A classic N. Beach cocktail den...finally

Published On 05/17/2010 Published On 05/17/2010

It's always a pleasure to behold something that's aged gracefully, e.g., Angkor Wat, an '82 Lafite Rothschild, or Epic Beard Man. Add the corner of Columbus and Kearny to that list, thanks to Comstock Saloon.

Movin' into a North Beach space that's been some kind of watering hole since the Barbary Coast days, Comstock's an elegantly appointed, throwback cocktail bar with classically gourmet pub grub, brought to you by the booze-slingers behind Absinthe (the restaurant, not the drink that only makes you hallucinate if you're European, in which case how are you even reading this?). The space features the original mahogany bar n' tile floors, plus countless saloon-worthy accoutrements (prominently displayed leather flasks labeled "Rye", "Scotch", and "Bourbon", a working spittoon, a 150-year old absinthe fountain...), and a first-come first-served, fireplace-abetted parlor room, next to a small mezzanine balcony that's reserved for piano players, jazz trios, and Muppet-hecklers. The drink menu's flush with expertly mixed classics (Negronies, Manhattans, and Martinez...es), but if you're feelin' adventurous, opt for the "Barkeep's Whimsy" -- a tender's choice cocktail that "suits the spirit and flavor preferences of individual guests" -- good thing he can see in your eyes that you love Ovaltine!

The menu's by an ex-Camino chef, and includes stuff like grilled quail with oyster stuffing, beef shank and bone marrow pot-pie, and a confections plate of peanut brittle, chocolate fudge, and sassafras candy -- a dish that packs so much sugar, you may need someone to bring amber lamps.

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1. Comstock Saloon 155 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133 (North Beach)

From the folks behind Absinthe, Comstock is a classic San Francisco bar in North Beach. The throwback interior is outfitted with antique fans, a 150-year-old absinthe fountain, and the spot's original mahogany bar from 1907. The cocktails are just as classic as the bar, and the tie-and-vest wearing bartenders know how to mix pisco, lemon juice, and pineapple gomme into a standout punch.