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Pistachio Orgeat

three swing-top bottles of orgeat (pistachio, almond and hazelnut) sitting behind piles of nuts
Image:

Liquor.com / Tim Nusog

Orgeat is the French almond syrup that fortifies iconic Tiki cocktails like the Mai Tai and Scorpion with its trademark silky, nutty sweetness. Creamy and opalescent, orgeat was originally made with barley instead of almonds. When it was discovered that almonds lent much more flavor, barley dropped from the recipe entirely. The exact proportions of modern orgeat vary by maker, but the syrup generally relies on a combination of ground blanched almonds, sugar and a delicate thread of orange blossom or rose water.

Almonds aren’t the only answer to orgeat, however; pistachios and hazelnuts are also popular choices, lending their own unique flavor and character to the syrup. Fortunately, orgeat is easy to make regardless of which nut you choose. After pulverizing nuts in a food processor, they’re added to a pot with sugar and water, similar to how you make simple syrup. Let the flavors infuse for several hours, and then strain the mixture.

This Pistachio Orgeat recipe is dosed with a hint of vodka, which acts as a preservative, and orange flower water, which adds a floral note. Use the orgeat in Tiki drinks or any cocktail that can benefit from a sweet and nutty accent.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups raw, shelled pistachios

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar

  • 1 1/4 cups water

  • 1 ounce vodka

  • 1/2 teaspoon orange flower water

Steps

  1. Pulse the pistachios in a food processor until finely ground. Combine the sugar and water in a pot over medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves completely. Boil the syrup for three minutes, then add the ground pistachios. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for another three minutes, then slowly increase the temperature to medium-high. Just before it starts to boil, remove the syrup from the heat and cover with a lid.

  2. Allow the covered nut mixture to infuse for at least 3 hours or up to 8 hours. Then, strain it through two layers of cheesecloth, discarding the ground pistachios for another use. Stir the vodka and orange flower water into the nutty syrup. Use a small funnel to portion the orgeat into bottles or a jar. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.