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Orgeat syrup is a sweet syrup made from almonds, sugar and rose water/orange-flower water. It was, however, originally made with a barley-almond blend. It has a pronounced almond taste and is used to flavor many cocktails, perhaps the most famous of which is the Mai Tai.

The word "orgeat," (OHR-ZHAT) is derived from the Latin hordeata "made with barley." The Spanish word horchata has the same origin, though the two drinks now have very little in common.

In Suriname there is a drink called orgeade which is made as a syrup, of sugar and almonds.

In Greece, on the island Nisyros they also have such a drink called soumada.

[Foods from The Hundred Days |]

"In the beginning there was the word, and the word was hordeum, the Latin root of horchata—meaning "barley." Yet of barley there is neither trace nor mention in modern Horchata recipes. How haps this? By a long and circuitous route, and through several layers of French etymology. From hordeum to orge (barley), through orge mondé (hulled barley, or "french barligh," as Lady Elinor Fettiplace called it in 1604), to orgemonde, a thick barley-water drink flavored, in the late 1500s, with ground almonds. Orgemonde in turn was shortened to orgeade or orgeat, under which name it traveled far and wide during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In Italy it resolved itself into orzata (barley-water). In Spain it became horchata; and, as any Spanish-English dictionary will tell you, today the English word for horchata is still—orgeat."

Historical References

"The Lady's Own Cookery Book...", By Charlotte Campbell Bury, 1844

"Two quarts of new milk, one ounce of sweet almonds and eighteen bitter, a large piece of cinnamon, and fine sugar to taste. Boil these a quarter of an hour, and then strain. THe almonds must be blanched, and then pounded fine with orange-flower water"

Links of Interest

- * An Easy Orgeat Syrup Recipe (with photos)

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