The Buena Vista Cafe, San Francisco


At the bar in front of me a dozen six-ounce, inverted pear shaped footed goblets stood ready to receive the Buena Vista Café’s crown jewel: the Irish Coffee. Invented in 1952 by a collaborative effort between Jack Koeppler, the BV’s owner, and Stanton Delaplane, a well-known international travel writer, today’s Irish Coffee is pretty much the same as the original. The official story tells of the perseverance and repeated attempts of Jack and Stanton, and even a trip to Shannon Airport, where a forerunner of Jack’s vision was served. The whipped cream posed a problem, and the input of a prominent dairy farmer turned Mayor of San Francisco, solved the problem: age the cream for 48 hours and froth it to a precise consistency so it would float on top of the hot coffee, to Jack’s specifications.

The view from the Buena Vista Café takes in the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Alcatraz Island, street vendors, the restored brick buildings of Ghirardelli Square, and the magnificent 1886 square-rigger, Balclutha, with its three tall masts.

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