The origins of this cocktail don't lie in some famed pre-prohibition bar, or squalid speakeasy, or glamorous cocktail revivalist nightspot; they lie in as mundane a place as my kitchen. Back in March, 2011 I planned a flight of cocktails to educate a good friend of mine on the beauties of gin, because he's long had a distaste for the liquor. I chose several classic cocktails and presented one original creation, that I spent over a week tinkering with before I got something I was satisfied with. I really wanted to use at least one local ingredient, and decided on Three Pins Alpine Herbal Liqueur by Leopold Bros., an excellent Colorado distiller. This intensely flavored liqueur is made with a blend of herbs and flowers that grow in the Colorado Rockies.

The Monday Forest Fire's clunky name comes from the fact that I couldn't decide whether to name it for the Indian Gulch forest fire that was blazing above nearby Golden, or the boy I was crushing on, so I ended up splitting the difference. I was pretty pleased with the drink, and it was the hit of the evening, although whether that was because my guests were polite, or because they had imbibed four gin-based cocktails before, I can't say. Still, I've made it a few times after that occasion and have been very happy with the balance of sweet, sour, herby, and acid. There's a sweet, subtle smokiness that underscores all the pungent herb, pine, and floral notes, and a pleasant, acidic tang from the blood orange juice. The resulting drink is a rich garnet color, immediately after shaking it will be cloudy, but as it settles the red intensifies.

1 ounce fresh squeezed blood orange juice
1/2 ounce London dry gin
1/2 ounce Leopold Bros. Three Pins Herbal Alpine Liqueur
1/4 ounce sweet vermouth (I used Carpano Antica)
1/4 ounce rum syrup (recipe below)

Shake over ice for at least thirty seconds. Strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of orange peel and a sprig of rosemary.

Rum syrup
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark rum
1/3 cup water

Combine all ingredients in saucepan. Heat over medium heat until mixture simmers. Stir until all sugar is dissolved. Turn heat to low. Allow to simmer for four more minutes. Remove from heat, cool until use.

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