2020 GARDEN & GUN MADE IN THE SOUTH AWARDS! AS SEEN IN DECEMBER/JANUARY 2021 ISSUE.
Orgeat, a traditional nineteenth-century syrup made with almonds and laced with floral notes (typically from orange or rose water), often shows up in throwback cocktails—especially tiki drinks. Christa Cotton, the owner and CEO of New Orleans–based El Guapo, grew up in Southwest Georgia, where her uncle still farms pecans. She had noticed that other producers were making orgeat out of pistachios and hazelnuts—so why not substitute in pecans instead? And while many brands use high-fructose corn syrup, Cotton eschews that sweetener in her line of classic bitters, syrups, and cocktail mixers. The resulting mildness makes El Guapo’s Creole Orgeat superb in tiki classics like the mai tai, but also sublime when added to a bourbon or brandy milk punch, used as a replacement for a sugar cube in an old-fashioned, or even splashed into a cup of coffee. “It’s pretty versatile,” Cotton says.