The Buena Vista


The Buena Vista Cafe
2765 Hyde Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
Tel: 415 474 5044


  • A bartender who's poured 3-4 million coffees in his 32 years at the Buena Vista shows how it's done.
  • Nearby: Sideshow of wondrous antique coin-operated instruments and oddities at the Musee Mecanique

San Francisco, CA: Home of America's favorite Irish immigrant

The Buena Vista

There's no shortage of reasons to order Irish coffee at the Buena Vista Cafe, a 1916 saloon near Fisherman's Wharf.

It's where the drink was first mixed on American soil (reason no. 1). On the night of November 10, 1952, the cafe's then-owner challenged San Francisco Chronicle travel writer Stanton Delaplane (no. 2, for the awesome name and fashion sense alone) to recreate the Irish coffee he'd just sipped at Dublin's Shannon Airport. The pair stayed up all night, exshperimenting to get the mixsh jusht right.

Many hangovers, reconnaissance trips to Shannon Airport (just to drink—no. 3) and years later, they nailed it.

The BV now pours upwards of 2000 Irish coffees a day, in 50-glass flights, using about 19,000 liters of booze a year, making it the largest single consumer of Irish whiskey in the U.S. Some say there's more whiskey drunk here than in all of Ireland (no. 4, but come on, really?).

But the best reason is that for a little more money, the bartender will fill a cup with freshly-brewed coffee, sugar and whipped heavy cream (aged 48 hours so it floats just right), hand it to you with a sealed nip of whiskey, and voila: Irish coffee to go (no. 6).

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