The most widespread recipe online for orgeat is here, on The Art of Drink by Darcy O’Neil. I am incredibly indebted to him for starting me on this journey. Plus it is one of the most informative, interesting booze blogs out there. Cheers, Darcy!
Orgeat made in this manner is fresh, lush, light and milky. Sugar is dissolved into a rich almond milk without boiling, so the viscosity is low, and the resulting suspension is fairly unstable, so it tends to separate, both in the bottle and in prepared cocktails, which can result in a mottled, curdled appearance. This doesn’t affect the flavor or much of the mouthfeel of drinks, just the look. Plus, the mixture is volatile and can spoil readily. But it tastes so milky and lush! Just mixed with seltzer, with maybe a squeeze of lime, it is f’n delicious!
So why is this orgeat so vastly different from anything on the shelves?
Now, mind you, I like the flavor of commercial orgeat. It tastes like almond extract, like amaretto and marzipan and Italian almond cookies. Yum. But AofD’s orgeat tastes nothing like almond extract, and it’s made almost entirely of almonds. Where is the discrepancy? And what were bartenders using a hundred years ago? Does what we use do justice to the integrity of their cocktails?
Obviously, more research is in order.