Yes, Denver, there is a Santa Claus. And if you still need to get in the holiday spirit, this cocktail will take you there — fast. Osteria Marco's Alps in Rosso ($9), made with Hangar One Spiced Pear Vodka, house-infused rosemary gin, Leopold Brothers' Three Pins Alpine Herbal Liqueur, Strega Liqueur and Amarone cherry juice, tastes just like Christmas. In fact, I'm sure that the moment Santa's sleigh is out the door of the workshop, the elves are kickin' back with an Alps in Rosso martini in hand — no doubt mixed by Osteria bar manager Mike McGill or one of his merry band of bartenders. In my letter to Santa this year, I asked if he could sprinkle this bar's "How can I make this a great experience for you" attitude on all service professionals, but I'll probably get coal instead. Again. But at least I got this drink first, a perfect balance of sweet, strong and savory. Hangar One Spiced Pear Vodka (a very limited seasonal bottling) has an extremely clean pear aroma and flavor, with a subtle clove undertone. The Three Pins liqueur comes from a local distillery and is named for telemark skiers; it tastes like pine needles and must be good for you, since it's made from a blend of over a dozen herbs and flowers found along the Alpine trails that telemarkers ski, along with ginkgo biloba and echinacea. Add the rest of the ingredients and you have a veritable cocktail snow globe of holiday cheer. A couple Alps in Rossos at the bar and I can almost guarantee to all a good night.
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