What do you get when you take two guys from one of the godmothers of San Francisco’s market-driven, restaurant-cum-bar cocktail scene, move them into a turn-of-the-last-century Barbary Coast saloon replete with player piano, and then blend a cocktail list of revisited period classics with a dining menu that brings late nineteenth century bar food into the twenty-first? Answer: Comstock Saloon, a pretty damn good place to spend an evening. Jeff Hollinger (co-author of Art of the Bar) and Johnny Raglin have come up with an almost dangerous combination – a menu of salty, savory small plate items like “beef shank & bone marrow pot pie” or “fried oyster & ham po’boy” that are perfectly suited to devouring with well-crafted cocktails. I am quite certain that it is a good thing (for me) that I no longer live in the neighborhood.
This is one of the obscure classics on their regular rotation. David Wondrich has an early print appearance of the recipe coming from The Ideal Bartender (1917) by Tom Bullock of the St. Louis Country Club. The 1917 version is fairly simple, containing only apricot eau-de-vie and lime juice. Wondrich prefers that recipe, but its far too dry and one-dimensional for me. Comstock features a variation that includes rum – in this case, the high proof, full hogo Smith & Cross. In addition, it uses the sweet liqueur style “apricot brandy” instead of an eau-de-vie. Finally, some bitters help round it out. It’s still a drink on the drier side, but a more approachable modern one.
1 1/2 oz. Smith & Cross Jamaican rum
3/4 oz. lime juice
3/4 oz. Rothman & Winter apricot brandy
2 dash Angostura bitters
Shake & strain into cocktail glass.