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  • The Chopping Blog

Cocktails with the Most Aromatic Orgeat Syrup Ever

Posted by Shelley on Aug 25, 2021


This is a great story of chef meets mixologist. I was recently teaching a virtual Trip to Hawaii cooking class on a warm August Saturday night. I noticed that one of my students was drinking a delicious looking cocktail. I asked what he was drinking and he said a Mai Tai, in honor of the theme of the class. I asked him what recipe he used, and he mentioned Amaretto as one of the ingredients.

His mention of Amaretto reminded me it was the time of year to make my annual batch of Apricot-Noyaux. If you are familiar with Amaretto, you might be under the impression it is made with almonds, since it has a distinctly almond aroma. Modern day Amaretto is not made with almonds but rather Noyaux.

amarettoWhat is Noyaux? It's simply apricot pits soaked in brandy or vodka. I know it sounds crazy, but the pits of apricots or any stone fruit (plums, peaches, cherries) soaked in alcohol will infuse the spirit with aroma of almonds and vanilla, as well as many other floral notes. It is one of the most beautifully exotic things I have ever smelled. Amaretto makers switched to using Noyaux many years ago since it is more affordable and has a stronger almond aroma than almonds themselves. Amaretto makers combine Noyaux with countless other aromatics and sweeteners to make it an even more complex beverage.

Tiki CocktailsI hadn’t made a Mai Tai in forever, and I wasn’t aware Amaretto was an ingredient in Mai Tais so I did a little digging into traditional Mai Tai recipes. What I found was that the traditional ingredient used is actually Orgeat syrup, not Amaretto. I started doing a little research into Orgeat syrup and found that it is an almond syrup flavored with orange flower water. I then began looking into recipes for Orgeat syrup and found that they were all being made with almonds. Well, my mind went ding ding ding! Of course, being familiar with Noyaux, it struck me that making Orgeat syrup out of Noyaux would make a vastly better Orgeat syrup! In this blog, I’ll show you how to make Noyaux, turn that into Orgeat syrup and then give you a few fun cocktail recipes to make with it.

orgeat syrupUsually when you find recipes for Noyaux, they are pretty labor intensive. Most recipes indicate that you have to crack the pits and expose the kernel inside. The kernel inside is toasted and then soaked in brandy or vodka. There is much conversation about using the kernels since the kernels have trace amounts of cyanide in them. Over the years, I have experimented with simply using the whole pits and not going through the whole process of cracking the pit to gather the kernels. I find the Noyaux is just as good, incredibly easy to make and it poses little concern about cyanide poisoning by using the whole pit.



Noyaux on its own can be used as an aromatic in cocktails but it is fabulous in baked goods where almond or vanilla extract is called for. It is also spectacular in stone fruit jams, pies or crisps.

Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe

Yield: 2 to 4 cups

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Start to Finish: 1 month

apricots 21 cup stone fruit pits

2 to 4 cups of vodka or brandy

apricots and pitsStep 1: Dry Pits

You can go out and purchase apricots and remove the pits for this recipe. I usually make my Noyaux when I make apricot or peach jam. My favorite jam is apricot, and peach is my second favorite. But last year, I couldn't get apricots, so I made my Noyaux with peach pits. You can also just save all your stone fruit pits until you have at least a cup.

Pits on cooling rackI take my pits and place them on top of a sheet pan fitted with a cooling rack and dry them for a few days. If you are saving pits, it may take a little longer to gather all the pits you need but use the same approach. Just keep a sheet pan lined with a cooling rack in a cool dry place and add pits as you have them to the rack.

Step 2: Soak Pits

unaged noyauxPlace the dry pits in a glass jar and top with the brandy or vodka and let sit at least a month before you use it. It becomes even more intense as it sits and lasts for years, and there's no need to remove the pits.

The ratio for pits to alcohol isn’t really that important which is why I provided a range. If you want your Noyaux to be done quickly, use less alcohol to achieve the intensity faster.

If you are in no hurry, you can add additional alcohol so you have a larger yield. The other reason you may want to add more alcohol is because you can continue to toss pits in the jar as you have them. You may find yourself having difficulty throwing away stone fruits pits from now on so that you can add them to your Noyaux!

next to aged noyaux

Orgeat Syrup

Orgeat is an aromatic concoction used in many Tiki drinks. Once the Noyaux is made, the syrup can be made in matter of minutes but feel free to purchase Orgeat syrup to use in the cocktail recipes below.

Yield: 2 cups approximately

Start to Finish: 10 minutes


1 cup noyaux

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon orange flower water, optional

Orgeat ingredientsStep 1: Make Syrup

Combine Noyaux and sugar in a sauce pan. Stirring regularly, bring to a low boil just until sugar has dissolved.

Orgeat syrup boilingStep 2: Stir in Orange Flower Water

Let the syrup cool to room temperature and stir in orange flower water. Pour into a glass bottle with a lid and store in the refrigerator for up to six months.

Orange flower water

Classic Mai Tai

Mai TaiYield: 1 cocktail

Start to Finish: 10 minutes


1 ounce light rum

1/2 ounce Curacao, Triple Sec or Cointreau

1/2 ounce Orgeat syrup

1 ounce fresh squeezed orange juice

1/2 ounce lime juice



1 ounce dark rum

Drizzle of maraschino cherry juice

Orange slice

Maraschino cherry

Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain into a glass filled with ice. Float the dark rum on the top and drizzle the maraschino cherry juice down the side of the glass. The dark rum will float and cherry juice will drop to the bottom of the glass for a layered look. Garnish with a slice of orange and cherry.



SeaworthyThis is my take on the famous Holy Water cocktail at the Seaworthy bar in the Ace Hotel in New Orleans. 

Yield: 1 cocktail

Start to Finish: 10 minutes


1 oz dark rum

1 oz Midori

1/2 oz Orgeat

1/2 oz lime juice

1/2 oz pineapple juice

3 dashes angostura bitters



1/2 oz green chartreuse

Slice of lime

In a cocktail shaker, shake all ingredients with ice and pour into a chilled coupe glass. Float the chartreuse on the top and garnish with a slice of lime.


Japanese Cocktail

Japanese cocktailThis classic cocktail is a perfect transition drink, what I mean by this is that there is a time in many parts of the world where the seasons change from hot to cool. This is a perfect drink for those days when fall hasn’t quite arrived, yet a gin and tonic is just too cooling.

Yield: 1 cocktail

Start to Finish: 10 minutes


2 ounces brandy or cognac

1/2 oz Orgeat syrup

1 oz lemon juice

2 dashes bitters



Lemon zest

Bob cocktailIn a cocktail shaker, shake all ingredients with ice and pour into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with lemon zest.

I hope you enjoy these aromatic cocktails. I had a blast creating these recipes! My father-in-law was recently in town, and he happens to love rum so he helped with quality control testing so each one of these recipes is Bob certified. I hope to see you soon in one of our new hybrid cocktail classes. You can join in from the comfort of your home or join us in person, whatever you prefer!

See our class calendar

Yield: 2-4 cups


Prep time: 10 Mininactive time: 720 HourTotal time: 720 H & 10 M


  • 1 cup stone fruit pits
  • 2 to 4 cups of vodka or brandy


  1. Take the pits and place them on top of a sheet pan fitted with a cooling rack and dry them for a few days.
  2. Place the dry pits in a glass jar and top with the brandy or vodka and let sit at least a month before you use it. It becomes even more intense as it sits and lasts for years, and there's no need to removed the pits.

Topics: cocktails, cocktail, almond, mixology, noyaux, mixologist, amaretto, orgeat syrup

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