Irish coffee warms body and soul

November 24, 2015

Irish-coffee-recipeI’d moved to the San Francisco Bay area just the year before when a guy I’d met took me out on the town. It was a cold, wintry night in San Francisco, so we stopped in late at the Buena Vista to warm up with an Irish coffee. Maybe you didn’t know that Irish coffee was invented in San Francisco at the Buena Vista on a cold November evening in 1952.  Jack Koeppler, who owned the Buena Vista, challenged Stanton Delaplane (a travel writer)  to help re-create a much beloved “Irish Coffee” served at Shannon Airport in Ireland. And the experiment that ended with this plaque began.

BV plaq

Fast forward to the future: We stopped in on a warm August day, not to warm chilled bones, but to enjoy a San Francisco institution with our nephew. And enjoy, we did.  Now that winter’s approaching and the weather is a bit chilly, I thought it might be time to share the traditional Irish coffee recipe. It’ll come in handy after a long day of skiing or ice-skating. Does anyone ice-skate any more?  Anyway, here’s the authentic BV recipe for your winter enjoyment:


Warm the glass

by filling it with hot water. If you don’t have the right glass, use a seven-ounce coffee cup.

Add hot coffee, sugar cubes, Irish whiskey

Works just as well. Empty the water out and fill the cup with hot coffee, about 3/4 full.  Drop in two sugar cubes and stir until they’re dissolved.  Then, add a jigger of Irish whiskey. Don’t stint!


Top with whipped cream

You’ve already lightly whipped some heavy whipping cream, so top the glass or mug with the cream, pouring it over the hot spoon you just used. Some say you should pour it over the back of the spoon but that’s not what the BV bartender is doing.

And for heaven’s sake DO NOT STIR! Irish coffee is meant to be enjoyed by sipping it THROUGH the collar of cream.  Don’t let it cool, either. It’s best when piping hot.

BV4It’s delicious, and a perfect winter cocktail. Have one!

Here’s the story if you’d like to read more about how the drink was invented.

22 comments on “Irish coffee warms body and soul
  1. So, the first Irish Whiskey I ever had was on a TWA flight, when one of (my then) favorite stewardesses proffered me one. I had no idea the US version came from San Francisco. I’ll have to check the place out on my next visit.
    Thanks for the info!

  2. Stacia Friedman says:

    Is it cheating if I use Khalua, Amoretto or Frau Angelico? Or how about if I use hot chocolate instead of coffee? Obviously, I have a sweet tooth!

  3. Angie says:

    Mmmm. So perfect for a winter morning.

  4. Laurel Regan says:

    Sounds like the perfect accompaniment to a cold winter day. Thanks for the recipe – loved hearing the history of how this drink was introduced to the US!

  5. A perfect drink for a cold winter day. Loved learning the back story too.

  6. Mmm, sounds perfect for those cold, fall/winter days!

  7. Not just because my last name is Coffee, but Irish Coffee is one of my favs, especially with some Bailey’s Irish Cream in it. Yum! xoxox, Brenda

  8. Epic timing and a wonderful story! Our son Nick moved to San Francisco in August for his first “real” job after UCLA. Now that the weather is cooler we talked about him going to the BV and how much history was there etc… He went last night! Your Buena Vista vibes were reaching out at the same time. We are going to visit him in December, guess where we will go?

  9. I didn’t know that Irish coffee was invented in San Francisco. It was my “go to” favorite in Irish pubs while listening to music in the Republic of Ireland. Admittedly, most people were drinking beer or Guinness, but no one looked at me askance when I asked for Irish coffee—-or even decaf Irish coffee.

  10. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    I confess I have never had an Irish Whiskey, but now you have inspired me to try one. It sounds delish.

  11. Rachel says:

    I love the Buena Vista! I was there recently… can’t wait to go back. 🙂

  12. Mary says:

    Thanks for the Irish Wiskey history lesson, I had no idea. You have made me want to visit San Francisco soon. Thank you for the recipe on exactly how to make an authentic one, I’ll be making one tonight.

  13. What a perfect recipe to read as I sit here all wrapped up in a blanket watching the first, real snowfall of 2017. I had no idea the first was made in San Francisco!
    I am not a coffee drinker (hot chocolate and Amaretta for me) but I do enjoy making Irish coffees for my family and guests.
    Happy New Year to you!

  14. Donna says:

    Yum! Thanks for sharing both the history and the recipe. I can’t wait to give this a try!

  15. Janis says:

    I love Buena Vista. It’s one of those touristy places that is every bit as good as its hype. Two Irish coffees and I’m done.

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