Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Almond Water, Orgeat and Cocktails

I spotted recently that Victoria’s Kitchen Almond Water was introduced to the UK last month along with the launch of two new flavours: Almond Water Coconut and Almond Water Liquorice Mint. The company was started by husband-and-wife duo David and Deborah Meniane. Originally from France, Victoria’s Kitchen Almond Water was inspired by David's grandmother's (Victoria), recipe and was named after her. It's a refreshing drink but you can also use it in a variety of cocktails (their website has several good ones here).

Almonds are part of the plum family and are native to North Africa, West Asia and the Mediterranean. Almond Water (sometimes also known as Almond Milk) has been made for centuries throughout these regions. It was a staple in the Medieval kitchen as cow's milk could not be kept for long without spoiling and was usually immediately turned into butter or cheese.

In the UK – where almond trees don't thrive – we used barley instead, hence Barley Water. Robinsons Lemon Barley Water is still the 'official still soft drink' at Wimbledon (having been so since 1934) – and incidentally warm Lemon Barley Water is great for soothing a sore throat.

With the onset of refrigeration the use of Almond Water diminished but syrups and cordials were made using the same process. Orgeat is a sweet syrup made from almonds, sugar and rose water or orange flower water. It's used to flavour coffees, drinks, desserts and many cocktails – the most famous ones being the Mai Tai and the Momisette.


This is a traditional French drink, the name of which literally translates as 'little mummy'.

30ml Pastis
8ml Orgeat
Sparkling Mineral Water

Add pastis and orgeat to a Collins glass, fill with ice and top off with sparkling mineral water.

Mai Tai

Mai Tai is the Tahitian word for good and the Mai Tai cocktail was popularised in the 1950s and 60s in tiki-themed restaurants and bars – it was featured in the Elvis Presley film Blue Hawaii.

40ml White Rum
20ml Dark Rum
15ml Orange Curaçao
15ml Orgeat
10ml Fresh Lime Juice

Shake all ingredients except the dark rum together in a mixer with ice. Strain into a Highball glass and float the dark rum onto the top. Garnish and serve with straw.

You can also add a few splashes of Orgeat to Champagne if you'd like to create a novel aperitif – I'd suggest using a sparkling wine as a less extravagant alternative: Comte de Laube (£8.50) would be a good choice as it has subtle notes of toasted almond and will harmonise beautifully.

There are several producers who offer Orgeat – Torani is based in the USA. In 1925, Rinaldo and Ezilda Torre visited family in Lucca, Italy. The two returned home to their native San Francisco with something very important: handwritten recipes, which they used to create authentic flavored syrups. These syrups helped Rinaldo and Ezilda reintroduce the Italian soda to their North Beach neighbourhood. Today, Torani are a global presence but have remained a family-owned company making over 100 varieties of syrup.

Vedrenne has been making its liqueurs, eaux de vie, brandies and syrups since 1923 in Nuits-Saint-Georges, in the heart of Burgundy in the middle of the burgundian orchards. The company initially won fame with the outstanding quality of its Crème de Cassis and has since gone on to acquire international recognition.


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