The Origins of the Irish coffee
Updated: Mar 29
Probably the most famous hot cocktail being served globally today. Known by everyone but usually quite disappointing & a drink when ordered that makes most bartenders shudder. All that fatty & messy cream that they try to combine separately with hot coffee as well as keeping if fluffy is just a nightmare for 90% of bartenders out there. That being said where does this drink actually come from?
Cocktails For You visited San Francisco in the last few years to the infamous Buena Vista Cafe by the wharf & pondered over a few of these delicious beverages where did it actually come from?
The bartenders are lightning fast & said they regularly make around 2,000 Irish coffees per day on average. There are bars I know that don't even serve that many drinks per day let alone cocktails with both a hot & a cold component. Not everyone on our channel agrees with the methodology of the bartender in the video BUT trust me & I am willing to bet my reputation on this - The Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco serves one of the best Irish coffees in the world for the size of the venue & the speed of service.
What are the origins of the Irish coffee? Here comes in a particular lad called Joe Sheridan. A chef & bartender working at the Flying Boat Terminal based at Foynes, Ireland. Apparently in 1943, due to bad weather, a plane was re-routed to land in Foynes & Joe was called in to feed & warm the passengers. Nothing warms a cold body & heart than some hearty Irish Whiskey & this is exactly what Joe used when he added it to the coffee for the guests.
What happened next is almost a Hollywood movie! In 1951, Stanton Delaplane, a reporter for The San Francisco Chronicle, sampled Sheridan's Irish Coffee at Foynes Airport. The reporter flew home to the US & introduced the drink to the owners of The Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco. They finalised a recipe, the drink blew up & hundreds came to the bar to try this trendy new concoction. Then Sheridan was offered a job at The Buena Vista settled into San Francisco & according to rumours . At a time when there was no internet, TV or blogs that promoted these kind of things it absolutely amazing that this turn of events worked out this way. That's him in a hat in the photo below:
On the other hand...
"That's the most widely accepted version," said Eric Felten, author of "How's Your Drink?" and a former drink columnist for the Wall Street Journal. But Felten has two problems with it. First & foremost how do we know Joe Sheridan actually made that drink to warm up passengers? Is there any evidence of this? Secondly a Harvard professor of Irish Studies argues that cream and sugar were usually added to disguise the taste of coffee(definitely of bad quality) during World War II & this is more likely than being used to warm up passengers. Regardless it can be attributed that from airports like Foynes the Irish coffee spread around the world & made it's way to the US through travellers like Delaplane.
Secondly, there's factual evidence that the Irish coffee had already made it's way to theThe first instance I can find of the Irish coffee coming to the U.S. is the food critic for the New York Herald Tribune, named Clementine Paddleford. For her St. Patrick’s Day column in 1948.
They say never let truth get in the way of a good story & as a result I wouldn't want to dive any deeper. No one wants to be a buzz killington! So to part our ways here's the recipe of the Irish coffee served at arguably the WORLDS GREATEST IRISH PUB - The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog in New York City: