Drinking Week #4: Vanilla Rum, Part 1
This post is by necessity going to be brief and incomplete. For our very first Drinks Week a few months ago I posted my method for making limoncello. The other liqueur that I make on a regular basis is a Vanilla Rum. It’s a nice sipping rum, with lots of vanilla flavor. This post will detail the start of the procedure, and next month I’ll finish up the batch I’m starting here.
In cooking, a dish is only as good as its ingredients, and that holds true for making drinks as well. For the Vanilla Rum, I start with a dark rum as the base. You should pick a dark rum that you enjoy. We tried a few, and the one that I’ve used most often is Myer’s Original Dark Rum. Others will work well also, but the best results are obtained with a dark rum. The other main ingredient is vanilla beans. I use vanilla beans that I purchase from Penzey’s Spices. Luckily the Twin Cities has a very convenient store. Their prices are only a fraction higher than the chain supermarkets charge for spices, but the quality is significantly better.
To make the Vanilla Rum, I start with about three cups of dark rum. This works out to about 750 mls – a convenient size, as most rums can be found in that size bottle. Take four large vanilla beans, and split them down the center lengthwise with a sharp knife, leaving the top of the stem (the curved part) intact. The bean pods are rather leathery – they feel like a licorice stick – and require a sharp knife and a steady hand to split. If all goes well, you should end up with a wishbone. However, if you slip and the bean breaks into smaller pieces, don’t worry about it. It will make it a bit harder to fish them out of the rum bottle later, but it won’t affect the liqueur at all. Take care not to lose too much of the vanilla seeds – they’re in a thick, sticky goo inside the vanilla beans. I usually smear any escaped seeds back onto the beans.
Once all four vanilla beans are cut open, drop them into the rum, with the curved stem at the top (it makes them easier to fish out later). Cap the bottle, give it a nice shake, and then put it in a cool, dark location for two or three weeks. Whenever you remember, give it a light shake to redisperse everything.
Check back in a few weeks for the final steps in the making of Vanilla Rum!