I have been making this stuff for years and it is a great emergency drink to have in the freezer. You can now buy all sorts of flavoured vodkas, but the are so easy to make yourself, it seems silly to pay extra to let the distiller do it for you. All sort of flavourings can be used, citrus peel, such as lemon or lime, lemongrass, lime leaves, chilli peppers, cinnamon sticks, but vanilla beans seem to work the best. They really impart a strong resinous vanilla flavour that not only tastes fantastic, but also takes the harsh alcoholic edge off neat vodka. In addition, the sinewy black vanilla bean looks enticing as well as foreboding swimming in the spirit.
Any type of vodka will work fine, but it helps if the vodka is a good quality triple distilled version, so as to provide a clean palette for the vanilla to really shine through, Try Stolichnaya, Absolut, Finlandia or Polish Pure Spirit. Beware the last though. It packs a serious punch.
1 Bottle good quality triple distilled vodka
1 Vanilla bean
Using a small sharp knife split the vanilla bean in half lengthways. Open the vodka and slide the bean in. Re-cap tightly. Leave at room temperature, out of direct sunlight to let the flavour infuse. It will display some mild vanilla characteristics after one week, but will continue to get stronger the more you leave it.
When ready to start hitting the bottle, place in the freezer one day in advance. Next day, get some keen and curious friends around, set up some shot glasses and let the vanilla take hold.