I may have found a new signature cocktail.
You see, I’m very much a red wine girl (if I drink at all), but sometimes the situation isn’t quite right to say, “Pinot, please!” (See: Most sports bars, a dance club, etc.) My old M.O. was to order some variation of vodka and club soda, until I was recently introduced to the awesomeness that is the Moscow Mule. The classy cocktail uses the same mild-flavored alcohol, but mixes it with lime juice and ginger beer. It’s generally served in a copper mug and is just feels oh-so Mad Men.
Somehow, Facebook and its advertisers have caught on to my latest sip of choice, as I can’t get away from ads for those metallic mugs! I’ve been able to hold off for now, as I don’t do too much home mixology yet and rarely drink as it is.
Today, I have an equally awesome use for that vodka, well, depending on who you ask!
Did you know that you can make your own vanilla extract? I was inspired to research the possibilities after a couple of great friends hosted a dinner party that was capped off with Chess Pie. OMG. While preparing for the meal, they discovered they were out of vanilla and had to run to ask a neighbor to borrow theirs. In another example of “Iowa Nice,” of course the neighbors obliged!
It got me thinking, though. “I bet I could make my own vanilla! How hard could it be? Wouldn’t that be a fun way to repay my kind hosts?”
I hope they’re not reading right now because that would spoil the surprise. And they’d see how easy this is!
Simply invest in high-quality whole vanilla beans—I snagged these Madagascar ones from Whole Foods—and combine them with one cup of vodka. Store in a cool, dry place for three months, shaking every week or two, and prepare to gift or bake!
Don’t let the yummy, sweet essence go to waste in your vanilla bean jar. Fill it up with sugar or stevia to create a vanilla-infused sweetener that would be amazing stirred into your next cup of tea or coffee, or sprinkled on top your first big bowl of fresh strawberries this spring!
- 3 high-quality vanilla beans
- 1 cup vodka
- Slice the vanilla beans down the middle to expose the seeds.
- Drop split vanilla beans into an 10-ounce or larger jar.
- Pour in vodka, making sure to cover the full beans, and tightly seal.
- Keep in a cool, dark place (mine is sitting in the back of the refrigerator) for two to three months, shaking every week or two to mix up the vanilla flavor. It will get darker in color and richer in flavor the longer you let it marinate.
- Pour into smaller containers, such as 2- to 4-ounce extract jars or droppers, and use for baking and/or gifts. Feel free to keep the beans in the smaller containers to let the flavor intensify even more. Just push them down in the bottle to keep them covered by the liquid.
What would be your favorite food gift? How about your go-to cocktail?
See more skinny sips in this round-up I created for Recipe.com, where you can also now find me blogging. Cheers!