We all remember the muu'muu. Good times. But it just so happens the same guy who brought me back that floral-print, also brought with him some knowledge gained from a tour of the Hawaiian vanilla factory. He told me the secret to making custom vanilla extract at home!
Now his wife loved baking rum cakes for the holidays, so she used white rum. I'm not a vodka drinker, but when I mix drinks, I always use Stoli, so it seemed the most inoffensive (flavorless) choice. Of course they mail-ordered perfect-pure Good Hawaiian vanilla beans in a DIY starter-kit, and you can to! Or, save $20 + shipping and run down to your local HFS. I got this jar at the McKinney Target.
Drink a shot (or two) before you start! This is important for many, many reasons!!! (Only one of which is to make room for the vanilla beans.)
Observe the texture of the bean. Touch it. Caress it. Place the tip of your tongue to its leathery outer shell. Close your eyes. Take another shot of vodka...
STAT! You're a sturgeon and its time to operate! Using a small, sharp knife, make an incision the entire length of the bean. I tried to not penetrate the bean entirely.
Open it up to take in its expensive aroma. This is what will slowly leach out for the next 10-years or so.
Place the slit beans in the bottle and re-cap. Place in a cool, dry cupboard for a minimum of three month to allow for the initial flavor.
After three months you can begin using it as you would store-bought vanilla extract. The bottle should produce flavor for the next ten years with this one simple rule: Everytime you use some, refill the bottle with fresh.