• Sustainable Bartender

Apricot Kernel Orgeat

Rather than buying bitter almonds, why not retrieve them from your leftover apricot pits?

Now I know what you might be thinking. Aren't Apricot Pits poisonous?

Well, the answer is...YES! but only if eaten in large quantities...

Believe it or not, Apricot kernels are used in many different dishes, from beverages like noyaux and amaretto liqueur, to foods like amaretto cookies and mahleb.

Wherever apricots are present in the world, different cultures have a recipe for their kernels either through food or drink.

However, because there are a lot of studies of their toxicity, there are some important guidelines that you MUST STRICTLY FOLLOW in order to avoid any slight but possible casualties.

  1. It's important to not overdo it, and

  2. it's important NOT to give them to children

Some packages state that you shouldn't have more than 3 kernels per day, but in reality, the danger zone is much higher than that.

Still, to keep it as safe as possible, I would go along with this quantity, and for the orgeat recipe below do not consume more than 90ml per day

Why Use Apricot Kernels?

The kernel found inside of the apricot pit is also known as a bitter almond which is closely related to the regular almonds you find in the supermarket.

The regular almonds you find in most supermarkets are also known as sweet almonds because of their sweeter taste compared to apricot kernels.

Besides being slightly bitter, bitter almonds share some similar yet completely different qualities to sweet almonds. Similarly, they still have a very present nutty flavor that almonds have, but with an even more intense taste of marzipan.

Keep in mind that because it does have this flavor, it will not taste completely the same as regular almond orgeat, but the consistency and mouthfeel will be strikingly similar, enabling it to be used as a substitute in cocktails that use regular orgeat.

When it comes to making this orgeat recipe, there are a couple of guidelines to follow.

  1. Toast them beforehand to neutralize as much amygdalin as possible. (this will greatly reduce the risk of consumption).

  2. Use MUCH fewer quantities than you would need in a normal batch of sweet almond orgeat. Besides, the flavor is more intense so you won't need to use nearly as many.

  3. Make a 2:1 ratio Rich Syrup rather than a 1:1 ratio. This will enhance the texture and flavor of the orgeat, meaning that you don't need to use as much in every drink.

  4. Use it sparingly in 15 - 20ml quantities per drink/cocktail.

In terms of sustainability, one of the best reasons why it's good to use bitter almonds instead of regular almonds is to lower the overconsumption of water needed to grow almonds.

The sweet almonds that we normally buy in the grocery store consume over 1 gallon per almond, making it one of the most water-sucking foods on the planet.

By pivoting to different yet similar tasting recipes, and introducing small amounts of bitter almonds carefully, we can reduce these numbers while delivering better flavor!

What Will You Need

  • A Nutcracker (if you are opening the pits to retrieve the kernel)

  • Apricot Pits

  • Blender or Food Processor

  • Cheesecloth, Coffee Filter, or Nut Milk Bag (for straining)

  • Sugar

  • Water

Process Part 1: Crack Open Pits

First, you're going to want to collect as many apricot pits as possible.

When the season is ready, collect a bunch to make jams, liqueurs, brandy, whatever...and save the pits in the fridge or freezer.

You won't need as many as you think, but it's always good to have a decent amount on hand.

Keep in mind that you can buy apricot kernels online already retrieved from the pit. If you buy them, you'll notice on the package the recommended amount you should eat.

Once you've collected your pits it's time to crack them open.

You can do so with a hammer, or with a nutcracker (a nutcracker is MUCH easier).

If they are too difficult to crack, dry them in an oven beforehand so that they turn more brittle and easier to open.

Crack them in your sink so that you don't make a mess in the house. The shells will shoot all over the place!

Once cracked you should find the kernel almost completely intact!

Part 2: Make Orgeat

Now that you have your kernels, you will:

  • Toast them for 10 - 15 minutes,

  • blend them with water,

  • strain the water out,

  • and combine the water with sugar.

The best way to make Apricot Pit Orgeat is to make it into a rich syrup, so a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water.

Making it into a rich syrup is better because:

1. It intensifies the marzipan flavor meaning that you don't need to add as much in every cocktail.

2. It gives it a longer shelf life (and with a splash of vodka or white rum will last even longer).

Before making Apricot Pit Orgeat, first decide how much you'll want to make.

For every 10ml of water, you'll want to add about 1 Apricot Pit.

In weight, it's roughly every 1 gram of kernel will want to be matched with 20g of water, depending on their sizes.

Play around with this ratio without straying away too much from it.

Once you have your desired amount, give them a good toast on a frying pan at high heat with nothing in it. Toast them until they get a slightly burnt look.10 to 15 minutes should do.

You'll want to combine your water and toasted apricot kernels in a blender and blend until finely crushed to the point that there are no more big pieces.

Strain the solids from the liquid using a nut milk bag, coffee filter, or cheesecloth (a fine strainer won't do enough).

Removing every piece of solid not only ensures better visual presentation but also a further layer of safety.

You'll notice that it looks similar to regular almond milk but with an even better smell!

Using a scale, measure out the liquid's weight in grams, and then measure your sugar of choice in grams (I'm using regular white granulated sugar).

Make sure that the weight of your sugar is DOUBLE to the weight of the liquid.

That's the 2:1 ratio we're looking for to make a rich syrup.

Combine the sugar and milk together and stir until completely dissolved.

If it takes too long for the sugar to dissolve, you can always gently double boil the mixture to speed up the process.

Once your syrup is ready, bottle it up and get ready to use it in the place of regular orgeat.

You can try it in Mai Tai's, Trinidad Sours, Hot in the Shade, Third Man Up, or generally speaking any Tiki cocktail!

Remember to use anywhere below 20ml for enough flavor and safety!

Cocktail Recipe


  • 60ml Rye Whiskey

  • 30ml Pineapple Juice

  • 20ml Lemon Juice

  • 20ml Apricot Kernel Orgeat

  • 4 Dashes Peychaud Bitters

  • Garnish: Leftover Pineapple Leaf & Edible Flower

A twist on a cocktail called a Surf Liner. All of the ingredients are combined, shaken, and poured over crushed ice.

This is a tiki cocktail, with a refreshing, tropical, and marzipan aftertaste.

Because IT IS intoxicating, don't surpass more than 1 drink.

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