May it be for a morning kickstart or an evening nightcap, the Irish Coffee is one of the world’s most popular drinks. The delectable blend of coffee, sugar, cream, and Irish whiskey is not only the ideal beverage to toast St. Patrick’s Day, but is enjoyed as a year-round delight.
The origins of the Irish Coffee can be traced back to San Francisco’s legendary Buena Vista Cafe. In 1952, Jack Koeppler, then-owner of the Buena Vista, challenged travel writer Stanton Delaplane of the San Francisco Chronicle to help recreate the highly touted "Irish Coffee" served at Shannon Airport in Ireland.
Despite extensive experimentation with the recipe, Koeppler and Delaplane weren’t able to get the taste quite right - and the cream would not float. Koeppler was undaunted and the restaurateur pursued the elusive elixir with fervor, even traveling overseas to Shannon Airport to get the flavors just right. Ultimately, it was George Christopher, the mayor of San Francisco, who helped put the final touches on the beverage. Christopher, a prominent dairy owner advised that when the cream aged for 48 hours and frothed to a precise consistency, it would float - creating the perfect Irish Coffee.
The beverage can now be found throughout the globe. In the Bay Area, you can enjoy a Irish Coffee at Original Joe’s, another San Francisco classic around for 80+ years, or the 1920s inspired San Jose hotspot Haberdasher. In Tahoe, you can warm up after a day on the slopes with an Irish Coffee at the rustic chic Pioneer Cocktail Club or the luxurious waterfront Gar Woods Grill & Pier.
But tourists and locals alike still frequent the Buena Vista for its world famous beverage, including toasting life’s celebratory moments - from birthdays to engagements to anniversaries - over the legendary Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista’s wood paneled bar. What started as a challenge between two friends has now become a San Francisco institution.
The Buena Vista Irish Coffee
The recipe’s simple ingredients make it easy to recreate the Buena Vista’s famous Irish Coffee at home. To make the original Irish Coffee, you need the original Irish whiskey - Tullamore D.E.W.
The triple blend Irish whiskey with its smooth and gentle complexity achieved through blending all three styles of Irish whiskey, triple dilatation and triple maturation is the perfect pairing to the coffee, sugar, and cream for a balanced and delectable treat.