On the Sauce: Vanilla Bean in Love (with video)

Taking it easy with this week's drink, featuring maraschino liqueur, vanilla and gin, is a breeze.

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It's funny how a drink comes together. Sometimes you get inspiration from the strangest places. Look no further than the Sugar and Squeeze bourbon cocktail. I was scrolling the interwebs, came across a recipe for brûléed grapefruit and thought, why not use that smoky goodness in a cocktail?

And other times, it's not so easy.

Months ago I bought a bottle of maraschino liqueur, which has sat in my home bar for seemingly forever. I figured a recipe would come up and I'd use it. Never happened. I'm glad I didn't force it, though, because the liqueur complements this week's cocktail perfectly. It's the little extra something that elevates our latest drink, Vanilla Bean in Love, from "mmm" to "wow." You can make the cocktail without the sweet cherry nectar, but it's not the same.

We first used Caorunn Gin last year in a cocktail called Running Out of Thyme, which works just as well in summer as it did in fall. But the gin also plays well with vanilla and lemon. Vanilla was created to pair with maraschino cherry flavor anyway, right? With these tasty elements, Vanilla Bean in Love takes you on a joyride of luscious flavors.

If you're not into gin, you really should get with it, but you can substitute with your favorite vodka as well. For those who've reached baller status, the best maraschino liqueur is Luxardo, and you could even incorporate a Madagascar vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract. Remember, though: vanilla is mandatory.

I should warn you that this cocktail is highly drinkable. You'll finish your first, then quickly go for another. While coming up with the drink wasn't a breeze, taking it easy with one of these sure is.

Vanilla Bean in Love

Makes 1

Vanilla lemon peel syrup:

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

3 lemon peels, 3 inches long

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a saucepan over high heat, add water and sugar. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to simmer and add lemon peels. Let simmer for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cooled, remove from heat and add vanilla extract. Store covered and refrigerated for up to a month.

Cocktail:

2 ounces Caorunn Gin

3/4 ounce vanilla lemon peel syrup

1 ounce maraschino liqueur

Juice of half a lemon

Splash of tonic or club soda

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add gin, syrup, maraschino liqueur and lemon juice. Shake until well-chilled. In a Collins glass filled with ice, strain in cocktail. Top with tonic or club soda. Garnish with a lemon wheel.

Follow CL contributor Chris Fasick (@cfasick) on Twitter, or email him at [email protected] if there's a cocktail or recipe you'd like featured.

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