The centerpiece is a beautifully restored mahogany bar from 1907, which sets the tone for both food and drink. Classic drinks like the John Collins, Manhattan, Negroni, and Martinez (said to have been created in San Francisco by Jerry Thomas, and the granddaddy to the martini) adorn the menu. For the indecisive, there's always the Bartender's Whimsy.
Raglin and Hollinger wouldn't disclose who, exactly, will be behind the stick. "Jeff and I will tend bar along with a trusted team of eager bar professionals who are a good mix of old, young, witty, and a little bit sexy," Raglin told us.The food is by Carlo Espinas, a journalist-turned-chef who's spent time in the kitchens of Camino, Piccino (he was opening chef there), and Bar Jules. His menu is inspired by typical saloon fare of the early 1900s, selections like beef shank and marrow pie, and a crock of beans with salt pork and biscuit. Absinthe/Arlequin pastry chef Luis Villavelazquez's desserts guarantee to be as interesting, stuff like salted caramel pudding, and a house-made confectionery plate featuring killer sassafras candy.
Don't forget to keep an eye out for some exclusive and rare spirits at the bar, like Black Maple Hill 18-year-old rye whiskey, A.H. Hirsch 16-year reserve bourbon, Clear Creek Distillery's McCarthy's Single Malt, and St. George Spirits Pinot Noir brandy (it appears in cocktail form in the Saint's Buck with ginger and bitters).
As for the Emperor Norton influence on the project, don't expect it to become a gimmick. "You could say he is our guiding light," Raglin explained, "even if it is just a flickering one."
Comstock Saloon 155 Columbus (at Jackson), 617-0071; open Tues.-Sun., 2 p.m.-2 a.m.; closed Mon.