Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Make Me an Irish Coffee

It’s early Thursday morning near the fog-shrouded piers of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. After walking for 20 minutes in the chilly morning air, The Buena Vista Café and its legendary Irish coffee beckon me. When I order the signature beverage my server simply says, “Make me one.”

Legend has it that in November 1952, then-owner of the cafe, Jack Koeppler, and international travel writer, Stanton Deleplane, tried to re-create the popular beverage served at Shannon Airport in Ireland, without much success. But Koeppler was so determined that he visited the Airport to taste the real thing and, many tastings later, he nailed the legendary coffee and whiskey mixture, while a local dairy owner helped him recreate the foam.

As the fog thins, cable cars spring to life, cars douse their headlights and dedicated cyclists challenge the city's famed hills. The foam on my Irish coffee lasts for more than 20 minutes in its special six-ounce glass – enough time to make a major dent in a steaming plate of Crab Benedict. It's worth $7.50 to taste a bit of history with my meal.