The history of this infamous drink begins in County Clare, Ireland, where a young restaurateur named Joe Sheridan served up the first Irish coffee. "That’s where it all started," said Michael Carden, General Manager of the Buena Vista Café in San Francisco.
Carden, an authority on the Irish drink, has been managing the legendary Buena Vista for several years and says his staff serves more than 500,000 Irish coffees a year. "It’s been said that we’re the largest consumer of Irish whiskey in America. On any given Friday night we might serve two or three thousand coffees."
Irish coffee was introduced in America after World War II when former Buena Vista owner Jack Koeppler and travel writer Stan Delaplane brought back the recipe from the Foynes Restaurant in Shannon, Ireland, where Joe Sheridan worked.
"It was late at night when a plane of weary travelers arrived," Carden recounted. "Joe was going to serve them all regular coffee, but decided to add whiskey and whipped cream to warm them up a little."
Although the recipe at the Buena Vista is well guarded, Carden did say it can only be made with fresh brewed coffee, smooth Irish whiskey and fresh whipped cream.
"We’ve experimented with the recipe," Carden said. "And tried variations of sugar, coffee, whiskey, espresso and cream. And the original recipe is the best - I mean people have been coming here since 1952 to get it."
This traditional Irish drink has taken some interesting turns along the way. At Molly’s on the Market in New Orleans, proprietor Jim Monaghan, Jr. serves up a frozen Irish coffee to combat the insufferable heat and humidity on the bayou.
"Our frozen Irish coffee is a real mainstay here at Molly’s," Monaghan said. "People from all around the world come looking for it." Monaghan, whose father came up with the recipe almost 20 years ago, said it’s the perfect drink when it’s hot outside. "I think my father dreamt it up when he was half asleep. He must have been looking for something to wake him up and get a good buzz on."
Like Carden, Monaghan would not give up his recipe for this delicious Irish drink, so here’s an educated guess at what makes this drink so special.
Traditional Irish coffee
Pour freshly brewed coffee into a pre-heated Irish coffee mug like our Stout, Nouveau, or Classic styles. Then drop three cocktail sugar cubes from your Stainless Steel Sugar Bowl into the coffee and stir with a Latte Macchiato Spoon. Once the sugar is thoroughly dissolved, add a shot of Irish whiskey measured in a 2 oz shot glass for proper taste and body. Using our latte macchiato spoon, pour whipped cream gently over the top of the coffee mixture - similar to making a Black & Tan. Enjoy while piping hot!
Images courtesy of drippinglotus.com and kraftfoods.com
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