Vanilla is awesome, period. What you’ll notice in our first Light Rum Volume 1 recipe book, we have some recipe designs with vanilla simple syrup. What you might not know is that vanilla is quite expensive for a handful of beans but if you utilize them well, you can craft your own simple syrup without too much trouble. Here is the recipe I created that gives much the same flavor profile of B.G. Reynolds’ Vanilla simple syrup.
- 1/2 cup (4 oz.) white cane sugar
- 1/2 cup (4 oz.) water
- 1/2 vanilla bean (split and scraped)
Cut a vanilla bean in half (or use the whole thing if you want a lot of additional vanilla flavor or you want to double your water & sugar mixture). Once sliced in half, split the bean open with your fingers and scrape out the beans into a small pile (of awesome!) Do not throw out the bean itself, we’ll want that too.
Combine the sugar and water in a sauce pan and turn on the burner to medium/high and stir to bring the sugar off the bottom of the pan and float within the water. As the liquid warms it will begin to turn clear as the sugar dissolves. Add your scraped vanilla beans and the bean itself into the sugar water mixture.
Once you can see completely through the liquid and no sugar crystals remain, add 30-seconds to your timer and let it continue to heat. When 30-seconds has expired, take the liquid off your burner and set on a cool burner for 10-15 minutes. This gives the liquid a chance to cool and the vanilla a chance to infuse into the sugars deeper.
Once you’ve let it rest a bit, you can remove the vanilla bean itself but all the small “black dots” of vanilla seeds should remain in your sugar mixture (don’t strain them out).
Bottle and you’re done.
As stated in our Cinnamon Simple Syrup recipe, if you measure by weight instead of using a solid measuring cup, you will have a much more accurate sugar and water mixture.
Store in refrigerator for 2-3 weeks or more. If you see small green dots or swirls floating around, the syrup has gone bad and should be tossed out. To extend the life of your syrup for a few additional months, add a half ounce of vodka to the liquid, give it a few shakes and stick it within the fridge. Our recipe was for half the amount of syrup we typically create because of the use of vanilla bean and to avoid it going bad if not fully utilized over time.
But, wait, can I use Vanilla Extract instead of a bean?
Yes, if you want to use off-the-shelf vanilla extract, add 1 tsp instead of your vanilla bean. We like the fresh real beans better but do what you feel most comfortable with–especially if you need it in a pinch!
Rich Vanilla Simple Syrup
If you want a syrup that will preserve longer you can double your sugar ratio, utilizing 4 oz. of water to 8 oz of sugar. This will allow you to utilize less syrup in each cocktail but keep the concentrated sugar vanilla sweetness. You’ll also find it lasts double as long in the fridge when you complete your mix.