GEORGE found himself with a six-hour layover at the San Francisco International Airport on his way to Poland to explore the wonders of Polish vodka. In need of nourishment and liquid refreshment, he landed upon a bar stool at the Buena Vista, conveniently located in the United Airlines section of the terminal next to his departing gate. Noticing a long line of oddly-shaped glasses running along the bar counter, he inquired about them to the bartender.
“No, they were first served at the Shannon Airport in Ireland, but to really understand the Irish Coffee you need to visit our restaurant at Fisherman’s Wharf.”
Feeling a little hungry, George asked for the barman’s recommendation on the menu.
“Go for the corned beef hash with soft boiled eggs; goes great with the Irish Coffee.” He was not lying. The hash was crispy yet tender and the eggs were cooked perfectly.
“Another Irish Coffee, please,” George requested, as he finished up. Then with still more than four hours until his flight departed, he decided to grab a cab and head to the original Buena Vista at Fisherman’s Wharf.
George did not need to be told twice and quickly ordered up the famous tipple. “Yummy,” he said. “Were they invented here?” Walking into the bustling bar, George knew he was in a very special place. As he grabbed one of the few remaining barstools, he immediately recognized the now familiar row of Irish Coffee glasses waiting their turn to house the steaming mixture of coffee, sugar, Irish whiskey, and hand-whipped cream. Getting the bartender’s attention, he ordered his Irish Coffee and introduced himself. It turned out that the gentleman behind the stick was 2003 World Irish Coffee Making Champion, Frank Silletti. Frank told him the story of the Irish Coffee being created by Joe Sheridan, a bartender at Ireland’s Shannon Airport. And how in 1952 the Irish Coffee found its way to the United States via travel writer Stanton Delaplane. He shared the recipe with Jack Koeppler, then owner of the Buena Vista Café, where today they serve some 2000 Irish Coffees every day. He told George that the secret to a great Irish Coffee is using the right whiskey (they use Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey), strong coffee, heavy cream whipped just right, and then serving it in the proper vessel, the classic six-ounce goblet used exclusively at the Buena Vista.
George had one more before thanking Frank for his hospitality and heading back to SFO with a newfound love and appreciation for the legendary libation. Walking toward his gate, he hoped he would have time to enjoy one last Irish Coffee before departing on the long flight to Poland.
1 ½ oz Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey
2 sugar cubes
Strong brewed coffee
Freshly whipped cream
In a heated Irish Coffee glass, add sugar cubes and dissolve in approx 3 oz. of hot coffee. Add Irish whiskey and top with a collar of freshly whipped cream.
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