The problem with some specialty cocktails is that they call for special ingredients, which means you have to make a special trip down to the liquor store or market. Orgeat, a nutty floral syrup, works as a sweetener in mixed drinks, primarily of the tropical variety. Substitute amaretto, an almond-flavored liqueur, for orgeat to maintain the same flavor profile while giving the drink a more potent punch.
Orgeat, a non-alcoholic syrup, gives cocktails a sweet combination of almonds and floral-infused water. A mixture of almond extract, rose or orange flower water and sugar, orgeat is an important ingredient in the mai tai cocktail, a Polynesian-style rum-based cocktail, which was invented by Californian restaurant Trader Vic's. Orgeat works well in cocktails like the mai tai with sweet liquors like rum and blue Curacao because the syrup adds only a subtle sweetness without overpowering the other flavors.
Amaretto, I Dunno
Amaretto liqueur, a moderately potent, sweet and nutty liquor, mixes well with many other liquors and liqueurs in shots and cocktails. Often enjoyed chilled straight or on the rocks, this Italian alcoholic beverage gets its almond flavor from real almonds or apricot pits, depending on the brand and quality of the liqueur. Not only is the liqueur mixed in different shooters and cocktails, desserts like tiramisu also list it as an ingredient. Due to the high sugar content of the liqueur, the liqueur's texture is thick and slow-pouring.
Make the Switch
Amaretto can sub for orgeat syrup but with a few catches. First, amaretto liqueur costs more than the syrup. Second, amaretto liqueur actually has alcohol in it whereas orgeat does not. Finally, amaretto liqueur has none of the rose or orange flower floral notes. An easy way around these differences is to substitute orgeat with two-thirds amaretto liqueur and one-third flower water; this won't affect the potency of the drink too much because it's like adding a small floater or half-shot to the drink.
Make Your Own
If you have to have orgeat and cannot find it on the shelves anywhere, you can actually make your own with a few different recipes. The simplest recipe calls for only four ingredients: almond milk, almond extract, sugar and orange blossom or rose water. Another recipe calls for a mixture of already-made syrups -- vanilla, cream and simple syrups -- mixed with a few drops of bitter almond oil. One final recipe calls for a little elbow grease -- crush sweet and bitter almonds with a mortar and pestle, then mix with water, sugar and orange flower water.