There were worried grumblings in some online communities for the past few weeks when it seemed like every product from Orgeat Works Ltd. was not available for sale. Orgeat Works is the Brooklyn-based producer of several cocktail syrups including our all-time favorite: Latitude 29 Orgeat.
Thankfully, there was an update today on Facebook: “Just letting everyone know OWL syrups are back in stock. Took a pause to restock and catch up on fulfillment after relocating Orgeat Works here in Brooklyn. Let the Mai Tais flow!” Our long national nightmare is over!
Latitude 29 Orgeat was developed in conjunction with Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, the proprietor of the Latitude 29 Restaurant and Bar in New Orleans, and we think this clear and floral syrup is the best. The mild almond flavor doesn’t feature any marzipan aftertaste like you get with some orgeats and is stable in the fridge for months.
We also like and recommend Orgeat Works T’Orgeat Toasted Almond Syrup if you’re looking for something both darker and bolder. Both are available now and the company is here to stay – so if something is on backorder do know that it will be available soon. Free shipping on orders of $85 or more.
The highlight of my lunch at Hula Hoops was the Buz-Tai, a Mai Tai variant developed by local raconteur Buz Deadwax. This boozy cocktail has developed a cult following due to the name, the potent nature of the drink, and Buz’s reputation as a cocktail connoisseur.
I’m not sure that Hula Hoops is making it exactly to the original specs, notably omitting the mint called for as a garnish, but also using the 151 float to served flaming. I can’t say that Hula Hoops is doing it wrong because any cocktail served flaming is a fan favorite.
I noticed that Hula Hoops prepares this with Real McCoy 5 and 3 from Barbados, which to me are upgrades from the original light and Spanish style rums called for. As described by Buz in his original recipe, the 151 rum float will eventually topple and “recharge” the cocktail. I do enjoy the new flavor combination that comes when the burnt sugar flavors of this style of Demerara rum is incorporated into the cocktail when you’re about halfway done.
Hula Hoops uses Small Hand Foods Orgeat, which regular readers will know is not my favorite. But when used in combination with the other ingredients I didn’t get any of the flavors I usually associate with this orgeat, and in fact the cocktail’s balanced flavors of sour, sweet, and spice completely worked for me.
Shockingly, I liked this more than the Mai Tai at Smuggler’s Cove the week before and even better than the Ultimate Mai Tai at Tiki Tom’s. It was just that good, at least on this day at that time. We thank bartender Maria for making an awesome Buz Tai. Check it out next time you’re at Hula Hoops.
Buz-Tai by Buz Deadwax
¾ oz Fresh Lime Juice
1 oz High-quality Orgeat
¼ oz to ⅓ oz Allspice Dram (to taste)
1 oz Dry Curaçao
1 oz Blended Jamaican Rum (Appleton Signature)
1 oz Light rum
1 oz Aged Column Still Rum (“Spanish style”)
Shake with crushed ice and pour into double-rocks glass. Garnish with mint sprig.
Pour ½ oz 151 Demerara Rum into spent lime shell and place on top of the cocktail.
Mrs. Mai Tai hosted her monthly Book Club with friends and asked me to make cocktails for the group. This was the menu I came up with, intended to present some different kinds of flavors than are usually seen on mainstream cocktail menus.
- The Pampanito: a Smuggler’s Cove recipe featuring Molasses Syrup
- Saturn: a Gin-based cocktail with exotic cocktail sweeteners
- Blue Hawaii: I included a little quarter ounce of Wray & Nephew Overproof to give this a little extra kick of flavor
- Tradewinds: a great combination of coconut plus Apricot Liqueur
The cocktail that blew everyone away was the Saturn, served up. Even the attendees who said they didn’t like Gin found this delightful. I made more of these than the other cocktails combined.
I can see why people build or acquire bars for their homes; trying to make this many drinks sink-side in the kitchen is kind of a pain. But at least the results came out great.
I ran across this recipe from cocktail developer extraordinaire Nathan Robinson and thought I’d try it. It didn’t hurt to use one of my favorite rums, the unaged Clairin from Saint Benevolence. This is a wonderful cocktail.
2 oz Haitian Clairin, unaged (Saint Benevolence)
¾ oz oz Orgeat
¾ oz oz Lime juice
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Recipe by Nathan Robinson, 2021
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a lime.
I still had more White Grapefruit Juice so I did a little riff that actually ended up tasting quite nice. This is definitely grapefruit-forward, but I think it pairs well with the gin and the hints of orange and the rich orgeat syrup. This leans tart, so if you like it sweeter I’d suggest bumping the Cointreau to ¾ oz.
London Dry Spin by Kevin Crossman
1 oz Fresh White Grapefruit Juice
¼ oz Fresh Orange Juice
¼ oz Orgeat
½ oz Cointreau
2 oz London Dry Gin (Beefeater)
Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass
The Orgeat used was homemade from Pearl’s Hideaway and is bit on the cloudy side compared to some commercial syrups such as Latitude 29. In this case, the cloudy white cocktail made this look a bit different from Daiquris and other cocktails served up. Liber & Co. orgeat would have similar cloudy results.
Speaking of Orgeat… I finally obtained a bottle of this and put it to the test. Giffard is a product of a brand who’s liqueurs I really love, especially their Blue Curacao and Banane du Brésil. So, I was really eager to try this.
A unique aspect to Giffard’s Orgeat is that it is somehow shelf-stable and doesn’t need to be refrigerated. Handy, since it is such a large bottle. Ingredients are sugar, water, and almond flavoring (including almond extract).
This tastes okay when sampled directly but when I made the Mai Tai there was a strange and unpleasant aftertaste. Perhaps your mileage will vary, but I’ll stick the Orgeat you have to store in the fridge.
That little half ounce of Orgeat can be more important in a Mai Tai than you might think, so it is always fun to try a new one and compare it to your favorite.
I was fortunate to procure a bottle of Pearl’s Hideaway Orgeat from local tikiphile Laura Murphy. This is homemade the right way with freshly made almond milk from real almonds, along with sugar, rum, orange blossom water, and rose water. The milky consistency is similar to craft brands Liber and Small Hands, but with far less settling to deal with. Just a quick shake is all that’s needed.
Pearl’s Orgeat is pretty good. There’s a nutty flavor that’s a plus for the Mai Tai. The Mai Tai I made was our standard ratio including ¼ oz of Demerara syrup, plus Ferrand Dry Curacao. Rums were an ounce each of Denizen Merchant’s Reserve and Plantation Xaymaca. Very good Mai Tai with Pearl’s.
Homemade Orgeat can be a great thing to pair with a specific Orange Liqueur or rum blend. I’m still partial to Latitude 29 but a different rum or Orange Liqueur might switch the results. Check out our Orgeat page for more recipes and home Orgeat tips.
Thanks for the Orgeat, Laura. Cheers!