You may know orgeat as a needed ingredient in many tiki drinks, like the Mai Tai, but several classic cocktails call for the ingredient as well.
Christopher Day, general manager at the Kon-Tiki in Oakland, California, makes his own orgeat.
“If used thoughtfully, it can drastically elevate some drinks in a way that no common syrup is capable of,” says Day.
“Think the difference between using plain sugar versus marzipan for baking cookies.”– Christopher Day, general manager at the Kon-Tiki in Oakland, California
Day uses his house made orgeat in many drinks, especially his take on Trader Vic’s 1944 Mai Tai. Coincidentally, the bar Day runs, The Kon-Tiki, is in the same city where Trader Vic’s originated—Oakland. Day’s own Mai Tai riff “accentuates the almond notes in the orgeat while also giving the drink a fruity yet bitter twist.”
He also offers this tip: Keep the strained, almond solids and use them in baking if using them the same day.
How to Make Homemade orgeat:
STEP 1: Lightly toast raw almonds until you smell roasted nuts, and a few are browned. Skip this step if you want a less pronounced nut flavor.
STEP 2: Crush the almonds into a course, cornmeal-like mixture and then place them with water into a sealed container. Let sit for between 5 to 8 hours, agitating every 20 to 30 minutes.
STEP 3: Strain the almond slurry, pressing to remove solids, into 3 cups white sugar. Use an immersion blender or whisk to fully dissolve sugar in almond water. Add orange blossom water and vodka (stabilizer) to the final mix.
Do not heat water to dissolve sugar. “Heating with water present can denature the subtle aromatics and esters in the almonds, altering the final character of your orgeat,” warns Day.
Use white, granulated sugar because it will not compete with the almond flavor
Go easy on the orange flower water. A little goes a long way.
Makes about 4 cups
- 1 oz. vodka
- 2 cups pre-blanched, slivered raw almonds
- 2 cups filtered water
- 3 cups white granulated sugar
- Orange Flower Water, to taste
Preparation: Orgeat should keep for about 1-2 months if properly stored. After a day in the refrigerator, the orgeat may have almond solids at the top of the container. You may leave them in and shake the mixture to combine them) or skim them off for a smoother, more melded syrup.
- 1 1/2 oz. Banks 5-Year Rum
- 1/2 oz. Rhum Clement Canne Bleue
- 1/4 oz. Giffard Abricot du Roussillon
- 1/4 oz. Martini bitter
- 3/4 oz. lime juice
- 3/4 oz. orgeat
Preparation: Briefly whip all ingredients in a tin (with a single small cube or small bit of crushed ice). Crack tin and dump contents into a Mai Tai or large rocks glass. Fill with crushed ice. Garnish with lime.
Born in Los Angeles, Christopher Day abandoned his PhD study in chemistry to embrace a career in the hospitality industry. In LA, he has been a part of the bar teams at Honeycut, Cole’s, Redbird, and General Lee’s, among others. Now settled in norther California, he manages The Kon-Tiki in downtown Oakland. He waits eagerly to be able to pour a round of pineapple rum and/or sherry shots for everyone at his bar, again (and when it’s safe to do so).