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Thursday 7 July 2011

Cocktail Hour: Rosa Bella and Homemade Orgeat

Beware team! There are goblins on this floor. Advanced cocktail-making goblins. Should you wish to play, there is a recipe for the most delectable almond syrup, orgeat. If not, there's a dead easy shortcut to my favourite cocktail of recent times, the magnificent Rosa Bella, which I tried in Clapham’s award-winning bar The Loft a couple of weeks ago.

On paper, it’s a cacophony of unusual flavours: honeyed cachaca, almond syrup (also known as orgeat), rose water and fresh limes. It was created by the bar’s resident mixologist and co-owner Andrew Campana, named as a pun on the names of both his new-born daughter, and the Abelha cachaca. Cute!

Andrew has very kindly given us the recipe for both the cocktail and the orgeat. If you’d rather do an easy version, Monin, the French sirop people, make a great orgeat which you can get in Waitrose for about a fiver.

Rosa Bella – serves one

  • 50ml Abelha Organic Cachaca
  • 20ml Homemade Orgeat
  • 15ml fresh lime juice
  • 2 dashes rose water

Add everything into a tumbler and serve on ice. Simple!

The Loft's homemade Orgeat recipe
by Andrew Campana

Commercial Orgeats are all made using water, sugar and flavourings. Now these flavourings are mainly almond essential oils, and so are from almonds, but making orgeat by infusion in the following way tastes far superior.

I have added a little bit of hazelnut for some complexity, and the vodka to extend shelf life, and increase the intensity of flavour (use Tesco Value vodka or Sainsbury's Basics as it is only neutral alcohol and water and as such has absolutely no flavour whatsoever which is what we want here).
  • 200g blanched almonds
  • 50g blanched hazelnuts
  • 350ml water
  • 350g sugar
  • 100ml vodka
  • Rose water or orange blossom water to taste
  • Makes 1700ml
Roast the nuts on an oven at 200°c for three minutes to help release the flavour. Remove and place in a food processor until powdered. Do not use flaked or ground almonds, the final product is nowhere nearly as good. Also the nuts must not have the brown skin on them, as this will lead to a product with a massively reduced shelf life.

Add to a pan with the water and sugar. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Cover and leave for one hour.

When cool, pour and press though a sieve, and then through a fine muslin. Then add the neutral spirit and the rose water. Bear in mind that the spirit will need a day to integrate into the cordial. It will taste and smell very boozy at first but this will be unnoticeable after a day.

This cordial should be good for one month or so, which means you've got plenty of cocktail making to get through.

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