Orgeat – Recipe & History

Orgeat Syrup
Orgeat Syrup

The History Of Orgeat.

Orgeat began as barley water. Its name comes from the Latin word hordeaceus, which translates to “of barley” or instead made of barley. Over time the barley water became sweeter, and variations emerged. One of these variations is the Spanish tiger nut horchata and the almond orzata/orgeat. The English word orgeat comes from the word orge, Which is French for barley. In parts of northern Africa, “rozata” is an almond drink typically prepared for weddings or special occasions. Most countries along the Mediterranean Sea have some barley/nut drink whose romantic name is derived from the Latin word hordeaceus. Over time, these nut juices were sweetened and concentrated into a syrup that could be used in many different drinks.

The earliest reference to orgeat in the Americas that I can find is from a 1779 newspaper article detailing the goods sold in a shop in Newport, R.I. The particular store owner was a man named Nathan Hart, and he even had orgeat listed under the “Liqueurs” section and not the standard grocery. This shows that orgeat was used in alcoholic drinks even in the 18th century, predating Jerry Thomas’s early use of it by 80 years. Orgeat’s use as a sweetener in American-style mixed drinks most likely originated in the late 18th century.

The Dangers Of Bitter Almonds

Bitter Almonds are very poisonous. Each seed contains around 4 mg of cyanide. Depending on body weight and size, just ten bitter almonds (or less) are enough to kill a grown man. The formation of hydrogen cyanide in bitter almonds is a defensive measure from the plant to ensure that animals do not eat its seeds. Many plants do this, and it would surprise you to find out how many plants we regularly eat contain cyanide. Specific to almonds, though, all plant seeds in the Rosaceae family contain high amounts of cyanide. This includes apples, cherries, apricots, pears, peaches, etc. A bitter almond seed contains a carbohydrate called Amygdalin and an enzyme called Emulsin. Hydrogen Cyanide (HCN) is formed when the seed’s cell walls are broken, the emulsin and amygdalin mix, and the amygdalin is broken down. The byproducts of amygdalin breakdown are Benzaldehyde (the bitter almond/cherry flavor) and Hydrogen cyanide (The poisonous gas part). It is essential to have a cyanide test kit to know precisely how much cyanide is present, and if you are unfamiliar with working with bitter almonds, then it is best to leave them out.

How To Make An Amazing Orgeat

The desirable qualities of a good orgeat are to be rich and creamy with a high amount of emulsified almond fat and to have a distinctive bitter almond/cherry flavor. There are several ways to achieve this.

It needs to be cooked for a bit to get a creamy high-fat orgeat. It takes heat and time to melt the almond oils out of a nut, so a few minutes of cooking isn’t going to cut it. The mixture should simmer for at least 30 to 45 minutes to adequately heat the oils out. Seeping/infusing the nuts in water doesn’t work either because water does not dissolve oil. Sweet almonds have 50% more fat than bitter almonds, so a blend of sweet and bitter almonds is traditionally used to achieve the desired fat to flavor ratio. It helps to grind the nut down as small as possible, but it still takes heat and time to melt the fat, swell the cells with hot water, and push the almond fat out. A stick blender helps break down the pieces to their smallest size.

To get a pleasantly bitter almond cherry flavor, bitter almonds are traditionally used, but bitter almond extract is a safer way to get the same taste. The chemical responsible for that flavor is Benzaldehyde. The breakdown of amygdalin creates Benzaldehyde, but Hydrogen Cyanide is also made in that process. Hydrogen Cyanide needs to be boiled off to ensure the mixture is safe, and testing must be done to validate its safety. I’ll be honest. I was thinking about publishing a traditional North African orgeat recipe, but I have decided not to as the risk is greater than zero. If not prepared properly, it can be dangerous. Keeping bitter almonds around can be dangerous if children are present as they could find them and try to eat them; they need to be ground up and cooked correctly (evaporating the cyanide while minimizing the oxidation of benzaldehyde takes a gentle touch), and proper testing must be done of the syrup. It needs to be cooked in a well-ventilated area. That is asking too much of the casual mixologist who wants to make some at home. Alternatively, bitter almond extract can be used to add bitter almond flavor without the risk. Therefore that will be the recipe I will provide. The result is similar enough that it’s hard to tell the difference, it’s easy to add bitter almond extract, and it has none of the same risks.

It is also preferable to blanc the seeds and remove the almond skins. The almond seeds’ outer skin is bitter and offers no desirable flavor. Almond skins can also cause nettle rash in some individuals when eaten. It is easy to find blanched almonds and preground almond flour, but removing the skins yourself is easy. Pour boiling water on top of the seed and let them sit for a few minutes. The skins quickly absorb the hot water and swell up. This detaches the skins from the seeds and makes the skins easy to rub off with just your fingers.

Recipe Resources

NOTE: The book linked below is an amazing resource. If cooking, baking or making your own drink ingredients is something, you want to get into or improve your knowledge of I highly recommend it.

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Orgeat

5 from 1 vote Only logged in users can rate recipes
Course: DrinksCuisine: French
Servings

15

servings
Calories

80

kcal
Total time

1

hour 

Learn how to make flavorful orgeat.

Ingredients

  • 2.5 oz Fine Ground Sweet Almonds

  • 12 oz Water

  • 12 oz White Sugar

  • 1 tsp Bitter Almond Extract

  • 1.5 tsp Lemon Juice

  • 1.5 tsp Rose Water

  • Optional Ingredients
  • 1.5 oz Liquid Gum Arabic

  • 3 g Lecithin

Directions

  • First blanch the almonds to remove the skin, then using a food processor or blender, grind the almonds into a fine flour.
  • Combine the almond flour and water in a saucepan. cover the top and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Add more water if needed. 
  • Over a large bowl, line a mesh strainer with cheesecloth and pour the mixture in. Let it sit for a bit to cool.
  • Once the mixture has cool, so as not to burn yourself, squeeze and press the cheesecloth to remove any additional almond fat. Optionally add the lecithin at this point and whisk to combine.
  • Measure the amount of fluid. The goal is to have 1.5 cups. Water evaporated and soaked the almonds during the cooking process so add more to bring it up to 1.5 cups.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and whisk together. Optionally add gum syrup and blend everything in a blender. Bottle and refrigerate or freeze to store for an extended period of time.
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Cocktails That Use Orgeat


Related Post

Saturn – Original Recipe & History

Saturn
Saturn

The History Of The Saturn Cocktail.

The Saturn cocktail was invented by Filipino bartender Joseph “Po Po” Galsini as one of their entries for the 1967 IBA World Cocktail Competition. (In Filipino culture, it’s a term of endearment for older people to say a younger persons’ first name twice in some cutesy way. For example, someone named Tom would be called Tom Tom, Luna becomes Lu Lu, Mario becomes Mo Mo, etc.). Working as a school teacher in the Philippines, Joseph Galsini (I am not his senior and have no emotional connection to him, so I don’t feel right calling him Po Po) immigrated to the United States in 1928, where he began bartending in California. Joseph and his team eventually went on to win first place at the 1953 and 1954 IBA World Cocktail Competition. In 1967 one of the cocktails they entered was the Saturn, named after the Saturn V rocket also invented that same year. They didn’t win that year, but they still created a very memorable tiki-style cocktail with a fun garnish. The Saturn cocktail was rediscovered by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, who was able to save the recipe thanks to Bob Esmino, a fellow Filipino Bartender who got his start helping to open Don’s Beachcomber Cafe. Thanks to Bob Esmino remembering the recipe, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry was able to publish it in his 2010 book “Beachbum Berry Remix”. Sadly Joseph Galsini died in a car crash in 1982. Check out This lengthy article about Joseph on the Daily Beast by David Wondrich.

Is the Saturn Blended Or Shaken?

The most common way this drink is made is by shaking the ingredients, making for a delicious drink. But, according to Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, who got his recipe from Bob Esmino, who worked with Joseph Galsini, the original Saturn was blended. Both are great ways to make the Saturn, and it just comes down to texture.

How To Make The Saturn Garnish.

The Saturn is tasty, but it is the garnish that stands out about this cocktail. Joseph Galsini topped the Saturn off with a lemon peel circled around a maraschino cherry to resemble Saturn. The garnish is more aesthetic than functional, and damn, it looks good. The garnish is made by peeling the whole circumference of a lemon and pinning a cherry in the middle. I’m personally not the biggest fan of overly decorative garnishes and feel if a garnish does not contribute directly to the drink’s flavor, then it should be omitted. Still, I make an exception for this drink. Also, I am always a little disappointed if I order a Saturn at a bar or restaurant and don’t get the Saturn garnish. I don’t care whether it is blended or shaken; I just want to see that cute little cherry with a lemon peel around it.

Recipe Resources

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Saturn

5 from 1 vote Only logged in users can rate recipes
Course: DrinksCuisine: American
Servings

1

servings
Calories

224

kcal
ABV

20%

Total time

3

minutes

Make a Classic Saturn Cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1/2 oz Lemon Juice

  • 1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup

  • 1/3 oz Falernum

  • 1/3 oz Orgeat

  • 1.5 oz Dry Gin

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients into a blender with a single scoop of ice cubes.
  • Blend on low for a few seconds or till the ice is mostly pulverized. Then blend on high for 5 seconds to completely crush the ice and turn the drink into a slushy texture.
  • Pour into serving glass. Garnish with a long lemon peel circling a cherry on a cocktail pick.

Recipe Video

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Picon Punch – Original Recipe & History

Original Picon Punch
Original Picon Punch

The History Of The Picon Punch.

If you have not heard of this, it’s not surprising. It’s primarily made in the western side of the United States and is popular in parts of California and Nevada with large Basque immigrant populations. If you go to Basque areas in northern Spain, they will have no idea what this is. Most of the histories I have found on this credit its creation to the Noriega Hotel in Bakersfield, California. Although I think that was more just a story used by the hotel. The earliest printed reference of the Picon Punch is from the 1900 book “Cocktail Boothby’s American Bartender” by William Boothby of San Francisco, California. It’s the first recipe listed in “miscellaneous and unclassified drinks” and is called an Amer Picon. The drink is labeled as already being a popular beverage in France, and that makes a lot more sense to me than it was invented in Bakersfield, California, during the end of the 19th century. The part I found most difficult to imagine was that a small hotel in Bakersfield was using grenadine before 1900.

The most popular red fruit syrup in the US before 1900 was raspberry syrup. William Boothby was the first American bartender to print recipes using grenadine. Grenadine first started being used in France and England around 1890; in his 1891 edition of the book, the Amer Picon cocktail does not use grenadine but orgeat. The change from orgeat to grenadine makes sense, too, with grenadine’s explosive popularity in France during that decade. Check out my grenadine article for its history and use in cocktails.

The hotel was founded in 1893, so that would have given them plenty of time to use Amer Picon before it stopped being imported to the US in 1920, but I don’t buy that it was invented there. The use of grenadine and references to its recipe many years before its origin story says it was created point to it being traditionally a French cocktail.

What Does The Picon Punch Taste Like?

I will say that using grenadine instead of orgeat was the right choice. The drink is still good, but the later grenadine version is better. While the grenadine version is like an herbal pomegranate flavored soda, this one has a nutty flavor that doesn’t balance the herbal flavors, and the fruity grenadine does. If the nuttier flavor sounds better to you, try this one. Keep in mind this is just one person’s opinion.

Amer Picon is still not imported into the US, so this is made now with substitutes. Also, Amer Picon isn’t made the same today as during the turn of the century. The alcohol content is different, and so is the flavor. It used to be around 40% abv, and today it’s 18%, and the taste has been updated for modern palates, so basically, it’s an entirely different ingredient other than the name. You’ll never be able to recreate this drink in its original form completely, so find a bittersweet/orangey aperitif you like. Even if you get an actual bottle of Amer Picon from France, it won’t taste like old Amer Picon anyway.

Recipe Resources

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Picon Punch (Original Recipe)

0 from 0 votes Only logged in users can rate recipes
Course: DrinksCuisine: French
Servings

1

servings
Calories

227

kcal
ABV

15%

Total time

3

minutes

Learn how to make a classic 1800s style Picon Punch.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 oz Orgeat

  • 2 oz Amer Picon

  • 2 oz Soda Water

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients except for the soda water into the serving glass with ice.
  • Stir and combine those ingredients together while also chilling them.
  • Lastly add the soda water.

Notes

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Fog Cutter – Original Recipe & History

Fogcutter
Fogcutter

What Does The Fog Cutter Taste Like?

This is defiantly more on the tart side of tiki drinks and is closer in taste to a sour than most juice-filled tiki cocktails. Think of this as a nutty tiki version of a rum sour. It’s a beautiful cocktail that is more to the taste of someone who likes sours than Dark & Stormies or mules.

Nothing too interesting in the history of this cocktail. It was invented by Victor Bergeron for Trader Vic’s and was one of his most popular cocktails, second to the Mai Tai. Trader Vic’s Bartending Guide says that after 2 of these, you won’t even see straight anymore, but I have had 2 or 3 of them, and I was alright. There are countless variations on this guy (true for almost all tiki drinks), but here is the tried and true recipe from Trader Vic’s book itself.

Floating Sherry On Top.

The last ingredient in this cocktail is to do a sherry float on top. Here is the thing: sherry is very dense and thus can not float. Floating alcohols on top of each other are based on weight. Sugar is heavier than water, water is heavier than alcohol, and the heaviest ingredient will always sit at the bottom. The sherry is way more sugary than the drink. Therefore, it will want to drop to the bottom. This works out to have a cool effect and make it look like the sherry is cutting through the drink. If you want an excellent dark float that will sit at the top, try using 151, as it has less sugar than the rest of the drink and is much more alcoholic, so it floats on top.

Recipe Resources

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Fog Cutter

0 from 0 votes Only logged in users can rate recipes
Course: DrinksCuisine: American
Servings

1

servings
Calories

344

kcal
ABV

19%

Total time

3

minutes

Learn how to make the Fog Cutter.

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Lemon Juice

  • 1 oz Orange Juice

  • 1/2 oz Orgeat

  • 1/2 oz Dry Gin

  • 2 oz White Rum

  • 1 oz Brandy

  • 1 oz Sherry

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients except the sherry into a shaker, and add a scoop of shaved ice. If you do not have shaved ice then crushed ice will do.
  • Vigorously shake till the shaker is ice cold and frosted.
  • Pour the whole shaker into the serving glass. Ice and all
  • Top with a float of sherry.

Notes

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Scorpion – Original Recipe & History

Scorpion
Scorpion

The History Of The Scorpion Cocktail.

The original scorpion was not a bowl or an individual cocktail but a punch from Victor Bergeron’s First book from 1947 and was a punch made for 12. The original scorpion recipe was 1.5 bottles of rum, 2 oz gin, 2 oz brandy, 1 pint of lemon juice, 1/2 a pint of orange juice, 1/2 a pint worth of orgeat, 1/2 a bottle of white wine, and two sprigs of mint. Those are odd proportions like Trader Vic added the gin and mint as a joke. That original scorpion punch is also in the 1972 edition, but the updated edition included his more popular versions of the scorpion.

Trader Vic heavily modified the recipe over the years and, in his 1972 edition, added the scorpion bowl and a single scorpion cocktail. The recipe here is the single-serve version and, in my opinion, the best version of the drink. But I will say those flaming scorpion bowls are a ton of fun. Oddly enough, the scorpion bowl, which is made to serve 3, is not just 3x the ingredients of the single-serve one. The ingredients are the same, but the volumes are different.

What Does The Scorpion Taste Like?

The scorpion was Trader Vic’s third most popular cocktail, and while I think this is the best version of the drink, it’s not a top-tier tiki cocktail in my book. It’s just kind of juice and booze. Again that is a personal opinion, and taste is subjective. It’s good but not outstanding. I envision juice, booze, and spice when I think tiki, but this cocktail lacks spice. The orgeat adds a nice nuttiness to the drink, but the white rum, orange juice, and lemon juice are the most prominent flavors. And if it’s going to be heavy on the juice, let it be exotic juices like pomegranate, passion fruit, pineapple, papaya, etc., not just orange and lemon. This is a tiki drink I would have loved when I first started drinking tiki drinks, but a decade and a half in, this comes off bland to me.

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Scorpion Cocktail

0 from 0 votes Only logged in users can rate recipes
Course: DrinksCuisine: American
Servings

1

servings
Calories

296

kcal
ABV

17%

Total time

3

minutes

Learn how to make the Scorpion.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz Lemon Juice

  • 2 oz Orange Juice

  • 1/2 oz Orgeat

  • 1 oz Brandy

  • 2 oz White Rum

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients into a blender with a single scoop of ice cubes.
  • Blend on low for 10 seconds or till the ice is mostly pulverized.
  • Now blend on high for 5-10 seconds to completely crush the ice and turn the drink into a slushy texture.
  • Pour into serving glass.

Notes

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Whiskey Daisy – Original Recipe & History

Whiskey Daisy
Whiskey Daisy

The History Of The Daisy Style Cocktail.

The daisy was another early cocktail style emerging around the same time as the crusta and many other early standard sour cocktails. The Daisy is essentially a crusta with an ounce of soda water to cut the intensity and make the cocktail more refreshing. First appearing in the 1862 edition of the bartender’s guide by Jerry Thomas, The daisy is a beautiful cocktail if you find the standard sour is too strong.

What Does The Whiskey Daisy Taste Like?

The Whiskey Daisy is a beautiful little cocktail that adds a bit of refreshing soda water to a delicious sour cocktail. The small amount of Orgeat adds a lovely almond and cherry taste while the bourbon still shines through as the primary flavor of this cocktail.

The Right Ingredients To Use For This Cocktails.

The most essential ingredient in this cocktail is the orgeat and the kind of whiskey you use. Unlike most cocktails, this one benefits from a nicer bourbon as none of the other ingredients are made to overshadow the base spirit. The subtleties of a nicer whiskey still shine through, so medium-grade bourbon ends up making for a better product. The orgeat is another essential ingredient that adds a faint note of almond and cherry to the cocktail. The issue is cheaper orgeats taste like sweet almond milk and lack the bitter almond cherry flavor of genuine orgeat syrup. If you have a bottle of almond baking extract in your pantry, give that a taste, and you will know what orgeat should taste like. The orgeat is what separates this cocktail from tasting like a standard whiskey sour with soda water.

Recipe Resources

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Whiskey Daisy

0 from 0 votes Only logged in users can rate recipes
Course: DrinksCuisine: American
Servings

1

servings
Calories

161

kcal
ABV

20%

Total time

3

minutes

Learn how to make the a classic Whiskey Daisy.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 oz Lemon Juice

  • 2 dashes Orgeat

  • 3 dashes Gum Syrup

  • 2 oz Bourbon

  • 1.5 oz Soda Water

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients in the shaker except for the soda water. Add ice to the shaker.
  • Vigorously shake till the shaker is ice cold and frosted.
  • Strain into glass to remove ice shards
  • Gently add the soda water

Notes

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Japanese Cocktail No.2 – Modern Recipe

Japanese Cocktail Post-Prohibition Style
Japanese Cocktail Post-Prohibition Style

Jerry Thomas invented the Japanese Cocktail in the 1860s, but nothing about this cocktail is Japanese. None of the ingredients are from Japan or have any association with Japan. Some sources say it is named this to commemorate the first representative of Japan coming to the United States in the 1860s after the United States forced them to open their borders in 1853, but who the hell knows.

I like to imagine the name came about because the faint almond/cherry flavor the orgeat adds conjures up images of cherry blossom trees, but I am entirely making that up and in no way claim this to be true.

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Japanese Cocktail #2

0 from 0 votes Only logged in users can rate recipes
Course: DrinksCuisine: American
Servings

1

servings
Calories

171

kcal
ABV

32%

Total time

3

minutes

Learn how to make the Post prohibition Japanese Cocktail.

Ingredients

  • 2 dashes

  • Angostura Bitters
  • 1/2 oz Orgeat

  • 2 oz Brandy

Directions

  • Add Ice To Mixing Glass and combine all ingredients in the mixing glass.
  • Stir the ingredients for 20 – 30 seconds to properly chill and dilute the drink
  • Strain into glass.

Notes

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Japanese Cocktail – Original Recipe & History

Japanese Cocktail Pre-Prohibition
Japanese Cocktail Pre-Prohibition

Jerry Thomas invented the Japanese Cocktail in the 1860s, nothing Japanese about this cocktail. None of the ingredients are from Japan or have any association with Japan. Some sources say it is named this to commemorate the first representative of Japan coming to the United States in the 1860s after the United States forced them to open their borders in 1853, but who the hell knows.

This is the original recipe for this cocktail as it uses Boker’s/Cardamom bitters; once Boker’s went out of business, bartenders started using Angostura bitters which taste entirely different.

Recipe Resources

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Japanese Cocktail

0 from 0 votes Only logged in users can rate recipes
Course: DrinksCuisine: American
Servings

1

servings
Calories

171

kcal
ABV

32%

Total time

3

minutes

Learn how to make a classic Japanese cocktail from the 1862 edition of the Bartenders guide by Jerry Thomas.

Ingredients

  • 2 dashes Cardamom Bitters

  • 1/2 oz Orgeat

  • 2 oz Brandy

Directions

  • Add Ice To Mixing Glass and combine all ingredients in the mixing glass.
  • Stir the ingredients for 20 – 30 seconds to properly chill and dilute the drink.
  • Strain into glass.

Notes

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Durango – Classic Recipe

Durango
Durango

The Durango. An Almond Paloma.

I only mention the Paloma to this since it has grapefruit and tequila, but the Durango is not related to the Paloma. This recipe comes from the 1972 Trader Vics Bartending Guide, predating the Paloma by around 15 to 20 years. The Paloma also uses grapefruit soda, while this recipe uses frozen concentrated grapefruit juice. I have the recipe here using fresh grapefruit juice, but the original Durango recipe calls for 1.5 oz of frozen concentrated grapefruit juice. Frozen concentrated juices are not as easy to come by as they were in the 60s and 70s, let alone frozen concentrated grapefruit juice. Since frozen concentrates are reconstituted by adding three times the concentrated volume with water, I have the 1.5 oz grapefruit juice reconstituted back to 6 oz.

A Short History of Tiki.

Contrary to popular belief, the Tiki cocktail and culture has nothing to do with traditional Polynesian culture or drinking and was born in 1930s Hollywood, California. As with many cocktails during prohibition, the trend of mixing drinks in the United States, which differed from the cocktail trends being made in Europe during the same time, moved more and more toward using fruit juices, syrups, and liqueurs to mask the taste of poor quality liquor. The epitome of this became the tiki cocktail. The Tiki trend can be traced back to two specific originators, Donn Beach and Victor Bergeron, in California.

Immediately at the end of prohibition, Donn Beach opened Don the Beachcomber near Hollywood Blvd. and themed the bar around Polynesian caricature culture in classic Hollywood style. It was like stepping into a Hawaiian vacation. This is what sold the public on it. Not only were the cocktails boozy, sweet, and damn good, It was an escape from the realities of life and the great depression the United States was currently in. Soon after opening Victor Bergeron visited Don The Beachcomber and fell in love with what Donn Beach created; he brought the Tiki theme back home to the Bay Area, where he opened Trader Vic’s. The tiki style slowly spread and exploded after WWII into a full-on Tiki craze. Peaking in the 50s with parents theming their home bars in tiki fashion and hosting tiki parties, the trend began to fade in the 60s. Returning in a bit in the early 2000s, the Tiki bar started to make a modest comeback. Not to the former glory it once had, but today most cities have at least 1 or 2 tiki bars that make excellent drinks.

Only Victor Bergeron published his recipes as far as the two creators of the tiki bar, Donn Beach and Victor Bergeron. After 1989, when Donn Beach died, there wasn’t a single person who knew his recipes. Only Donn knew, and he took those recipes to the grave with him. Fearing that others would copy his cocktails, Donn was the only one who knew his recipes and would show up early each day to pre-mix batches of mixer in private. Not even his bartenders knew and bottles were labeled “mixer” #1, #2, #3 etc, “Spice mix” #1, #2, etc, “Donn’s mix” #1, #2, etc. Famous Beachcomber cocktails like the Pearl Diver, three dots and a dash, and Zombie are all former bartenders’ and patrons’ best guesses as to what the recipe was. Jeff Berry is the go-to historian for all things tiki and has done more than anyone to help preserve these recipes and interview those with first-hand experience. His reconstructions of Donn’s recipes are perhaps the closest we will ever be to the original recipes. But with Victor Bergeron, there are none of those issues. He wrote every one of his recipes down and published them in several books. Just look it up if you want to know the original Mai Tai, Fogcutter, or Navy Grog recipes. If you can’t find his book, google the EUVS Vintage cocktail website. It’s a free resource owned by Pernod Ricard that has almost every single cocktail book ever printed available to read.

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Durango

0 from 0 votes Only logged in users can rate recipes
Course: DrinksCuisine: American
Servings

1

servings
Calories

200

kcal
ABV

10%

Total time

3

minutes

Learn how to make a classic Durango Cocktail.

Ingredients

  • 6 oz Grapefruit Juice

  • 1.5 oz Silver Tequila

  • 1 tsp Orgeat

  • 2 oz Soda Water

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients except for the soda water in a shaker with ice.
  • Vigorously shake till the shaker is ice cold and frosted.
  • Pour into the serving glass. Lastly add the soda water.

Notes

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Mai Tai – Original Recipe & History

Mai Tai
Mai Tai

The History of The Mai Tai.

The Mai Tai has unfortunately become the rum dumpster of tiki drinks. Anything remotely tiki-like is called a Mai Tai. Here is the original recipe for the Mai Tai created in 1944 by Victor Bergeron at his Trader Vic’s bar in Oakland, California. The Mai Tai predates the Tiki craze of the 1950 and 60s and is viewed as the quintessential tiki cocktail. The book describes how Victor Bergeron created the drink and how it got its name. The Mai Tai got its’ name when Victor gave the first two he made to two Tahitian friends of his. One of them exclaimed, “Mai Tai-Roa Ae” which translates to “Out of this world-the best.” Thus the cocktail earned its name, the Mai Tai. Contrary to popular belief, the Mai Tai is not Hawaiian or Polynesian. The cocktail was created in 1944 by Victor Bergeron in Oakland, California, at his Polynesian-themed bar, Trader Vic’s Bar. The Tiki drink craze originated in California immediately after the repeal of prohibition. Both Victor Bergeron and Donn Beach are credited with creating the first tiki-themed bars. In 1933 Donn opened Donn the Beachcomber in Hollywood, and in 1934 Vic opened Trader Vic’s Bar in the Bay Area, and still to this day, almost every famous Tiki cocktail was one of their creations.

What Does The Mai Tai Taste Like?

The Mai Tai doesn’t taste like most people think it does because they have not had a real one made with good ingredients. Most are just overly artificially sweet drinks made with pre-made Mai Tai mixers. While there are better Mai Tai mixers, even the best don’t compare to one made with natural ingredients. So what should a good Mai Tai taste like? A good Mai Tai should have a slight molasses taste with solid almond, cherry, orange, and citrus notes. Most mixers and orgeat syrups taste like almonds and the flavor most of these syrups miss is the cherry flavor. This leads to why orgeat is the essential ingredient in the mai tai and why there is no substitute for good orgeat.

The Most Important Ingredient.

The essential ingredient in the Mai Tai is the orgeat syrup. The orange liqueur is also necessary, but the orgeat you use will make or break this drink. So what is orgeat, and what does a good orgeat taste like? The classic 1800s French orgeat is a bitter almond syrup. Bitter almonds taste very different from sweet almonds, which are what we typically eat. Almonds are part of the Rosaceae (rose) family of plants, and all Rosaceae plant seeds contain varying levels of amygdalin which the body processes into cyanide. Bitter almonds are not sold in the US anymore because they produce around 1000x the level of cyanide as sweet almonds. You could eat sweet almonds all day and be fine, but ten bitter almonds will kill a grown man. That’s also why they say not to eat apple seeds since they are part of the same family. Amygdalin smells and tastes like cherries. If you are curious to smell and taste this exact flavor, go to the grocery store and buy some almond extract in the baking aisle. Almond baking extracts are made from bitter almonds with the amygdalin neutralized. Orgeat should not taste like sweet almond milk; Orgeat should taste like almonds and cherries. And this is what 90% of orgeat syrup and Mai Tai mixers get wrong. They taste like almonds. If you want to know what made the Mai Tai famous and taste the original, then do some research and buy a bottle of top-shelf orgeat. These sold in stores have the cyanide neutralized and still taste great. I recommend just spending the money and buying a good one. I’ve tried making my own with an old 1800s barley water orgeat syrup recipe I found and used bitter almond extract instead of natural bitter almonds. It tasted spot on in the end, but it cost 2x as much as buying it, took a whole day to make, was a lot of work, and was not much better than a 9 oz bottle I could have bought for 13 bucks. Sure, that’s a steep price for 9 oz, but your only other option is a gross drink. Sadly there is no substitute for a good orgeat.

Recipe Resources

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Download The Official Vintage American Cocktails App

Discover what classic cocktails you can make right now with the ingredients you have. Check out the Vintage American Cocktail app.

Mai Tai

5 from 1 vote Only logged in users can rate recipes
Course: DrinksCuisine: American
Servings

1

servings
Calories

227

kcal
ABV

24%

Total time

3

minutes

Learn how to make the original Mai Tai cocktail.

Ingredients

  • 1 oz Lime Juice

  • 1 tsp Simple Syrup

  • 1/2 oz Orgeat

  • 1/2 oz Orange Liqueur

  • 1 oz Gold Rum

  • 1 oz Black Rum

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients in the shaker and add ice to the shaker.
  • Shake the ingredients till the shaker is ice cold and develops a frost.
  • Strain into glass with ice and garnish with a bouquet of mint leaves.

Notes

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Make Cocktails Like A Pro

If you have ever struggled with a recipe or wonder why yours are not turning out like they do at the bar then check out my simple step-by-step videos. I will walk you through how to expertly build each drink so you get consistently great results.

  • Free and simple step by step videos.
  • Tips and tricks from years of experience.
  • Historically accurate and balanced recipes.