Once you’ve experienced it, there’s no going back. The perfect Irish Coffee. Leave it to the Irish to figure out how to add rich whiskey to piping hot coffee, top it off with freshly whipped cream, and create the ultimate any-time-of-the-day drink!
I was first introduced to this breakfast/dinner/dessert drink when we took an amazing weekend trip to San Francisco last year. One of the most rewarding aspects of travel is that it exposes you to new experiences and opens your eyes to a whole new world… literally.
San Francisco offers so many wonderful sights, events, activities, architecture, and of course the food and drink are up there with the best around the world. There’s China Town, Fisherman’s Wharf , and even the Mission District – all offering a massive variety of world-class food. We had decadent lobster, authentic Hunan chicken, crispy rolled tacos, sloppy street-side hot dogs, luscious desserts, and savory prime rib. But the one pleasure that kept calling us back was the Irish Coffee.
It turns out Irish Coffee was first introduced to the United States at the quaint and historical Buena Vista Cafe back in 1952. (The Buena Vista originally opened in 1916 as a saloon.) The Buena Vista owner challenged travel writer, Stanton Delaplane, to help him create the luxurious, creamy, slightly sweet Irish Coffee laced with whiskey that he had once had at the Shannon Airport in Ireland. They tested, sampled, and drank their way to near unconsciousness until they perfected the recipe (now that’s dedication!).
Having heard this story, The Buena Vista was one of our first (and last, and in between) stops. We made a point of sitting at the counter where the kind, knowledgeable, 80+ year old gentle Asian soul who had been working there for four decades made up coffee after coffee after coffee…
He could make two dozen in about 30 seconds. He knew everything about The Buena Vista’s famous Irish Coffee, including the secrets to the recipe. So we watched him in awe as we sipped our heart-warming cup of Heaven. We got him talking. He divulged his secrets.
And I now know how to make that all elusive perfect Irish Coffee. It requires coffee that’s not too weak, but not too bitter, sugar (two cubes – no more, no less), authentic Irish Tullamore D.E.W. whiskey, and perfectly whipped (but not sweetened) cream spooned on top. Aaahhhh perfection!
We have since traveled to many other world-acclaimed places, always searching for that familiar feeling of my very first authentic Irish Coffee, and have yet to find one that comes close. I’ve come to learn there are only two places (aside from Ireland) to get the classic – The Buena Vista and in your kitchen… if you follow this recipe. And why wouldn’t you? It’s a warm, aromatic cupful of magic! You’re welcome…
Oh… And check out this video to it in action! Easy Peasy!
In Search of the Perfect Irish Coffee
You don't need to search anymore. Here's it is - the Perfect Irish Coffee
- 16 Ounces Hot Brewed Coffee
- 4 Sugar Cubes
- 3 Ounces Irish Whiskey
- 4 Ounces Heavy Cream, Whipped to very soft peaks
- Fill coffee mugs or glasses with hot water for a couple minutes to warm them up. Then dump out the water.
- Pour 8 ounces of hot coffee into each mug. Add two sugar cubes to each and stir to dissolve. Add one shot (1 1/2 ounces) of Irish Whiskey (I use Tillamore Dew).
- Whip cream to very soft peaks with a frother (shown above) or a hand held blender. Carefully spoon the whipped cream on top of the hot coffee. Sit back and enjoy! (But you might want to take a picture first...)