Jan 25

Irish Coffee – Two Inventors?

When you eat your way through a foodie town like San Francisco, you need to take a break. Step out of the cold misty air and recharge for the evening activities. You can do that with a world-famous Irish Coffee from The Buena Vista Café. So warming and so rejuvenating.

Irish Coffee

Irish Coffee

I loved hearing the story of how the original saloon warmed and rejuvenated fisherman before going back to the work on the boats, and how tourists braved the Hyde St. hill to do the same.

Years later I went to Ireland. It was a drive trip so we could stop when and where we wanted. We made our way along narrow roads lined with rock walls on one side and cliffs on the other. Navigating the western shores of Ireland, on the “wrong” side of the road required a team effort. Our driver focused on the cliff side while I provided rock wall proximity reports. Our objective was Foynes, a seaport in Limerick County, and the aviation museum in the town. Foynes claim to fame was having been the airport for the first transatlantic flights, between Europe and New York, operated by Pan Am airlines. We were going to see flying boat replicas and other memorabilia. During World War II, it was one of the largest civilian airports. Charles Lindbergh flew flying boats from there. I also learned something else from our guide.

She told us the story of how cold, weary passengers waited for the often stormy weather over the North Atlantic to be clear enough to fly. The café at this airstrip had developed, and named, the first Irish Coffee in the early days of commercial aviation. I questioned her about The Buena Vista Café. She explained what is now recognized as the roles both cities played. Then and today, the coffee warms the travelers and the whiskey makes them happy!

It may not be important who played the bigger role in the popularity of an Irish Coffee. It’s only important that you have one, at either location.


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  1. ann

    I like the story you presented. I move from site to site looking for new travel stories so I can make it a point of trying something different. You should check out the Top 100 Travel Blogs.

  2. Meatball

    Thanks, I will take a look at the Top 100 Travel Blogs

  3. Jared

    This write-up compelled me to go and get an Irish Coffee. Thanks, very nice article.

  4. Rosetta

    I love your stories.

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