Did you know that the Irish Coffee was perfected right in San Francisco at one of our favorite drinking spots the Buena Vista?  Did you know it is not just hot coffee, any old whiskey and a dollop of “whipped cream”?

Originally the Irish coffee experiment began at the Shannon Airport in Ireland on a chilly November evening in 1952.  Two friends, Jack Koeppler (then-owner of the Buena Vista) and international travel writer Stanton Delaplane spent the evening pouring, mixing and drinking coffee concoctions.  Unfortunately, the drink was not perfected at that time, even though, I am sure they had fun trying.

The two men went their separate ways, and Jack returned home to San Francisco where he continued working on the hot toddy.  After the jaunt at the Shannon airport, it was confirmed  that the drink was not right, as the whiskey was not perfect and the cream did not float.  Jack continued mixing and pouring until he found the perfect Irish whiskey to use in the toddy;  then he moved onto making cream “float”.  He reached out to the mayor of San Francisco for his expertise as he was also a prominent dairy owner.  Jack learned that the cream had to be lightly frothed, in order to reach the consistency that would “float” on top of the drink.  Hence, the Irish Coffee was complete.

To make a traditional (and proper) Irish Coffee you must follow the following steps:

  • Irish Coffee Glasses must used and preheated before mixing the drink.
  • Black coffee.
  • Brown sugar cubes;  not white.  Sugar is a must as it helps the liquid cream float.
  • Irish Whiskey must be used, no other will do.
  • Heavy cream that has been frothed is carefully poured over the back of a spoon that is held just above the surface of the coffee and raised a little.  The cream will float and you will enjoy the spiked warm coffee through the cream.








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