Holiday Chestnut Sour 1.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Kara Elder/The Washington Post

Spirits Dec 7, 2018

Classic orgeat is almond-based, but this drink gives it a seasonal twist by using roasted chestnuts with a smoky mezcal and rich sherry.

To read the accompanying story, see: Looking for a holiday cocktail? Try a hoary old chestnut.

Make Ahead: You should make the chestnut orgeat in advance to give it time to cool; it can be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Where to Buy: We used Del Maguey’s Vida for the mezcal, but any mezcal with a nice smoky note will work well here (to give that “roasting on an open fire” taste). Note that the orgeat also works well as a creamy sweetener in coffee.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 1 servings; makes about 3 cups chestnut orgeat syrup

  • For the chestnut orgeat
  • 2 cups peeled, roasted, coarsely chopped chestnuts
  • 6 whole dried allspice berries
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon Angostura bitters
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup dark rum
  • For the drink
  • Ice
  • 1 1/2 ounces mezcal (see headnote)
  • 3/4 ounce Pedro Ximenez sherry
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • Star anise pod, for garnish, (optional)


For the chestnut orgeat: Combine the chestnuts, allspice berries, cinnamon, salt, bitters, brown sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring once or twice. Let cool.

Ladle or pour into a blender; puree until smooth and creamy. Add the run and blend again, until well incorporated.

Strain it at least once through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any remaining chunks and minimize the starchy texture. Bottle the mixture, seal and refrigerate until well chilled. The yield is about 3 cups.

For the drink: Chill a Nick and Nora glass or cocktail coupe. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then add the mezcal, sherry, lemon juice and 1 ounce of the chestnut orgeat. Seal and shake vigorously for 20 seconds, then strain the drink into the chilled glass.

Float the star anise pod on top, if desired.

Rate it

Recipe Source

From Spirits columnist M. Carrie Allan.

Tested by M. Carrie Allan.

Email questions to the Food Section.

Email questions to the Food Section at