki cocktails, it's also a versatile syrup for both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Learn why you need it.

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orgeat almond syrup
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You may have noticed the word "orgeat" around the third or fourth ingredient listed in a growing number of drinks on your favorite cocktail menu. Maybe you wrote it off as the mystical voodoo of masterful mixologists—some magic bullet of flavor from the bespoke arsenal of ingredients that live behind the bar. Yes, it is a magic bullet of sorts, but it's actually a pretty simple (and marvelous!) modifier that's fairly easy to find (or make), and certainly deserves a space on your home bar. You just need a little primer on what it is and how to use it.

What Is Orgeat?

Orgeat (pronounced oar-zshott) is an almond syrup that has a multitude of uses in drinks. You may also see it as orzata, which is the Italian equivalent, but both are the result of emulsifying blanched almonds and combining them with sugar and water (and, if you have it, orange blossom water as well).

"The dominant flavor is a nuttiness from the almonds with some floral aromas that usually come into the mix," says master mixologist Lynnette Marrero, who is the brand ambassador for Zacapa Rum.

How to Use

"I love orgeat as a home bar ingredient. It opens the door to new cocktail creations, as well as several classics," says Jonathon Pogash, the Cocktail Guru. "Orgeat works beautifully in some of my personal faves, like the classic Mai Tai and Japanese cocktails."

Better Than Simple Syrup

While orgeat is a common ingredient in classic Tiki cocktails, like the Mai Tai and the Saturn, it's not limited to the land of rum (although the two are a natural fit). It offers an extra layer of nuttiness and florality that can add oomph to even a simple highball or glass of seltzer—or a souped-up version of the latter in drinks like the Momisette, a French refresher that combines orgeat, pastis, and sparkling water.

"It's great to swap in for your standard simple syrup when you want to add another layer of flavor in all manner of cocktails," says Tyson Buhler, the beverage director for Gin & Luck Hospitality Group, and creator of the bespoke cocktail menu at Death & Co in New York.

"Orgeat adds rich sweetness and depth of flavor along with a pleasant viscosity normally associated with dairy products," says bartender Colin Berger, beverage director for Rare Society in San Diego. He likes to use the delightfully rich sweetener in unconventional ways. "We have a few cocktails that feature orgeat in whiskey- and gin-based cocktails," he says. "I love the balance of spicy rye and [the] nutty syrup."

Buy It or Make It

Buying orgeat is an option, especially if you want to try it for the first time. There are a multitude of great orgeats available. Some of our favorite versions come from artisan producers like Small Hands Foods, Giffard, Fee Brothers, and New Orleans-based El Guapo, whose owner Christa Cotton makes both a classic almond version and a creole riff with pecans.

How to Make Orgeat

To make orgeat syrup, you'll need blanched almonds, sugar, orange flower water, and clear brandy or vodka (optional).

  1. In a food processor, finely grind 1 1/2 cups blanched almonds.*
  2. Combine 1 1/2 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar in a small pot; bring to a boil.
  3. Add the ground almonds and simmer for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to cool.
  4. Add 1/2 teaspoon of orange flower water and, 2 tablespoons of clear brandy or vodka if using. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill for at least 12 hours.
  5. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth.

Storage: Kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container, homemade orgeat will last two weeks. If you added alcohol, it will last up to a month.

* You can toast the almonds before processing: this will give the orgeat a more prominent nutty flavor.

Almond or Not?

Interestingly, orgeat is an ingredient that's morphed over time. Its name comes from the word for barley in French, orge, and it started as a barley syrup. As time, availability, and the ease of procuring ingredients can influence anything and everything, orgeat eventually became a syrup created from almonds.


The spirit of creativity and adaption is the way bartenders explore options for the syrup's base today, too. "I have created versions using quinoa and almond milk to add an even more toasted aroma," says Marrero. "I have also used avocado pits, a technique learned from"

Buhler uses a sesame version for cocktails that call for the syrup. "The orgeat that we use at Death & Co is actually made from sesame by our longtime friend in New York, Adam Kolesar. Toasty and nutty, this version plays very similar to the almond version in drinks that are looking for rich, round texture," he says. "It's as great in a classic gin sour like an Army Navy or the boozy Cognac-based Japanese cocktail."

Even rice comes into play, too (think about it—horchata isn't very far off: rice soaked in water, and given flavor with spices and sugar). And it's a great alternative for those who are nut-averse or allergic. "I love a toasted rice orgeat, which is becoming a mainstay as both restaurants and individuals take more care in accommodating allergies and aversions," says Jeanne Torres, bartender at the Musket Room in New York.

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