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Vanilla Bean Old Fashioned Cocktail

Old Fashioned Cocktail with vanilla

Tahitian vanilla is known for its fruity notes of black cherry and tart plum. These flavors work especially well in the standard bourbon old fashioned cocktail.

This recipe will leave you with plenty of extra vanilla bean syrup. You can also use it with club soda, coffee, tea, or even morning oatmeal.

Recipe by Geoff Marshall in Chicago.

Yield: 1 cocktail


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla simple syrup
  • 1 shake Angostura bitters
  • 2 ounces Bourbon whiskey
  • 1 1-inch by 2.5-inch piece orange peel
  • 1 or 2 maraschino cherries

Preparation Instructions:


Bring one cup of water to a simmer in a small pot, add sugar and stir until dissolved.

Slice vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Use the back of the knife to scoop out the black inner seeds.

Put the vanilla seeds into a small teacup and add a spoonful of hot syrup to the cup. Use a spoon to break up the seeds so there are no more clumps and it forms a paste.

Add the vanilla paste to the syrup. You may wish to use a splash of hot water or syrup to get any remaining vanilla out of the cup and into the pot. This is precious stuff!

Whisk the syrup so the seeds diffuse evenly. Cut the leftover been rind into 1-inch pieces and add it to the syrup.

Let the syrup gently simmer for 20-30 minutes, being careful not to let the sugar burn.

Remove vanilla rind pieces and let syrup cool. Transfer to bottle or glass jar.


In a tumbler glass add vanilla syrup and dash of bitters.

Fill glass with ice, pour in whiskey, and stir gently with a spoon.

Wipe rim of glass with orange peel and drop it in the cocktail.

Garnish with cherries and serve.

More About This Recipe

It's best to dial back on the bitters in this recipe. The Tahitian vanilla has a subtle and nuanced flavor and adding too much bitters can compete with that. For extra credit, warm the orange peel with a stick/grill lighter to warm the oils. You can then light these oils on fire right over the cocktail. Hold the orange slice two inches over the flame, directed at the drink. With the orange side facing the flame, press it to release the oils and set them on fire. Wipe the spent orange peel on the rim of the drink and set it right in the drink. For double extra credit, use Luxardo cherries instead of maraschino cherries.



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