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Happy Irish Coffee Day From The Buena Vista

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Let’s celebrate with an Irish Coffee from The Buena Vista.

I featured this cocktail, if that’s the right word, yesterday on The Back Burner. Which is the blog I contribute to at Key Ingredient. In researching that post I got in contact with Larry Nolan at The Buena Vista and he gave me permission to reprint much of text and photos you see below. It was so generous of him that I decided I should present the story of the Irish Coffee here at Sipiity Sup as well.

Irish Coffee

The story of how the Irish Coffee came to be associated with The Buena Vista in San Francisco is very interesting. But it was not invented there. In fact it’s authentically Irish, and indeed the second most famous alcoholic import from that Emerald Isle– just behind Guinness. But when it comes to the United States of America, it’s hard to beat an Irish Coffee from The Buena Vista on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. Especially after you know the history.

But if you’ve never had the pleasure of this uniquely San Franciscan treat, then I think today will prove enlightening. I am hoping that this post and video, with words and photos straight from the source, will help you understand the draw of this classic cocktail and the allure of standing shoulder to shoulder in an iconic spot, experiencing a wee-bit of Irish American history. So just in time for St. Patrick’s Day, here is how the phenomenon got its start in America. GREG

Buena Vista Irish CoffeeThe historic venture started on the night of November the 10th in 1952. Jack Koeppler, then-owner of the Buena Vista, challenged international travel writer Stanton Delaplane to help re-create a highly touted “Irish Coffee” served at Shannon Airport in Ireland. Intrigued, Stan Accepted Jack’s invitation, and the pair began to experiment immediately.

Throughout the night the two of them stirred and sipped judiciously and eventually acknowledged two recurring problems. The taste was “not quite right,” and the cream would not float. Stan’s hopes sank like the cream, but Jack was undaunted. The restaurateur pursued the elusive elixir with religious fervor, even making a pilgrimage overseas to Shannon Airport.

Upon Jack’s return, the experimentation continued. Finally, the perfect-tasting Irish whiskey was selected. Then the problem of the bottom-bent cream was taken to San Francisco’s mayor, a prominent dairy owner. It was discovered that when the cream was aged for 48 hours and frothed to a precise consistency, it would float as delicately as a swan on the surface of Jack’s and Stan’s special nectar.

Success was theirs! With the recipe now mastered, a sparkling clear, six-ounce, heat-treated goblet was chosen as a suitable chalice.

Soon the fame of the Buena Vista’s Irish Coffee spread throughout the land. Today, it’s still the same delicious mixture, and it’s still the same clamorous, cosmopolitan Buena Vista. Both…delightful experiences.

Photos and text used with permission from The Buena Vista, San Fransisco as well as my podcast partner Nathan, from The Chocolate of Meats.

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Greg Henry writes the food blog Sippity Sup- Serious Fun Food, and contributes the Friday column on entertaining for The Back Burner at Key Ingredient. He’s active in the food blogging community, and a popular speaker at IFBC, Food Buzz Festival and Camp Blogaway. He’s led cooking demonstrations in PanamaCosta Rica, and has traveled as far and wide as Norway to promote culinary travel. He’s been featured in Food & Wine Magazine, Los Angeles Times, More Magazine, The Today Show Online and Saveur’s Best of the Web. Greg also co-hosts The Table Set podcast which can be downloaded on iTunes or at Homefries Podcast Network.

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