This summer was supposed to be my “Summer of Tiki”. The best laid plans….maybe next summer.
I did make orgeat, though!
Used in many cocktails, most notably the venerable Mai Tai, orgeat is essentially an emulsion of water and almond oil. That, along with the addition of sugar and orange flower water results in a sweet, floral almond flavored syrup.
I made it twice actually, the first time I closely followed the recipe posted on the Imbibe website. However, I found that all of the cocktails I made with it were improved with the addition of a little simple syrup (and I’m not a sticky sweet cocktail fan.) So, for the second round I increased the sweetness as well as the amount of orange flower water and I enjoy it more. Tailor the flavor components to your tastes by adding a little bit at a time until you get it just the way you want it. I ended up pouring out half of the first syrup because it got funky before I was able to use it all, so I reduced the recipe volume by half in hopes that less of it would ultimately wind up down the drain.
Here’s what I did:
1 1/4 Cup Raw Almonds
3 1/5 Cups Water
1/2 Cup Cane Sugar
1 oz Vodka
1 T Orange Flower Water
Roughly chop the almonds, place in bowl, and cover with water (about 1 3/4 Cup). Let the almonds soak for 30 minutes , then strain out the almonds and discard the liquid.
Transfer the almonds to a blender or food processor (I would recommend a food processor). Grind the almonds until they are of a coarse consistency. Add a little water if it makes the blending easier. Transfer them to a bowl (you can use the same bowl from above) and add the rest of the water (about 1 3/4 Cup).
Steep the almonds for 2 hours. Stirring once or twice.
Line a strainer with cheesecloth and set over another bowl. Pour the almonds and liquid through the cheesecloth. When the liquid has drained through, gather up the edges of the cloth collecting the almonds into a ball in the center and squeeze. You’re trying to press out as much of the oils as you can before continuing the steeping.
Then remove the strainer and add the almonds back to the liquid. Give it a good stir and allow to steep for another 2-3 hours, stirring every hour or so.
After that steep, strain through the cheesecloth again (just like after the 2 hour mark), squeezing the life out of the almonds. This time discard the almonds afterward.
Transfer the almond water to a small pot along with 1/2 cup of sugar and gently heat over low flame until the sugar has fully dissolved. Turn off the heat and allow to cool to room temp.
Stir in the tablespoon of orange flower water and the ounce of vodka (or other booze of choice). You can skip the booze if you want to make this non-alcoholic.
I gave it one more filter through a fine mesh strainer as I transferred it to bottle.
Store in the refrigerator, and use within 2-3 weeks. This will separate, just give it a good shake before using. If after shaking it is still distinctly separate, then it’s time to throw that out and make some more.