The vanilla bean can be quite expensive. As of November 2023, half a bean and/or half a gram goes for $10 in the grocery store. They used to be $12 for a bean twice the size/amount and it would clearly state that it was from Madagascar. Now there is only one generic brand and it says on the label of ingredients that it is “organic vanilla beans”. I love how they pluralize “beans” when there is half of one. So if you are on a budget and are not going to use a lot of this or there are not a lot of cocktails that call for vanilla syrup, simply use a teaspoon of real vanilla extract to taste. There is never a substitute for the real thing, however, a half ounce of any syrup is most likely going to get lost in a cocktail with other ingredients like spirits, juices and mixers. In fact, if you do not get the vanilla taste you were hoping for, don’t hesitate to add a drop or two of pure vanilla extract. Even that is not cheap at $7 per 2 ounce (60ml) bottle.
- 4 ounces spring water
- 4 ounces white granulated sugar
- 1 vanilla bean (.05g – usually sold in jars by the baking spices)
I always like to measure and add the sugar first, because if you measure the water first, the sugar will always stick to the sides of the measuring glass. Add to a small clean sauce pan and slowly dissolve until all the sugar is gone and the syrup is clear. Next split the vanilla bean in half, scrape out the very thin center of it with a toothpick or tip of a knife and add it into the syrup. I even include the outer bean and pour it back into the container it came in because there is a lot of vanilla scent in there because it can be strong.
Allow to steep for at least 3 hours. Give it a taste, if you can only taste the sugar and not the vanilla, add a couple of drops of pure vanilla extract.
Strain into a new container and store for up to 30 days.