New and Venerable Institutions: Buena Vista Cafe

2765 Hyde Street
You'd certainly have to file this one under "Venerable," and not "New," since the Buena Vista Cafe has been in business since 1898! The world-renowned venue at Hyde and Beach Streets is built on the site of the first Native American settlement in Yerba Buena. The BV operated as a saloon for more than half a century before Irish Coffee put them on the map. In 1952, on behalf of the BV, San Francisco writer Stanton Delaplane recreated the Irish Coffee served at Ireland's Shannon Airport. Delaplane and then-owner of the BV, Jack Koeppler, experimented extensively to copy the sumptuous beverage. After much trial and error they discovered that cream, aged for 48 hours then precisely whipped, would ride the surface of the drink like a swan. The toddy was complete! Fifty years later the cafe remains famous for its Irish Coffee. So popular that it's almost always packed, the BV is one place even the most tourist phobic San Franciscan will seek out every so often. It only takes a sip to find out why.

Detail I
Detail II

Extra!! Choose the link to see San Franciscan Frank Siletti recreate his winning entry in the 2003 World Irish Coffee Championship (Foynes, Ireland) at the Buena Vista (September 7, 2003).

Irish Coffee
3 cocktail sugar cubes
Black coffee, hot
1 1/4 oz. of Irish whiskey
Whipped cream

Place 3 sugar cubes in a warmed, 6-oz. glass. Fill glass 3/4 full with coffee. To avoid breakage, pour the hot coffee over a metal spoon in the glass. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add 1 1/4 oz. whiskey. Stir well. Top with swirl of whipped cream.


Copyright 2001 Hank Donat home