No. 74: Comstock Saloon's Pisco Punch

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Lou Bustamante
Comstock Saloon's Pisco Punch, a cocktail with a lineage.
SFoodie's countdown of the 92 best things to eat and drink in San Francisco, 2011 edition.

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​The one issue all cocktail historians can agree on is this: Determining the origin of a drink is imprecise work. Like most things that happen in a bar, the past is a blur of conflicting stories, exaggeration, and liquor. But Pisco Punch is one indisputably San Francisco cocktail, created in the late 19th century by Duncan Nicol at a bar called the Bank Exchange, where the city's iconic Transamerica Pyramid now stands.

That's what's so fitting (not to mention delicious) about enjoying this San Francisco original at Comstock Saloon. Housed in a circa-1907 building, Comstock evokes the spirit of Duncan Nicol with a list of standards that feel right at home. Supreme among them is Pisco Punch, which combines Encanto Pisco (a brand based in San Francisco), lemon and lime juices, Small Hand Foods' pineapple gum syrup, and a secret tincture of herbs owners Jonny Raglin and Jeff Hollinger describe only as "Nicol juice."

Arriving in the glass capped with a delicious and ephemeral foglike foam, it's a true San Franciscan, born and raised.

Comstock Saloon: 155 Columbus (at Pacific), 617-0071.

Dishes in our series so far:
92: Goat tacos from El Norteño
91: Faux shark's fin soup at Benu
90: Esperpento's alcachofas a la plancha
89: Poco Dolce's olive oil chocolate bar
88: Decantr's chicken-liver mousseline
87: Outerlands' levain bread
86: Fraîche's frozen yogurt
85: Gyro King's spinach pie
84: Tandoori fish from Lahore Karahi
83: Braised oxtail and daikon from Namu
82: Golden Gate Bakery's custard tart
81: Commonwealth's cured foie gras with umeboshi purée
80: Star Stream's Liège-style waffle
79: Mexican hot chocolate from La Oaxaqueña
78: Meatball sandwich from Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe
77: Cheesecake from Zanze's
76: Chicken pepian at San Miguel
75: Macau iced coffee at Vega/Special Xtra

Lou Bustamante tweets at @thevillagedrunk. Follow SFoodie at @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.

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