January 25th is National Irish Coffee Day. I was initially thinking we could knock this one out early – coffee is a breakfast drink, after all – but the whiskey (a key ingredient in Irish coffee) made this more of an after-work splurge. Which was fine, as we were going out anyway. On Friday evenings, we like to be in close proximity to a bar. Some bar. Any bar. Getting an Irish coffee would not be a problem.
Irish coffee was invented in 1942 by Joe Sheridan, a bartender at Foynes Air Base in Ireland. A Pan Am flight landed there one miserably cold winter evening, after a long eighteen-hour journey across the Atlantic Ocean. The passengers disembarked and headed for the bar. In an effort to warm them up, Sheridan brewed hot coffee, added a splash of whiskey, and topped it with a dollop of cream. One of the passengers asked, “Is this Brazilian coffee?” Sheridan laughed and replied, “No, it’s Irish coffee.” A decade later Stanton Delaplane, a travel writer for the San Francisco Chronicle, brought Irish coffee to the U.S. after tasting it at the same airport during a trip abroad. Sadly, customs agents confiscated the pair of leprechauns he tried to sneak through. Delaplane nearly drank himself into a coma trying to figure out how to get the cream to float on top of the coffee over the next few months; finally a dairy farmer came to the rescue by suggesting the cream would be more likely to float if it were aged 48 hours first. Voila! Delaplane then introduced the drink to the Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco, and popularized it in the U.S. by mentioning it frequently in his column.
When asked for the original recipe, Sheridan replied, “Cream as rich as an Irish brogue; coffee as strong as a friendly hand; sugar sweet as the tongue of a rogue; and whiskey smooth as the wit of the land.”
Oh, those wacky Irish. Faith and begorrah, you’ve gotta love ’em. Clearly, Sheridan missed his calling as a poet.
Tara and I met up at Cactus Ya Ya in Vancouver after work for cocktails and dinner. Interesting fusion of Mexican and Asian food here. They’ve been around for at least 15 years, so it must be working for ’em! The important thing was, they had Irish coffee. Remember those hot toddies we weren’t so fond of a couple of weeks ago? Let’s just say the Irish coffee was STRONG. And hot. We could only manage a few sips each. But hey…mission accomplished!