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Improved macadamia orgeat limeade

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improved macadamia orgeat limeade garnished with catnip

Improved macadamia orgeat limeade is a seasonal Australian lime and macadamia twist on Jerry Thomas’ Orgeat Lemonade featuring macadamia orgeat syrup, fresh lime juice and macadamia and wattleseed liqueur. Orgeat Lemonade appears in the Temperance Drinks section of Thomas’ 1862 ­Bar-tender’s Guide and calls for orgeat syrup – an old fashioned type of almond cordial, in which almond milk is preserved with sugar, often flavoured with orange flower or rose water – here mixed with lemon juice, water and ice, garnished with berries in season. Improved macadamia orgeat limeade uses readily available in season limes rather than lemons and swaps out almond orgeat for a from scratch macadamia orgeat syrup and is improved with macadamia and wattleseed liqueur which adds rich nutty and chocolate notes. Improved macadamia orgeat limeade is a refreshing drink with sourness from lime and a rich and creamy, luscious texture from macadamias, complexity from macadamia wattleseed liqueur and a delicate floral flavour with orange flower and rose water used to flavour the orgeat. Improved macadamia orgeat limeade is a creamy white cocktail presented in a fancy footed cut glass vintage wine glass, served over crushed ice with a fresh raspberry and a sprig of mint or optional edible heirloom herb catnip. Orgeat is a versatile product being a key ingredient in many classic vintage and tiki or exotic cocktails such as the Japanese cocktail and Mai Tai. Making your own orgeat syrup allows you to add your own distinctive flavour and texture to drinks and cocktails.  Orgeat limeade can be prepared as a mocktail lemonade style drink with a refreshing sourness from lime and creamy texture with complex floral notes from the macadamia orgeat or as a creamy luxurious cocktail featuring macadamia and wattleseed liqueur.

What is Orgeat Lemonade?
Orgeat Lemonade is a Temperance Drink made from orgeat syrup, an old fashioned almond cordial made by preserving almond milk with sugar syrup often flavoured with orange flower or rose water. Martin Cate (2016: 3741) in Smuggler’s Cove writes:

“Originally from France, orgeat is an almond-milk sugar syrup with orange flower water and rose water, and adds a divine floral dimension and mouthfeel to exotic cocktails.”

In Orgeat Lemonade orgeat syrup is mixed with citrus juice, and in later recipes sugar, along with water and served with ice, decorated with berries and in later recipes served with straws (see Thomas 1862: 241-242; 1887: 1749). Jerry Thomas provides a recipe for Orgeat Lemonade in the Temperance Drinks section of his 1862 Bar-tender’s Guide (Thomas 1862: 241-242), which also includes his recipes for Lemonade (Fine for parties), Lemonade using raspberry or strawberry syrup and Orangeade (Thomas 1862: 239-241). The ingredients for Orgeat Lemonade in the 1862 Bar-tender’s Guide (1862: 241-242) and the later 1887 edition of the Bar-tender’s Guide (1887: 1749) include:

  • Orgeat syrup
  • Lemon juice
  • Sugar (in the 1887 edition – (Thomas 1887: 1749)
  • Water
  • Ice
  • Garnish: berries in season
  • Glassware: Large bar glass
  • Serve with straws (in the 1887 edition – (Thomas 1887: 1749)

How to make Orgeat Lemonade: Shake & strain
Orgeat Lemonade is made by adding all the ingredients to a mixing glass with ice, shaking and straining into a large bar glass with ice. Orgeat Lemonade becomes fancier and sweeter in a later edition of the recipe (see Thomas 1862: 241-242; 1887: 1749). In the 1862 edition of his Bar-tender’s Guide Thomas (1862: 242) writes of Orgeat Lemonade which calls for ‘1/2’ wineglass of orgeat syrup’ and ‘the juice of half a lemon’ to be added to a ‘large bar glass’:

“Fill the tumbler one-third full of ice, and balance with water. Shake well and ornament with berries in season.”

In the later 1887 edition of the Bar-tender’s Guide (Thomas 1887: 1749) the recipe has been made fancier with the addition of ‘1 table-spoonful of powdered white sugar’ and this edition also stipulates a more elaborate presentation:

“Shake well, ornament with berries in season, and serve with straws.”

Temperance Drinks: Lemonade ‘improved’ with sherry & egg white
I love the Temperance Drinks section of the Bar-tender’s Guide – it tells us so much about how drinks were thought about in terms of flavour and presentation. Alcohol was one ingredient but not the sole one – interestingly alcohol could be added in small amounts to improve flavour, in the same way perhaps that we use bitters to create flavour in what is considered a non-alcoholic lemon lime and bitters. Alcohol such as sherry finds its way into the Temperance Drinks section to improve Lemonade (Fine for parties), along with egg whites – these seemingly unlikely additions are delicious see my post on improved blood orangeade. I find great inspiration in the Temperance Drinks section for drinks that are low alcohol but packed with seasonal flavour – see my post on Improved strawberry shrub: port cocktail.

How is improved macadamia orgeat limeade different?
Improved macadamia orgeat limeade is an Australian lime and macadamia twist on Thomas’ (1862: 241-242; 1887: 1749) vintage Orgeat Lemonade where lemon is swapped out for in season limes and almonds are replaced with macadamia nuts for a creamy orgeat flavoured with rose and orange flower water, improved with macadamia and wattleseed liqueur. Improved macadamia orgeat limeade is an fancy lemonade style cocktail with a refreshing sourness and zest from fresh lime juice, a luxurious creamy mouthfeel from macadamia orgeat with a complex and delicate floral flavour of rose and orange flower and a rich nutty and chocolate flavour from the macadamia and wattleseed liqueur. Improved macadamia orgeat limeade is garnished with a fresh raspberry and sprig of mint or optional edible heirloom herb catnip (catnip is what I had in my garden). The raspberry highlights the floral notes of the orgeat while the green of the mint or catnip contrasts with the whiteness of the drink which is served over crushed ice in a vintage footed wine glass.

Homemade macadamia orgeat: The recipe I provide below for macadamia orgeat is informed by a process of trial and error and reading vintage and modern orgeat recipes. Orgeat is a syrup or paste made by preserving nut milk, usually almond milk, made with almonds and sometimes a smaller amount of ‘bitter almonds’ in vintage recipes, and apricot kernels in modern ones, with sugar. Orgeat is often flavoured with rose water or orange flower water. Almonds may be raw with skins on, blanched or toasted. Other nuts can also be used to make orgeat including pistachios – see my post on pistachio rose water orgeat.

Vintage orgeat recipes – Orgeat separates – Orgeat recipes originate in France (Cate 2016: 3741) and are old fashioned dating to the 18th Century according to Paul Senft (2017) In Honour of Orgeat. I have reviewed vintage recipes dating to the 1790’s see for example Robert Abbot (1790-91: 42, 45) The Housekeeper’s Valuable Present and the 1800’s see for example Sulpice Barrue (1836: 110) Domestic French Cookery and G.V. Frye (1884: 96) Frye’s practical candy maker. In the vintage recipes I reviewed there were two main forms of orgeat made – a solid form and a syrup. The solid form or paste is dried and then a small amount is diluted with water as needed for drinks (see for example Barrue 1836: 110). The syrup is stored in bottles to be diluted and used as needed and is an ingredient in lemonade and in cocktails. Orgeat syrup or cordial was used as an ingredient in Orgeat Lemonade by diluting and flavouring with lemon juice, and sometimes sugar, along with water and ice for a refreshing drink as in Jerry Thomas’ (1862: 241-242; also see 1887: 1749) Bar-tender’s Guide. For an example of a syrup based orgeat recipe see G.V. Frye (1884: 96) Frye’s practical candy maker where he describes the method for making orgeat syrup as involving ‘pound[ing]’ almonds to a ‘smooth paste’ that is then diluted with water and strained – the resulting almond milk has sugar and orange flower water added to make orgeat syrup. Frye (1884: 96) details that it is recommended to ‘shake [orgeat syrup] often to keep the milk from separating from the Sugar’.

Experiment 1: Roast & infuse method – I first attempted to make macadamia orgeat in the same way that I had made fresh pistachio orgeat – using a roast and infuse method. In my experiments the roast and infuse method was not good for macadamia nuts as they have a rich fat content – it produced a delicious product that was more akin to a caramelised nut butter than an orgeat (it was all used up in cocktails but needed to be diluted and double strained). I did further research with Dave Arnold’s (2014) Liquid Intelligence and found that creating nut milk with hot water offered a creamier milk that could easily be strained and then have sugar, stabiliser and flavours added.

Experiment 2: ‘Any nut orgeat’ – Nut milk method – The nut milk method I have used to make macadamia orgeat is that outlined by Dave Arnold (2014: 842) in his amazing book Liquid Intelligence in which he provides a formula for ‘Any nut orgeat’. Arnold (2014: 842) describes how it is possible to use any nuts you have locally to hand to create your own unique orgeat syrup. The method outlined by Arnold (2014) is different than the roasting and infusing method, instead nut milk is made, using any nuts and very hot water and then sugar is added, the amount depending on the yield of the milk made with the resulting syrup stabilised with xanthan gum and gum Arabic.

I have adapted Arnold’s (2014: 842) ‘any nut orgeat’ formula appearing in Liquid Intelligence for small batch macadamia orgeat suitable for home bars. The pairing of Australian macadamia nuts with rose water and orange flower water and use of plain caster sugar which is what I had to hand, and addition of a small amount of vodka as a preservative and flavour enhancer are my own contribution. The resulting orgeat is a small batch, enough for several drinks or cocktails and is a thick creamy syrup that does not tend to separate and will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Although I have followed the ‘any nut orgeat’ nut milk method outlined by Dave Arnold (2014: 842) I did not have access to gum Arabic – I found it hard to come by in these times when we stay at home – so I have left this ingredient out (I’d love to try another batch and add this in to see the difference it would make). Arnold (2014) does not include orange flower water and rose water however, these are often added to orgeat especially for exotic cocktails (Cate 2016: 5486). Arnold (2014) also does not include alcohol but many orgeat recipes add a small amount of vodka or rum as a preservative (Cate 2016: 5486). Small amounts of alcohol used in this way can act as a preservative and enhance flavors, such as in ice cream and syrup making – see my post on ginger beer spiders for more on this.

I am incredibly grateful for Arnold’s (2014) insightful discussion of the science involved in making orgeat syrup where fats, sugars and liquid are combined. Arnold’s (2014) use of the hot water method to make nut milk and use of xanthan gum to stabilise the syrup and stop it separating are so useful, as described in the vintage recipes orgeat has a tendency to separate. I also love Martin Cate’s (2016: 3745) suggestion in Smuggler’s Cove that experimenting with ingredients and flavours for orgeat such as types of almonds, orange flower water and rose water are worthwhile, he writes:

“All of these decisions create interesting and unique orgeats, and I encourage you to find the right orgeat for you.”

Honey syrup – If you decide to make orgeat limeade as a mocktail you can replace the macadamia and wattleseed liqueur with 1:1 Honey syrup or you can leave out the sweetener altogether as per the 1862 recipe, sugar is only added in the 1887 version.

Fresh in season lime juice – Limes are in season now and more readily available than lemons – limes are amazing right now – beautifully refreshing and very juicy with an amazing deep green colour.

Soda water – I opted to use soda water to top this drink. You could use water instead as per the original recipe if you do not have soda water.

Improving macadamia orgeat limeade: Macadamia and wattleseed liqueur, Mac. – Macadamia orgeat limeade can readily be improved by the addition of macadamia and wattleseed liqueur or Mac. – this has an amazing nutty and chocolatey flavour that for me has associations with both a Frangelico and a good crème de cacao. Mac. pairs well with fresh lime and the creaminess of the macadamia orgeat flavoured with delicate rose water and orange flower water add a floral complexity.

How to make improved macadamia orgeat limeade: Shake & Strain
Improved macadamia orgeat limeade is made by adding all the ingredients to a shaker tin with ice, sealing and shaking and straining into a prepared fancy footed wine glass with crushed ice. I like to place the glass in the freezer before preparing the drink, so it is very cold when adding the crushed ice. You can make your own crushed ice at home by adding ice cubes to a clean tea towel and banging with a rolling pin – to add them to your glass use an ice spoon or julep spoon to scoop them up. Adding a small cap of crushed ice after pouring offers a good way to hold your garnish in place on top of the drink.

Tips for substitutions for improved macadamia orgeat limeade – It is my hope that you can make your own local unique variations on this improved macadamia orgeat limeade recipe because it includes a discussion of the vintage Orgeat Lemonade recipe and the adapted small batch macadamia nut milk orgeat recipe based on Arnold’s (2014) ‘any nut orgeat’. Here are some tips for substitutions and inspiration for your own experimentation:

  • Tip – try different nuts to make orgeat: you can use nuts such as pistachios, hazelnuts, almonds, pecans
  • Tip – try other types of citrus or a shrub syrup as a souring agent: you can use lemon, grapefruit or orange or a vinegar based shrub syrup to sour the drink such as a strawberry, grape or rhubarb shrub syrup
  • Tip – try other liqueurs, sherry or port to improve your lemonade: Pair an appropriate liqueur or a sherry for example with blood oranges or a port with strawberries to improve your lemonade to match your orgeat and citrus choice

Styling improved macadamia orgeat limeade: Fancy white creamy cocktail
The original Jerry Thomas Orgeat Lemonade recipe calls for a large bar glass with ice – the presentation for the improved macadamia orgeat limeade is fancier and uses crushed ice to create an exotic feeling. For improved macadamia orgeat limeade I used a sprig of optional fresh edible heirloom catnip herb as a garnish or you could use mint or lemon balm to highlight the colour green and to tie in with the lime flavour of the drink. I also used fresh raspberries as per the original Jerry Thomas 1862 recipe (Thomas 1862: 241-242). The green and red of the garnish sets off a great contrast with the creamy white of the improved macadamia orgeat limeade. Straws are called for in the later 1887 version of the recipe (Thomas 1887: 1749) and are useful because of the crushed ice – I like to use a simple reusable metal straw. Macadamia orgeat limeade is a versatile drink that can be served straight up for a refreshing lemonade style drink or improved with the addition of macadamia and wattleseed liqueur for a delicious creamy cocktail.

Improved macadamia orgeat limeade

Print Recipe
Serves: 1 small batch macadamia orgeat; 1 improved macadamia orgeat limeade cocktail Cooking Time: Macadamia orgeat: 20 minutes, Improved macadamia orgeat limeade cocktail: 10 minutes


  • Macadamia orgeat: 100gms macadamia nuts
  • 300mls hot water
  • 200gms caster sugar (use 200gms if your nut milk yield is 200mls, adjust for sweetness according to yield)
  • ½ teaspoon rose water
  • ½ teaspoon orange flower water
  • 15mls vodka (optional)
  • Pinch Xanthan gum (.1gms)
  • Honey syrup: equal parts honey and warm water (optional for use in mocktail)
  • Improved macadamia orgeat limeade cocktail: ½ shot fresh lime juice
  • 1 shot macadamia orgeat
  • 1 bar spoon 1:1 honey syrup (optional for use in mocktail)
  • 1 shot macadamia and wattleseed liqueur
  • Crushed ice to serve, ice cubes to shake
  • Soda water to top
  • Glassware: vintage footed wine glass
  • Garnish: mint or edible heirloom herb catnip (optional), raspberries, metal straw



Macadamia orgeat: Add macadamias and hot water to a blender or food processer


Take care as the hot water may cause the seal to expand – I wrapped my mini-blender in a tea towel to catch any spills before processing – blend until a smooth milk is achieved


Strain the milk through a cheese cloth lined metal strainer (reserve the nut pulp for another use – such as adding to smoothies or cookies)


Measure the yield of the macadamia milk – my macadamia milk yield was 200ml


Add 200gm sugar and blend (adjust the amount of sugar according to your nut milk yield)


Add xanthan and blend


Add rose water and orange flower water and vodka and stir to combine


Decant into a clean glass jar and store in the fridge


Honey syrup (optional for mocktail): Add equal parts honey and warm water, stir to combine, store excess syrup in a clean glass jar in the fridge


Improved macadamia orgeat limeade cocktail: Prepare glass by placing in freezer for 10 minutes prior to making your drink


Add crushed ice to your cold glass, you can make crushed ice at home by adding ice cubes to a clean tea towel and crushing with a rolling pin, use an ice or julep spoon to add to drinks


Add freshly squeezed lime juice, macadamia orgeat and optional honey syrup for mocktails or macadamia and wattleseed liqueur to a shaking tin with ice


Seal the tin and shake for 30 seconds


Strain into prepared glass


Top with soda water


Add a small cap of crushed ice to hold your garnish


Garnish with a mint sprig or optional edible heirloom herb catnip and fresh raspberries and serve with a metal straw


Vintage orgeat recipes & history

Robert Abbot (1790-91). The Housekeeper’s Valuable Present. Printed for the author and sold by C. Cooke: London.

Sulpice Barrue translated by Miss Leslie (1836). Domestic French Cookery. Carey & Hart: Philadelphia.

G.V. Frye (1884). Frye's practical candy maker. E.J. Decker: Chicago.

Paul Senft (2017). In honour of orgeat. In The alcohol professor.

Bar-tending manuals

Dave Arnold (2014). Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail. W.W. Norton & Company: New York & London.

Martin Cate with Rebecca Cate (2016). Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic cocktails, rum, and the cult of Tiki. Ten Speed Press: New York.

Jerry Thomas (1862, 2018 reprint). The Bar-tender’s Guide: Bon-vivant’s companion. Dick & Fitzgerald: New York, reprint by Thomas Majhen.

Jerry Thomas (1887, 2016 reprint). Jerry Thomas’ Bar-tender’s Guide: How to mix all kinds of plain and fancy drinks. Dick & Fitzgerald: New York, reprint by Dover Publications: New York.

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