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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Story Behind Comstock Saloon's Happy Hour 'Headbutt'

Posted By on Tue, Jun 29, 2010 at 4:01 PM

Comstock's Dutch headbutt, a shot of genever with a Trumer back, $6 before 6 p.m. - HANSEN L/YELP
  • Hansen L/Yelp
  • Comstock's Dutch headbutt, a shot of genever with a Trumer back, $6 before 6 p.m.
Happy hours are like pizza and sex: Even when it's bad, it's still pretty good.

SFoodie's weekly happy hour pick presents some of the best places to nosh and drink for cheap, but some drink specials are so distinctive that they're worth taking a closer look at.

Comstock Saloon has added an interesting twist to the classic shot-and-a-beer combo by offering a Dutch-style kopstootje (or "little headbutt"): a shot of Bols genever served in a tulip glass with a pilsner back. (Genever, of course, is a type of gin made from an unaged whiskey base instead of a neutral spirit ― i.e., vodka ― commonly found in the London dry styles. It is distilled with juniper berries and a combination of herbs, finished with malt wine for sweetness and additional malty character.)

What's the story behind the little headbutt? Tal Nadari, Bols' U.S. managing director and a Dutch expat, was able to break it down for us.

Nadari says that in Holland a kopstootje will get you a lager beer and a shot of young genever in a tulip-shaped shot glass filled so full, it beads on top. This situation, while a sign of hospitality, makes it impossible to move the glass. The solution is simple: "You move your head to the [tulip] glass, slurp a little first, then take a sip of beer," Nadari explains.

"The exact origin of the combination is unknown," Nadari says, "but what is known is that it's been popular for the last two centuries in Holland. People are sometimes surprised by idea of drinking a shot of gin, but genever has always been drunk neat and in some ways is closer to whiskey because of the grains and the malt wine used."

Nadari believes it also might have its roots in the fact that warring Dutchmen would imbibe large quantities of genever before battle. Their drunken rage made them so ferocious the English dubbed the beverage "Dutch courage."

Comstock has taken the Dutch tradition a step further and added some international flair to round out happy hour:

Dutch Headbutt:

A shot of genever with a Trumer Pilsner back

Mexican Headbutt:

A shot of Jose Cuervo Tradicional Silver with a can of Tecate back

American Headbutt:

A shot of Four Roses Bourbon with an Anchor Steam beer back

Comstock's happy hour is Tues.-Sun., 4-6 p.m. Each headbutt is $6.

Comstock Saloon 55 Columbus (at Kearny), 617-0071.

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