Infuse Bourbon With Vanilla Bean For A Sweeter Touch

Infusing liquor is one of the simplest ways to instantly take your mixology game to the next level — and if you haven't met vanilla bean-infused bourbon before, allow us the pleasure of introducing you two. Sweet-buttery vanilla beans meet smoky, woody, baking spice-forward bourbon for a when-worlds-collide "good cop, bad cop" moment that'll leave cocktail fans thirsty for more. Plus, vanilla bean as an ingredient is simple to prepare and easy to remove from the bourbon once it's finished infusing.

All it takes is a few whole vanilla beans and a (sterilized) wide-mouthed Mason jar with a lid. Two vanilla beans per 8 ounces of bourbon is a good jumping-off point. That means that for a full 750ml bottle of bourbon, you'd want to use about six whole vanilla bean pods. To increase the surface area of your beans (and therefore increase the infusion), grab a sharp knife and split your beans down the middle, exposing the gooey, flavorful insides. Depending on the thickness of your beans, you might even be able to slice them vertically a second time, creating even more exposed surface area.

Infusing bourbon melds flavors together for a brew that's greater than the sum of its parts. To achieve a smoky vanilla profile, Evan Williams Black Label, Jim Beam, or Maker's Mark are all good budget-friendly bourbons. For a smoother, sweeter liquor, Four Roses and Eagle Rare 10 Year are both excellent fits.

Cozy and boozy, with just a touch of sweetness

To infuse, just fill the jar with bourbon, pop in the beans, screw on the lid, and give the jar a vigorous shake. Once each day, come back and shake that bad boy up again. Stash it in a cool, dark place and allow it to infuse for a full week. Or, for stronger flavor, leave it for two. You can always taste test and determine whether it needs more time. Once your vanilla bourbon has reached its desired potency, strain it through a cheesecloth or coffee filter and transfer to a new vessel to store. A lidded jar, flip-top glass bottle, or aesthetic apothecary bottle all work beautifully. Now, you're ready to build cocktails.

Vanilla-infused bourbon can be a great tool for reimagining your favorite go-to bourbon cocktails with minimal changes to the recipe. You could use it to make a Vanilla Old Fashioned or a Vanilla Mint Julep. Lend a sweet balance to a citrusy Boulevardier, or make an already dessert-like whiskey sour even more luscious. Vanilla bourbon would make a natural fit in a steaming mug of mulled cider, a hot toddy, or stirred into a little coffee with cream. You could even drive that vanilla profile home with a splash of homemade vanilla bean simple syrup. Or, sip it on the rocks and enjoy it with some crunchy amaretto-flavored biscotti for a sophisticated evening snack.