As with many great classic cocktails, there is heated debate about how Irish coffee became such a phenomenon in San Francisco, but locals serious about their history may know the gist of the story.
Most people think a chef named Joe Sheridan made the drink at Foynes Airport (now called Shannon) in Ireland for the time-San Francisco Chronicle travel writer Stanton Delaplane. The scribe loved it so much we told Jack Koeppler, then owner of SF’s Buena Vista Cafe, about it. R&D to recreate the drink ensues, going as far as taking Koeppler to Ireland to learn more about whisky. There were also cream tests, and obviously a lot of imbibition.
The recipe that was chosen would be served in the iconic tumbler, and is a lightly sweetened, deliciously creamy coffee drink where the Irish whiskey never dominates, but the malt and spirit provide a constant buzz – the white noise of the drink. , if you will, which ends up causing the drinkers to make a lot of noise themselves.
While there are other excuses to head to the Buena Vista without the foreigner necessary, like all-day breakfast and Ghirardelli’s hot fudge sundaes, Irish coffee, with its fun history, is always the draw. (The drink is also, unsurprisingly, a regular on 7×7’s list of SF’s 50 Most Iconic Cocktails.)
Want to do it at home?
Irish Coffee Recipe from Buena Vista Cafe
(Courtesy of @thebuenavistasf)
Ingredients (for 1)
1.5 ounces Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey
Hot brewed coffee (Buena Vista uses Peerless, roasted in Oakland)
2 sugar cubes
Heavy whipped cream
Grab a glass mug and start with a hot water rinse for added warmth.
Add hot coffee and stir in sugar cubes until completely dissolved. Stir in the whiskey. Finally, carefully pour a tablespoon of heavy cream on top. (La Buena Vista ages its crema for 48 hours, making it tough enough to float on hot coffee until all the required shots have been taken.)
// The Buena Vista Cafe, 2765 Hyde St. (Fisherman’s Wharf), thebuenavista.com