Yes, I know it was a work night but some things deserved to be celebrated. It was time, I thought, to try the vanilla vodka. I’d had great success with the basil vodka and tomato essence cocktail so maybe the vanilla vodka would prove to be as much of a triumph.
I’m very lucky in that all of my lovely friends know how much I love cooking and when they travel I am often the happy recipient of some local delicacy. Far better that than a teeshirt with the name of a resort on it, I always think. I have had gorgeous cheeses from Catalan, spices from Istanbul, chorizos from Spain, sweets from South America, bush herbs from Australia, strange herbed alcohol from Germany, delicious vodkas from Poland, salamis and cheese from Italy… but possibly the most luxurious of all was a gorgeous bundle of vanilla pods from Flores, Indonesia.
Friends of ours, C & C, had gone on a wonderful trip, island hopping round Indonesia and when they returned they sent me a parcel through the internal post at work. I’d collected the post from the post room and walked back to my office, wondering what the parcel addressed to me was… and why it smelled so deliciously of vanilla.
I couldn’t believe it when I opened it… all those pods. Now THAT is luxury on a grand scale.
There were 25 plump, juicy and aromatic pods.
You know how expensive vanilla is…I’d never had so much vanilla. This was my chance to experiment.
Apart from cakes and sweet things, I had wanted to try infusing vodka with vanilla. All I needed was a bottle of vodka and I was ready to go.
When I slit open the pods they were absolutely crammed with glistening black vanilla seeds.
They just had to be dropped into the bottle.
Within half an hour the vodka had started to take on a gorgeous golden brown tint as the essence of vanilla seeped into the alcohol.
And that was it. I left the bottle in the larder, with the pods releasing their flavour, for a couple of weeks. I was saving it for a special occasion.
And now, it seems, was a special occasion.
I’d been looking around for cocktail recipes involving vanilla infused vodka and a recurring theme involved using ginger ale. According to what I’d read it tasted like “creamsicles”… now I haven’t the faintest idea what that was but it sounded good to me.
When I called in, on the way home from work, to buy some ginger ale, I saw Fever-tree Ginger Ale and Ginger Beer so I bought that. Fever-tree mixers are probably the best I have come across (and yes, that is an independent choice by me. No bribery here.) Their tonic is my favourite to have in a Gin and Tonic
I thought I’d see what was best, ginger ale or ginger beer.
First of all, we tried ginger beer.
One generous measure of vanilla vodka was poured over ice
And then topped up with Fever-tree Ginger Beer.
Verdict? The Ginger Beer is a powerful drink with a hefty kick of ginger, which rather overpowered the smooth and luxurious vanilla vodka. You could just about tell it was there but, as the Bear said, putting the vanilla vodka in there was probably just a sneaky way to get someone tiddly. As a ginger beer by itself though, it was fantastic with a gorgeous bite to it. And I say that as someone who happens to be a ginger beer connoisseur.
On with the experiment… well I was entitled to celebrate, wasn’t I? Ginger Ale next.
More vanilla vodka, poured over ice
… and topped up with ginger ale….
It was delicious. It was creamy and smooth with a gorgeous overlay of vanilla and a bright tang of ginger. very more-ish.
As to whether it tastes like a creamsicle or not, I have no idea. Whether I will do it again? Yes, I definitely will.
Vanilla vodka is a winner whether you drink it neat, poured over lots of ice or add it to a mixer.
And to think it is as easy to make as that. Get some vanilla pods and a bottle of vodka and invent a reason to celebrate yourself!
Thanks, C & C… or, as it should be, CHEERS!