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That nutty creaminess that’s the signature of many Tiki-inspired drinks—like, say, a classic mai tai, refreshing Kona swizzle, or fruity, crowd-pleasing rum punch—likely comes from one superstar ingredient: orgeat. Pronounced “or-zha” or “or-zhat,” this milky syrup is mildly floral, not cloyingly sweet, and can add extra oomph when good ol’ sugar water falls a little flat. But what is orgeat, other than a fancy cocktail ingredient with a name that’s extremely fun to say out loud? Allow us to explain.
What Is Orgeat?
Originally made from grain—it got its name from the French word orge, meaning “barley”—orgeat syrup is now most traditionally made from a combination of almonds (and sometimes other nuts) and orange flower water. This nonalcoholic sweetener is typically made one of two ways: either steeping finely chopped nuts in a simple syrup, or making a syrup by adding sugar directly to a prepared nut milk that is then cooked low and slow. It’s a little viscous and a light beige to golden in color (depending on the blend of nuts used), and it has a subtle perfume from that orange flower water. Different brands and regional variations may also include warming spices like cinnamon and clove, or other flavorings like vanilla or rose water, or a blend of different nuts that may include hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, and pistachios. It’s versatile, delicious, and a worthy addition to your bar cart or pantry.
Not all brands are created equal—some companies rely on artificial flavors or corn syrup to add bulk—so for maximum cocktail pleasure, be sure to grab the good stuff. We’re big fans of L’Orgeat, B.G. REYNOLDS Orgeat, and Liber & Co. Syrup, all brands made domestically from real cane sugar and other well-sourced ingredients.
B.G. REYNOLDS Orgeat, 25.4 Fl Oz
Liber & Co. Syrup, Almond Orgeat, 9.5 Ounce
How to Use Orgeat
The most obvious way to enjoy this aromatic syrup is in cocktails. Having a bottle or two of orgeat on hand means an iconic mai tai or a warming Amaro cocktail is only a trip to the liquor store away. You can also add a splash to a tall glass of seltzer or tart lemonade for an easy, refreshing, and complex nonalcoholic cooler. But orgeat has potential beyond the wonderful world of cocktails and mocktails. It’s delicious drizzled over fresh summer fruit (especially stone fruit like peaches and plums), pound cake, or ice cream. Wherever you need a little floral, complex sweetness, orgeat can provide.