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Orgeat


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#181 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 11:19 PM

[...] and a little tiny bit of grenadine (with apologies in advance to FrogPrincesse) [...]


Katie,

I appreciate the thought. Now you know you will have to watch for the Mai Tai police every time you get close to your bottle of grenadine! :biggrin:

I did not want to hijack the thread, so I posted my thoughts about grenadine in the Mai Tai topic here.

#182 slkinsey

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Posted 01 September 2011 - 08:01 AM

And I hate to say it, but overall I really think commercial orgeat plays better in the Japanese than my homemade versions usually do.

Homemade orgeat does have a tendency to recede far into the background or disappear altogether. This is because homemade orgeat is made with sweet almonds and no bitter almonds. It is the benzaldehyde found in bitter almonds (among other places) that provides the "almond flavor" that cuts.
There are a number of techniques you can use to provide the missing benzaldehyde component in a homemade orgeat:
  • You can find and use a percentage of actual bitter almonds (good luck finding any);
  • You can use perhaps 10% apricot kernels. Remember that many almond flavored things, such as Amaretto DiSaronno, are actually flavored with apricot kernels. Bitter apricot kernels have higher amounts of benzaldehyde are probably best for this and can be found on the internet, but people report good results with sweet apricot kernels;
  • You can add natural bitter almond extract/essence (more or less straight benzaldehyde from a natural source) to taste.

This is discussed fairly extensively upthread. Some people like to toast the almonds. I'm not particularly fond of this, as I think it reduces the versatility of the orgeat for use in white spirit drinks. I have had the best results by using blanched almonds, pulsing them roughly with water, soaking overnight, re-pulsing to a slightly finer consistency and then straining through cheesecloth. Looking at Katie's process, it would be interesting to do some side-by-side comparisons to see whether, for example, adding vodka actually did make any difference. Briefly infusing citrus zest in vodka certainly does make a difference when making things like grapefruit syrup. But I have my doubts as to whether adding vodka to something that is already mostly water would have an appreciable effect. Would be interesting to separate that out. I also wonder whether or not one really does "cook out" any special flavor by allowing the mixture to come to the boil when incorporating the sugar.
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#183 Sunny&Rummy

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Posted 01 September 2011 - 01:49 PM

And I hate to say it, but overall I really think commercial orgeat plays better in the Japanese than my homemade versions usually do.

Homemade orgeat does have a tendency to recede far into the background or disappear altogether. This is because homemade orgeat is made with sweet almonds and no bitter almonds. It is the benzaldehyde found in bitter almonds (among other places) that provides the "almond flavor" that cuts.
There are a number of techniques you can use to provide the missing benzaldehyde component in a homemade orgeat:
  • You can find and use a percentage of actual bitter almonds (good luck finding any);
  • You can use perhaps 10% apricot kernels. Remember that many almond flavored things, such as Amaretto DiSaronno, are actually flavored with apricot kernels. Bitter apricot kernels have higher amounts of benzaldehyde are probably best for this and can be found on the internet, but people report good results with sweet apricot kernels;
  • You can add natural bitter almond extract/essence (more or less straight benzaldehyde from a natural source) to taste.

This is discussed fairly extensively upthread. Some people like to toast the almonds. I'm not particularly fond of this, as I think it reduces the versatility of the orgeat for use in white spirit drinks. I have had the best results by using blanched almonds, pulsing them roughly with water, soaking overnight, re-pulsing to a slightly finer consistency and then straining through cheesecloth. Looking at Katie's process, it would be interesting to do some side-by-side comparisons to see whether, for example, adding vodka actually did make any difference. Briefly infusing citrus zest in vodka certainly does make a difference when making things like grapefruit syrup. But I have my doubts as to whether adding vodka to something that is already mostly water would have an appreciable effect. Would be interesting to separate that out. I also wonder whether or not one really does "cook out" any special flavor by allowing the mixture to come to the boil when incorporating the sugar.


Based on the good info in this thread I did exactly as you suggest and added a healthy dollop of bitter almond extract to my orgeat. It works well in a Mai Tai but doesn't taste quite right in a Japanese. It also doesn't make the drink look quite as appealing in the glass because it is so much milkier than the commercial stuff.

#184 KatieLoeb

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Posted 01 September 2011 - 03:26 PM

I poured 2 oz. of overproof vodka onto the warmed almonds in the blender container and let them sit for a couple of minutes before adding the water and pulsing to tiny bits. You might be right about it not making an appreciable difference, but certainly alcohol in theory at least, should be giving you a better infusion than just plain water. My feeling is it's a bit like chicken soup. It certainly can't hurt it. Many folks add vodka along with the brandy at the end of the process. I figured I'd try get some utility out of the vodka by adding it in sooner. :shrug: Not sure that short of extensive laboratory testing we'd ever really be able to get a solid answer to this question.

My orgeat looks a lot like iced coffee now that it's done. That's undoubtedly due to me using unbleached organic sugar rather than white bleached sugar. It doesn't look as pretty in the bottle by a long shot, but it certainly tastes fine and doesn't seem to be changing the color of the drinks dramatically. I haven't tried a Japanese yet, but it would be my first so I have no basis for comparison.

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#185 EvergreenDan

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Posted 01 September 2011 - 05:20 PM

Dear Sunny&Rummy,

I tried your Mai Tai recipe with Smith & Cross, Clement VSOP, Flor de Cana 7, and Trader Tiki orgeat. The result was, as Julia Child said, a bit of alright. It is me or my subs?

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#186 Sunny&Rummy

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Posted 01 September 2011 - 07:57 PM

Dear Sunny&Rummy,

I tried your Mai Tai recipe with Smith & Cross, Clement VSOP, Flor de Cana 7, and Trader Tiki orgeat. The result was, as Julia Child said, a bit of alright. It is me or my subs?

Signed,
Crabby in Boston


That doesn't look at all bad to me, but the Clement VSOP isn't going to bring the agricole funk forward in the way the Hors D'Age does. Even compared to St. James Royal Ambre the Clement is a little subdued. The subtle complexity of the Flor 7 is also probably going to me muted compared to richer and rounder Appleton Extra.

That said, if someone served me a Mai Tai made to your specs I would enjoy it 10 times out of 10.

#187 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 01 September 2011 - 08:45 PM

If we're voting, my favorite is 50/50 El Dorado 12 and Smith & Cross (though I've never tried the ED 15).
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#188 Zachary

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Posted 01 September 2011 - 10:02 PM

Dan,

One day, you're going to have to make the orgeat on KC - just find 2 people to give bottles away to. It's completely worth the time and effort, and it'll make everything you put it in better.

Thanks,

Zachary

#189 Hassouni

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 08:35 PM

So years after this thread was started, is there a really good commercial product yet?

#190 Zachary

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Posted 06 October 2011 - 08:58 PM

Hassouni,

Probably the best is the B.G. Reynolds Orgeat - the best way to tell is find the one with the least weird looking ingredients on the back label.

#191 vice

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Posted 07 October 2011 - 07:15 AM

You can also keep an eye out for the Small Hand Foods orgeat (made my member feste here). While I've probably had it in a few drinks around the Bay area, I have yet to pick up a bottle. It seems to be held in high regard, along with Zachary's recommendation.
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#192 Tri2Cook

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 04:27 AM

I'm going to risk being pelted with large ice cubes and ask the experts if there's any reason Luxardo amaretto wouldn't be a good sub for orgeat? It has a pure almond flavor with a bitterness at the very edge of the flavor that I haven't found in any other amaretto or in my attempts at homemade orgeat. It's definitely more tasty than any commercial orgeat available where I live (with the disclaimer that there are no high quality cocktail-targeted versions here). Would the extra alcohol involved cause problems subbing with it or is there something else I'm not seeing that makes it a bad choice? I realize it's a more costly choice but I can get it at the local store so it doesn't end up costing much more than paying to have a good orgeat shipped here.
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#193 EvergreenDan

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 09:04 AM

I just tried Luxardo Amaretto, Trader Tiki (now BG Reynolds), and Fee.

The Luxardo is intensely almond flavored, not excessively sweet, pure in flavor. I didn't detect the bitterness you noted. More like almond extract.

Trader Tiki, being a syrup, is intensely sweet, with a much more mild almond flavor. More like eating an almond while being beaten with a sugar cane.

Fee is also extremely sweet, with an almond extract flavor that is not as convincingly natural as the Amaretto.

On Chowhound, StriperGuy recommends Luxardo Amaretto for Mai Tai's (and he's made a lot of them). When subbing, I think you would need to cut the quantity down and perhaps use a secondary sweetener or adjust the acid in other ingerdients. The flavor would not be the same, but I think it would be compatible.

A Tiki fanatic may, of course, feel quite differently.
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#194 mkayahara

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 09:16 AM

When subbing, I think you would need to cut the quantity down and perhaps use a secondary sweetener or adjust the acid in other ingerdients.

Most Mai Tai recipes I've seen call for only a quarter ounce of orgeat anyway, which is small to begin with. I've always found that you need to increase it when using homemade orgeat.

Ultimately, you have to ask yourself what the orgeat is doing in the drink. It can sweeten, add an almond flavour or a benzaldehyde flavour, add body through the suspended oils, add opacity. Low-grade commercial orgeat is usually just simple syrup with almond flavouring and maybe colour anyway, so you're no worse off using amaretto, but the flavour is pretty strong, so you might have to rebalance in some cases. (Or make an "amaretto syrup".) As far as suspended oils, there are other ways to affect texture (using gum syrup, for one). And as for opacity, well, I find it off-putting to begin with, so I don't want to reproduce that. :raz:

All of which is to say that, from a functional standpoint, I see no reason you couldn't tweak recipes to substitute amaretto for orgeat. I rather imagine it would work better in some things than in others, though; I'm not sure I would want a brandy-and-amaretto Japanese, for example. But in Tiki drinks? I bet it would work.
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#195 Tri2Cook

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 01:43 PM

That's what I wanted to know. Thanks to both! I know the flavor in the Luxardo is more intense than any orgeat I can get locally and it's less syrupy sweet (and that bitterness I mentioned isn't so much a flavor element as a faint hint that almost sneaks by... maybe it's my imagination). Doesn't really sound like it would be as good a sub as I was hoping though, I don't really want to have to tweak recipes for something as simple to obtain as orgeat. I guess I'd better add ordering a good one to my list
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#196 Hassouni

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 02:12 PM

Believe it or not, I'm in the process of making my own orgeat now. Should have final results later today.

#197 Hassouni

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 04:35 PM

OK here we go....

blanched raw almonds after laboriously skinning them...
Posted Image

said almonds after being ground and soaked for 2 hrs in hot water, squeezed out as best I could sans cheesecloth...
Posted Image

Final product!
Posted Image

That's a 750ml squeeze bottle, so I used:

3 cups almonds
3 cups hot water for final soaking

This yielded a bit over two cups of almond milk. I then added almost 2 cups of evaporate cane sugar, with the idea to make it a roughly 1:1 syrup. After cooling, I added about two tsp orange blossom water and 1 tablespoon or so almond extract, topped with an ounce of vodka as a preservative.

Thoughts: Haven't tried it in a drink yet, but the drops of syrup I've tasted are divine. First off, just the almond milk and sugar has some of that telltale bitter almond taste - extremely subtle and very nice - if I were using this syrup as a dessert topping or something, I might stop there. With the almond extract and orange blossom water added, it's just lovely. Will make a mai tai tonight and report back.

Also, I should really invest in some cheesecloth...I tried coffee filters but they broke nearly instantly.

Edited by Hassouni, 15 November 2011 - 04:38 PM.


#198 eje

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 04:40 PM

Nylon Grain Bags available from your local home brew supply store are better than cheesecloth and reuseable.

For better shelf life, I would advise shooting for a 2-1 syrup.

I've found 1-1 Orgeat to spoil rather unfortunately quickly.
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#199 Hassouni

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 06:25 PM

Nylon Grain Bags available from your local home brew supply store are better than cheesecloth and reuseable.

For better shelf life, I would advise shooting for a 2-1 syrup.

I've found 1-1 Orgeat to spoil rather unfortunately quickly.


the oz of vodka won't help?

#200 mkayahara

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 06:27 PM


Nylon Grain Bags available from your local home brew supply store are better than cheesecloth and reuseable.

For better shelf life, I would advise shooting for a 2-1 syrup.

I've found 1-1 Orgeat to spoil rather unfortunately quickly.


the oz of vodka won't help?

In short, not really.
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#201 Hassouni

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 10:02 PM

So syrups will go bad with a bit of booze in them? I've had bottles of simple and grenadine around for about a month with nothing going off yet.... is 2:1 a better preservative? I'm keeping everything in the fridge, for the record.

#202 haresfur

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 11:39 PM

I confess to using amaretto in tiki-ish drinks as a lazy way of going. Generally shooting from the hip on everything else, though - a bit of rum(s), a bit of fruit juice, a bit of lime, adjust to taste. Only you can decide if it would be up to your standards and suit your philosophy. I don't think I can get Luxardo here.
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#203 Hassouni

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 12:50 AM

Hm, after making a mai tai, I may add a few more drops of almond extract...

#204 evo-lution

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 09:22 AM

All of which is to say that, from a functional standpoint, I see no reason you couldn't tweak recipes to substitute amaretto for orgeat.


I'd disagree with that, the difference between the two is vast. I can't think of a single drink where it'd work as an adequate substitute without offering a massively different end-product.

So syrups will go bad with a bit of booze in them? I've had bottles of simple and grenadine around for about a month with nothing going off yet.... is 2:1 a better preservative? I'm keeping everything in the fridge, for the record.


If it's being used as a preservative it doesn't make a huge amount of difference, it's the amount of sugar that is key to shelf-life.

I recommend adding a little brandy or Grand Marnier for a little more depth, and also roasting the almonds prior to blanching them. I've a really good recipe on my website though note it should read 5ml of orange-flower/rose water and not 25ml.

Edited by evo-lution, 16 November 2011 - 09:28 AM.

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#205 eje

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 12:34 PM

Alcohol in solution makes very little difference in spoilage, unless you get to levels where your syrup would be considered a liqueur.

Alcohol (preferably high proof) used as a surface disinfectant immediately prior to bottling is not a bad idea. Shake a little 151 in your bottle and pour it out before bottling.

Highly saturated sugar solutions, for example honey or most commercial syrups, are extremely shelf stable, even at room temp, with little care paid to sanitation.

Edited by eje, 16 November 2011 - 12:35 PM.

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#206 slkinsey

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 02:00 PM

Strangely enough, however, there have been people who have done informal experiments and have found that the addition of a small amount of alcohol does seem to make a difference. It doesn't make nearly as much difference as sugar saturation, however.
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#207 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 16 November 2011 - 02:18 PM

I could be wrong but I would imagine that alcohol should help to some extent. Both sugar and ethanol levels lower water activity, which in turn should limit microbial growth.

#208 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 08:54 PM

Tonight I made the version of the Army and Navy from Bartender's Choice (which contains gin, lemon, orgeat, angostura) with my homemade orgeat.


Posted Image

It's really excellent; the orgeat offsets the acidity of the lemon and gives body to the drink.

#209 FrogPrincesse

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 12:52 PM

To recap the cocktails I made so far with my homemade orgeat, by base liquor:

Rum: Mai tai, Bitter Mai Tai, Scorpion, Cavalier
Cognac: Japanese
Cachaca: Rio Bravo
Gin: Army and Navy (previous post)
Rye: Trinidad Sour
Bourbon: Eastern Sour

I realized that I had not tried pairing orgeat with tequila.
So last night I checked the Bartender's Choice app and came up with the Infante (Giuseppe Gonzalez): tequila, lime juice, orgeat.

Posted Image

It's very simple, and looks gorgeous in the glass.

I see some online examples that use grated nutmeg, which sounds like a great idea. I really liked this cocktail as it accentuates the delicate flavor of the orgeat.

#210 mkayahara

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Posted 15 May 2012 - 03:34 PM

Sounds nice, FrogPrincesse. Seems like tequila and orgeat aren't paired together very often.
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