Celebrate National Irish Coffee Day with a story of how this drink came to be. Long before the days of lattes, cappuccinos and espressos, there was Irish coffee. To this day Irish coffee is a crowd favorite as an after-dinner drink. But if it wasn’t for an American traveler, Irish coffee would never have come to be what it is today.
In 1943, chef and bartender Joe Sheridan was the head chef at a new restaurant in Foynes airport. Back then, Foynes was the only Irish transatlantic airport where Pan Am flying boats were based. One night, a flight to New York had to turn back due to bad weather. The flight crew asked Sheridan to prepare hot food and drinks for the passengers. He decided to put some Irish whiskey in their drinks and top them with fresh cream. As the story goes, one American passenger asked, “Is this Brazilian coffee?” Sheridan replied, “No, that’s Irish coffee.”
Irish coffee was a popular drink for frequent fliers to Foynes. In 1951, American travel writer Stanton Delaplane tried the drink for the first time and fell in love. He returned to San Francisco and spent days with the owners of Buena Vista Café trying to recreate the drink. The most challenging part was figuring how to properly float the cream on top. Never perfecting the drink, the owners knew it was best to offer to Sheridan a position at Buena Vista Café. The café soon became the most popular café in San Francisco. Now Buena Vista Cafe yields almost 2,000 Irish coffees every day!
Over 70 years later, the Irish coffee is still a favorite all around the world. If you are feeling adventurous, fly to San Francisco and celebrate Irish Coffee Day at the bar where the drink became famous. For the rest of us, here’s the classic recipe for Irish coffee thanks to Old Tom Horan Irish Whiskey.
6 oz Freshly Brewed Coffee
1 tsp Brown Sugar
1 ½ oz Old Tom Horan Irish Whiskey
Combine coffee, brown sugar and whiskey, mixing until sugar is dissolved. Garnish with whipped cream and enjoy!