Opening Jiggers

The game plan behind the brand-new Comstock Saloon

Jeff Hollinger has had his fill of the cocktail-naming game.

"It got to the point where I was naming my cocktails after songs that were playing at work," he says.

So when Hollinger and fellow Absinthe alum Jonny Raglin open the Barbary Coast-inspired Comstock Saloon in North Beach this Thursday, the bar program will focus on nameless drinks created on whims and a prayer. "Sometimes a new drink sucks, so why should it get a name?" notes Hollinger.

It's unlikely a cocktail at Comstock would ever be close to undrinkable. But such insouciance is at the heart of Hollinger and Raglin's mission: The pair envision a bar where great cocktails are a given, but the pomp surrounding their execution has been stripped away.

As final preparations were being made to Comstock's turn-of-the-20th-century space, we asked Hollinger to describe the kinds of drinks he'll be making when Comstock opens. He gave an example from his home bar, where he recently poured a sturdy martini variation with Old Tom gin, aromatic Bianco vermouth, Manzanilla sherry and homemade chipotle-coffee bitters (click here to download the recipe).

His footnote: "I'm drinking one now, and I'm thinking about having a second." That's good enough for us.

Comstock Saloon, 155 Columbus Ave. (at Pacific St.); 415-617-0071 or comstocksaloon.com