Did you ever have a Mai-Tai and think, “holy shit, this is the best drink I’ve ever had….” well, you’d only think that if you’re into well-made “tiki” cocktails most likely, but there’s that distinguishable flavour in the glass that will always make the cocktail impossible to duplicate on the same thirst-quenching level if you have no clue what it is. That guy is named Orgeat, and he’s a real “dude” if you know what I mean – a sweetened almond syrup with the essence of flower water – he’s really in touch with his “feminine side”.
Originating in the Middle East and Europe, the almond has found its place in cuisine all across the world. Personally, my vegan or raw meals are an epic fail without the use of their oil, crunch or butter in some way. It’s interesting once I discover its past, how the almond comes to be in my pot, in my kitchen, covered in water and sugar in order to produce some of the cocktails I crave the most in the summertime. I love making this syrup as well, plus different cocktails applications for “almonds” because they are often described as a tasting note from vodkas to rums to tawny ports, so if you know anything about me, you’ll know that I love to push the boundaries of what I can make with a common tasting note, just in time to mimic another.
Common Orgeat Cocktails that’ll make you beg for more:
Stir with ice and strain
0.75 oz brandy
0.25 oz orgeat syrup
0.25 oz lauren’s house bitters
1 or 2 pieces lemon Peel
1.75 oz jamaican rum
0.25 oz cointreau
0.75 oz lime juice
0.75 oz orange juice
0.75 oz orgeat syrup
0.25 oz lauren’s grapefruit bitters
shake, strain, collins glass, ice, mint
1.00 oz pisco
1.00 oz angostura bitters (rip the old cap for this one, don’t be scared)
0.75 oz lime juice
0.75-1.00 oz orgeat syrup
shake, strain, old fashioned glass
So here’s a question, how do you extract the most amount of almond flavour in the shortest amount of time?
WITHOUT NUTS: although the flavour of almonds is IN almonds, it’s not easy to extract from almonds. There are other ways you can make nut-free products that taste like nuts of course, but there’s one major factor – alcohol is a must. Trace amounts of harmful radicals found in the pits of stone fruits make this a “catch 22” situation – to me, although I am really really healthy and quite conscious of what I consume, I can justify trace amounts of cyanide – ya, that’s mental, but most things I crave in life are. Apricot pits, smashed to reveal the white membrane called “noyaux”. High extraction in alcohol of these super ripe white membranes will give you an “amaretto” tasting note without nuts – go figure. This noyaux extraction will happen in a super short period of time so leave it just for a week and strain. It’s not that bad, although like eating oysters, you’re still reminded you can get sick from them – as long as someone warned you about the affects of creating a noyaux flavouring, the rest is up to you. It’s better than killing someone that’s allergic to nuts.
WITH NUTS: here’s that gosh-darn delicious recipe I’ve been eluding to. Orgeat.
This makes an enormous batch as I am running a bar, but you should be able to divide all the ingredients by 4 and you’ll get a recipe that’s a bit easier to conquer in a home kitchen. I have to give a shout-out to David Wolowidnyk at West Restaurant in Vancouver for shooting over this recipe with some of my own personal additions to make it more “me”.
DAY 1 – 200g ground almonds, 600g blanched slivered almonds, 800g turbinado sugar, 4L water = bring all to a gentle simmer, and let cool.
DAY 2 – warm gently and strain. The weight liquid ratio is: 500g liquid to an additional 700g turbinado simple syrup = sounds like a lot, but it’s meant to be sweet, plus this aids in the shelf life and preservation. You can always add a drop of pure almond extract if the quality of the almonds you’re using are sub-par, meaning you didn’t spend $10/100g at Whole Foods (tee-hee). Add a couple of drops of both orange flower water and rose water to round’er out.
So freakin’ delicious.
If you’ve made any of the gingerbeers from one of the previous postings here on Poivre Media, take it, add some orgeat, white rum, cointreau and pineapple juice, plus a dash of angostura and you’re blissed out. If you’ve got a Muskoka chair and a view of the ocean and mountains like we do out here, you’re likely suffering a seizure from complete and utter happiness. Just sayin’.
Remember: Almonds are used quite frequently in cuisine due to its availability and flavour, plus it’s a protein replacement in those societies that consume bundles of beans and legumes, and seldom see meats on their plates, either by choice or involuntarily. Additionally, orgeat itself is found in a wide range of styles, and compliments the bring sweetness of the spirited region – rum, pisco, cachaca, tequila, mmmm the list continues.