Monday nights are usually pretty quite in San Francisco, the weekend is over, most restaurants are closed, and it’s back to the daily grind — but not at Comstock Saloon. Here, under the protection of Emperor Norton perched high above the bar, the weekend is just starting. And here is where you’ll find me, enjoying a barkeep’s whimsy Pisco cocktail from Jared and sitting in on drums, playing some swinging Gypsy Jazz tunes with Gaucho on the balcony stage.
Though the space it occupies has been a bar since 1907, Comstock only recently turned 3 years old. But despite its young age, everything about the saloon pays homage to the legendary days of the Barbary Coast and classic American cocktails such as the born in San Francisco Pisco Punch or the Vieux Carre from New Orleans. It’s also two blocks away from the Transamerica Pyramid, where once stood the famous Bank Exchange Bar, birthplace of the Pisco Punch in the late 1800’s. Perhaps that’s why I’ve started a tradition of ordering a Pisco cocktail every Monday night at Comstock, to be connected to the past, and to sip a little bit of the history that connects San Francisco to Peru.
So Monday night after Monday night, I’ve enjoyed different Pisco cocktails mixed with Rum, Bourbon, Brandy, Chartreuse, Sweet Vermouth, Dry Vermouth, Sherry, Liquors, and Bitters, sometimes shaken, but mostly stirred, garnished with citrus peels, neat, or on the rocks. All I have to do is sit at the bar, catch Jared’s eye, and he’ll start making my drink. Then he’ll come over, present the cocktail, and wait for my reaction to that first sip. “Does it work, brother?” Oh yeah, it works. And if the band is playing Louis Armstrong’s “Lazy River,” then I am instantly transported to New Orleans, certain that if I stepped outside, I would find myself in the middle of the French Quarter instead of North Beach. Now that, is what I call a cocktail. That, is what I call Comstock’s Monday Night Special.
Happy Birthday Comstock! You are only 3 years old but you look 100, and that’s a compliment. A special thank you to Jared for all the inspired drinks you’ve created on Monday nights, and to Gaucho for inviting me to play with you — I can’t imagine a better way to start the week. This cocktail is for you, cheers!
- 2 oz. Pisco
- 1 oz. Dark Añejo Rum
- 1/2 oz. Sweet Vermouth
- 1/2 oz. Oloroso Cream Sherry
- 3 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters
- orange peel for garnish
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, stir to chill, and serve strained in a tumbler glass with one ice cube. Garnish with an orange peel.