3000 readers a day
Mangiamaccheroni FXcuisine.com  

Homemade Orgeat Syrup (French Barley Water)

 Home >> Recipes
Keywords ¦
Feedback47 comments - leave yours!

Text-only version printed fromhttp://FXcuisine.com/default.asp?Display=26
Orgeat syrup is a gorgeous almond elmulsion that will turn any water into a fragrant milky refreshing beverage.

I am a fiend for orgeat syrup. There is just something magic in seeing these little drop of sweet syrup turn a whole bottle of Evian into an opalescent mist. It tastes like a milky relative of amaretto but has no alcohol. I never knew how orgeat syrup was made until I saw a recipe in the Larousse des Desserts, which is illustrated step-by-step on this page.

Modern orgeat syrup is made from almonds, but originally it was literally barley water, a decoction of raw barley sweetened with sugar. At some point people started adding bitter almonds for flavor and then realized that the barley itself, for all its virtues, does not bring much by way of flavor and it is dropped altogether in modern recipes.

Replacing barley with almonds in orgeat syrup has a well-established tradition. Sure, some will argue this is no longer true barley water. But it sure tastes good. I found an amusing discussion of this culinary problem in Diderot's monumental Encyclopédie (under 'Orgeat' in Volume 11 'N - Parkinsone' published in December 1765). Orge is French for barley.

ORGEAT, SYRUP OF. Orgeat syrup is called like this because pharmacopeas require a barley decoction rather than plain water. But barley ruins its taste without adding any virtues. So all master apothecaries, who know how to evaluate theoretical rules according to their own practical experiences, steer clear of using barley decoction when making orgeat syrup; & it is not easy to decide wether this infidelity deserves more contempt when found at the minister's than when charlatanism or routine is found at the law-maker's.

This recipe is modern and focuses on taste. Orgeat syrup is not a medicine although I would enjoy being sick much more if medicines tasted like this.

300gr blanched whole almonds
100gr white almond powder
2 liters mineral water
About 3kg white sugar
Rose water to taste
Orange flower water
Bitter almond extract


Roughly chop the whole almonds.


Pour 400gr of caster sugar in a large pot.


Add the chopped almonds and the ground almonds.


Add 2 liters/quarts mineral water and bring to a boil.


Leave to rest for 12 hours.

Strain through a cheesecloth.


Prepare a large bowl, the rest of the sugar and a kitchen scale. Heat syrup bottles by pouring boiling water into them. Here I used empt y store-bought syrup bottles - you can still see the labels!


Weight the strained liquid.


Add 700gr caster sugar for every 500gr of strained liquid. Put the pot on a low flame and heat carefully to dissolve sugar.


If you are not careful and let the syrup boil, all sorts of evils will fall upon you. First the pot will spill over a sticky almond-sugar decoction like it did above. Then the sugar will burn and your syrup might not dissolve anymore, stuck forever in Baumé hell between syrup and caramel. Please be careful. Some authors (see below) recommend not heating more than 40C°.


Leave to cool before adding the extra flavorings if you like them. A few drops of bitter almond extract, rose water and orange water. If you add while the syrup is hot, their flavor might evaporate.



Please note that I my syrup is golden in color although when dissolved in water its turns milky. I think the golden color comes from my using unblanched almond powder rather than white powder.

Real orgeat syrup will split after a few days in a thick, solid white layer of almond powder on top and syrup below. This is normal and happens with quality bought orgeat syrup such as the one I used to buy from Hédiard in Paris. All you need is insert a skewer in the bottle to break the top layer a bit, close and shake. This is really part of the fun in this product and a hallmark of quality orgeat syrup.

If you are interested about why this happens read an authoritative discussion in the 1857 Traité de pharmacie théorique et pratique v. 2 By Eugene Soubeiran.



  • #1
  • Comment by Maria
Wonderful recipe, and I hope to try it sometime. Meanwhile, I've been
rejoicing in my new-won prize: a bottle of Routin 1883 Orgeat, found
after a lengthy internet search, and bought off the loading dock of a
coffeehouse wholesaler in Minneapolis.I wanted it to make a
Mai-Tai, a cocktail I hadn't had in years, and which I wouldn't trust
in most bars. I especially wanted to avoid high fructose corn syrup.I
made this recipe the other night, and can't stop thinking about it...
sort of dangerous with an acloholic beverage. Have you used your orgeat
in a tropical cocktail? (Another famous one is the Japanese, with
brandy and orgeat, and sometimes lime juice-- also good.) Perhaps you'd
be willing to experiment sometime, and post the results (assuming you
could still type).Mai Tai2 oz. Appleton Estate Reserve1 oz. Freshly squeezed lime juice1/2 oz. Orange curacao3/4oz. Orgeat (almond) syrupShake with ice, then strain into a glass with further ice. This
is traditionally garnished with a sprig of mint, which I was missing
the other night, yet it was all I could do to prevent myself from
making a whole jug of Mai-Tais and drinking myself into oblivion.
  • #2
  • Comment by Flea
I love a cocktail which is called 'Twisted Sherbert' by a local Leeds, UK, cocktail bar, which containsStoli Raspberry, Frangelico, Lime Juice and OrgeatIn what proportions i don't know but it is deliciously sharp and tastes like sherbert, they also float two raspberries in it. You should try it.
  • #3
  • Answered by fx
Amazing cocktails! I thought that orgeat was mainly for kids and yet apparently outside France it's a component of cocktails. I don't drink much apart from some wine but will try one of these soon. Thanks!
  • #4
  • Comment by john
Hello, I'm not much of a cook.  I would really like to make this syrup but i have a few questions.  First off why do you heat the syrup bottles?  Secondly, how much rose/orange water... just a few drops?   Thirdly how much orgeat does this yield and can you reduce the recipe? Thanks so much!
  • #5
  • Comment by The Mermaid
Thank you so much for the real orgeat syrup recipe and beautiful step-by-step photographs.  Can't wait to try it so we can enjoy a real Mai Tai.  Love the post from Maria and her experience.  What delight.
  • #6
  • Comment by Julie
Great recipe!!! I loved the photos and the step by step instructions.I'm going to make this real soon. Thanks for sharing this.
  • #7
  • Comment by Paul
Most interesting page, thank you.  Re. orgeat -- it is really 700 gms of sugar for each 500 gms of liquid?  It seems like an enormous amount of sugar.
  • #8
  • Comment by Gina
Thank you for this recipe. I have wanted to find a good home-made so I can make a genuine Mauresque cocktail for a couple of Parisien friends with whom I have a mildly competitive food-amazement relationship whenver we meet! Promises to win me the laurels this year.
  • #9
  • Answered by fx
Make sure to leave a little ground almond in the bottles so they will see you really made it from scratch! Good luck with the laurels then!
  • #10
  • Answered by fx
Yes the proportions are correct, the water absorbs a great deal of sugar.
  • #11
  • Comment by DNB
Thank you!  I have fond memories of a frozen (or possibly just very cold) drink served on the beaches in Italian fishing villages that translated literally to "barley water".  This must be it!  I've since forgotten what the Italian word was and haven't been able to translate it back to attempt making the drink I loved as a kid.
  • #12
  • Answered by fx
Thanks, it might be they made almond milk like in Sicily, have a look at my article about Sicilian almond sorbet!
  • #13
  • Comment by sally
I want to try this recipe but need the grams converted into ounces or cups.  Can you provide me this information?  Thank you!!
  • #14
  • Answered by fx
Sally to convert grams to ounces just type "Grams to ounces" in Google and you'll get a million online converters. Very easy!
  • #15
  • Comment by DEEPAK
Thanx for this great recipe the only question is for how long we can store it and why do we need to heat the syrup bottle.thanx once agin for how beautifully you have displayed everything like pictures.
  • #16
  • Answered by fx
Deepak, syrup is a nice and cosy place for lots of microorganism that are better left out of a bottle. If you heat the bottle before filling it with syrup, you kill most of these microscopic bugs. Then it can store for a very long time or only for a couple days depending on how well you did the job. Good luck!
  • #17
  • Comment by Lloyd
Could you please clarify something about your recipe. At the beginning you list the ingredients; ...white almond powder, but later you "add the chopped almonds and the ground almonds". The almond powder is not mentioned. Did you start with whole almonds, roughly chopped 300g and use a processor or the like to make 100g almond powder. Then, add both at the same time?
  • #18
  • Answered by fx
Lloyd I started from whole almonds which I chopped and ground. You do not need to have both but I'd avoid bought almond powder, the taste is already partly gone.
  • #19
  • Comment by ND
Hi fx, thanks for the fantastic article! I've decided to make a batch of this, and I have one fairly important question: is it okay to use a drop of bitter almond oil? In my quest for the perfect Mai Tai, I came across your recipe and have subsequently ordered a tiny bottle of this substance (which I struggled for quite some time to locate), which the seller claims is "pure, uncut oil of bitter almonds". Now there's the cyanide issue—I don't want to go the same way as Goering… and I also noticed in your Pistachio Paste recipe that you're using what appears to be "Dr Oetker's Bittermandel Aroma", which is a synthetic essence, as far as I now. Is it safe to use the real deal?

-Thanks again, ND
  • #20
  • Answered by fx
ND, yes you go ahead with the almond oil, but only a couple drops will do. If they sold it to you as an edible product you'd need to drink a couple pints to go the way of Goering. If this is your plan you can save your heirs some money by eating a pound of salt, works just fine I'm told.
  • #21
  • Comment by Robert
I just want to say that the presentation and layout of this recipe is fantastic! I will most definitely be looking at some of the other recipes as I have been sold. I lived in Montpellier France for several months, and, in my travels around the area, I came across a drink that sounds very similar to this. I hope this is it because I thought it was great. I was just looking for a recipe for this because it is a necessary ingredient in a drink called the "high-heeled sunday." It is on the stiletto vodka website, but after reading this, I may have inadvertently found the drink I enjoyed in France. Thank you for your site!
  • #22
  • Answered by fx
Robert, thanks for visiting! If the drink you had in Montpellier was a milky almond-flavored syrup, then that's most likely the same - Orgeat Syrup.
  • #23
  • Comment by Ryk
I found your recipe while looking up the pronunciation of "orgeat." I love it. I make my own liqueurs and I'll now be making my own orgeat for use in other cocktails! Thanks!
  • #24
  • Answered by fx
Ryk, I wish you fun with the homemade orgeat syrup!
fx, thanks so much for the site and this great writeup of instructions for making orgeat syrup.

It helped me greatly to correct some problems with the methods I was using.

My favorite part, though, is that it appears that you are doing this in your pajamas!  Makes me chuckle.
  • #26
  • Answered by fx
Erik, indeed I often cook in my pajamas, but they look so good sometimes I'd wish I could go to the office in them!
  • #27
  • Comment by Jari
I am disgusted.

Just last week I got an old recipe to make yeast: 500 g boiled, mashed potatoes, 2 TSB sugar, 2 dl luke warm water. 1 tsp yeast. Mix potatoes and sugar, water and mix until cool. Dissolve the yeast and mix. Let ferment in warm place for 24 hours and your yeast is ready. Have not tried it yet.

Yesterday I read a book where the "hero" has four Mai Tais and searched for the recipe but did not know the orgeat. Searched for that and here I am, another silly thing to prepare.

I loved the way you showed what to do and what can go "tits up" and why something can be done and must not be done. Excellent job. Next week-end it is yeast and orgeat making!
  • #28
  • Answered by fx
Jari, your recipe sounds like convict moonshine, I'd hesitate before drinking that. Good luck if you try the homemade orgeat though!
  • #29
  • Comment by Dimitrios
Excellent recipe and easy to make. I made yesterday a couple of bottles and the syrup is way superior to commercial alternatives. I have a question which I did not come across in previous postings: For how long will the syrup preserve in the bottles? And does it need fridge storage?
Thank you and well done for the excellent site.
  • #30
  • Answered by fx
Dimitrios, if you manage to sterilize the bottles and pour the syrup into the bottles while still hot and close immediately, then they just might store for months in a cupboard. But otherwise better store them in the fridge. Don't worry if the syrup makes two layers with a hard one on top, it's normal.
  • #31
  • Comment by Jules Witt
Great recipe!!  I am going to try it but I don't know if I can get bitter almond extract here in New Zealand.
Does it matter if the almonds are roasted and have the skins on?
Thanks, Jim.
  • FX's answer→ Jules you definitely need to remove the skins or they'll taint the syrup. Roasting might bring out the flavors!

what you call orgeat,we call MAAZ THADAL.recipe or formulation is somewhat similar.we manufacture and distribute MAAZ THADAL all over pakistan.pretty good site you have.
Great photos! Wow!

I've seen cookbooks that talk about bringing sugar solutions up to between 230-235 degrees F to a 'syrup stage', sounds like the solution becomes thicker, I wonder if it results in any other changes or benefits?
  • #35
  • Comment by Kate
Thank you! I know what I'm giving my mother for Christmas this year :) She's the daughter of a chef and appreciates all foods of superior flavour, so this looks like a winning deal for me. Thanks!
  • #36
  • Comment by Jennifer
Hi! I love orgeat and wondered if you knew some of the cultural history behind it. Is there a particular region in France which is known for its orgeat? And does anyone still make it from actual almonds (other than home enthusiasts)?
Thank you!
  • FX's answer→ I think orgeat syrup comes from Provence, there are still some companies that make it using actual almonds but probably ground and not whole almonds. Others I suspect use almond extract to boost the flavor.

  • #38
  • Comment by mojoe
i've made this now three times and each time, varying on the final additions, has come out better and better! awesome writeup and research!
my questions is to do with the science, or at least whether or not one could use any type of oil-rich treenut, such as hazelnuts/filberts.
i've tried it with them, using (pre-) toasted and blanched filberts. I decided to re-do adding sugar at the 1st step to double the amount. That was because it didn't seem like it set correctly after 12hours like the way the almond did, which then left me with a nice thin hazelnut syrup as I'd hoped/expected. i dissolved the second sugar (keeping to the recipe) however i don't know if I heated too much or what but the sugar re-crystallized once it cooled into a big chunky mass. would adding an acid like tartar cream or lemon juice help in that, is it too late to add it? is there anything i can do with this hazelnut-sugar clump?
thanks again your fine work, chris
  • #39
  • Comment by Barley Water
Healthy components of barley water has proved good for gastric inflammations and expelling the toxins from the body. Barley water also provides good treatment for kidney problems and helps to restore the lost appetite.
  • FX's answer→ I love barley water.

  • #41
  • Comment by Carolyn Kolb
Was happy to find your recipe.
In New Orleans, orgeat syrup is what it used to make a true Nectar Ice Cream Soda.
the local syrup is colored pink.

Pour a little syrup in bottom of tall glass, add cold milk, add scoop (or 2) good vanilla ice cream, fill glass with soda water.
Very best ice cream soda ever!!!
I've read many Regency and period works that talk about both orgeat and barley water, and I'm fascinated to see that both are still made and perhaps making an appearance in the US. I might try orgeat, though being allergic to wheat I've never been too sure about barley. BTW,  is there anything else that tastes like orgeat out threr for comparison?
  • #43
  • Comment by Tomo
great recipe! very floral yet not sugary sweet but of course sweet enough! question though, what would the shelf life normally be for this batch? refrigeration, i'm assuming is best. what about an addition of a little alcohol to preserve longer? do you think that will throw off the balance? thanks!
  • FX's answer→ Usually the sugar content is enough to kill bacteria, the harder is to prevent people from drinking it too soon!

I am interested in orgeat as a "ladies" drink during the English Regency period (1811-1820) and I am wondering how much orgeat syrup you would put in water to make a refreshing, non-alcoholic drink.
  • FX's answer→ Well not much is needed but some people like it more sweet.

  • #47
  • Comment by J Gallant
Thank you for sharing this recipe. I made it this past week and I think it came out as intended. It has a syrupy texture and I definitely taste the natural almond flavor. I ended up with 6-7 cups. I think I would make about 1/3 of that if I were to do it again.

I did a little more research on making the syrup/almond milk and think there is no benefit to chopping some almonds rather than pureeing all of them. It seems other recipes recommend the pureeing to get as much flavor as possible from the almonds.

I took your warning to heart about not letting it boil and after 2 hours on the stove, and finding the liquid nowhere near caramelized, I put it in a very large pyrex glass bowl in 3 batches in the microwave on low power. It did boil at times but the mixture still caramelized just fine.

I think it would be must easier to start with a commercial almond milk and heat it with sugar to make the syrup without compromising the quality of the results. I would love to hear from someone who tried that.


Text-only version printed from http://FXcuisine.com/default.asp?Display=26 - visit the online version to see many gorgeous pictures of this recipe!
Sponsored links: DHTML Menu By Milonic JavaScript