Did you know that the Irish Coffee recipe was perfected in San Francisco at one of our favorite drinking spots the Buena Vista?  Did you also 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 on to 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.

Tips:  to make a traditional (and proper) Irish Coffee you must follow these steps:

  • Irish Coffee Glasses must be used and preheat 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.

Recipe:  Irish Coffee


*inspired by our brother-in-law Shawn, as well as the Buena Vista
*makes 4 Irish coffees

5 cups fresh brewed black coffee
4 ounces Irish whiskey, we use Jameson or Tullamore work the best
brown or white sugar cubes
1 cup heavy cream

How To:

Brew black coffee according to the directions of your coffee maker.

Bring a pot of water to an almost boiling point. Carefully pour into Irish coffee glasses.

Pour the cream into a mixing bowl and gently mix at a speed of 4, until bubbly; about 1 1/2 minutes. The cream will still be pourable and full of tiny bubbles. Set aside.

Pour the water out of the glasses.

Place two sugar cubes into each glass.

Pour the hot coffee into the glass until three-quarters of the way full.

Stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Add 1 ounce of whiskey to each glass.

Then pour the cream over the top, following the step above.




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