Pan Am has a strong history with the land o’ the lucky starting with service to Shannon, Ireland. Pan Am continued flying to Ireland for years, we thought it would only be fitting to tell the story of the origin of “Irish Coffee”. Enjoy!
Although a highly contested subject of lore and tales, the origin of true “Irish Coffee” stems from a cold damp night in the Foynes Airport near Limerick, Ireland. Pan Am started flying seaplanes to Ireland with Flying Clipper Service. It was at the Foynes Airfield that this story takes it roots.
After a blustery and tumultuous trip through the skies, weary passengers were shuttled into the Foynes Airport restaurant to warm up. Chef Joe Sheridan decided to serve them standard coffee…with a twist. It seems a shot of Irish whiskey was added to the mix to help heat up the weary souls. It must have worked. When one of the passengers asked if they were served “Brazilian Coffee”, Chef Sheridan responded jokingly “No, that was Irish coffee”.
Passengers and pilots alike were treated to the special mix from then on. This little gem of a drink was a special in the airport and was only imported into the states in 1952.
The historic venture started in 1952 on the night of November the 10th. Jack Koeppler, then-owner of the Buena Vista, challenged international travel writer Stanton Delaplane to help re-create a highly touted "Irish Coffee" served at Shannon Airport in Ireland. Intrigued, Stan accepted Jack’s invitation, and the pair began to experiment immediately.
Throughout the night the two of them stirred and sipped judiciously and eventually acknowledged two recurring problems. The taste was "not quite right," and the cream would not float. Stan’s hopes sank like the cream, but Jack was undaunted. The restaurateur pursued the elusive elixir with religious fervor, even making a pilgrimage overseas to Shannon Airport.
Upon Jack’s return, the experimentation continued. Finally, the perfect-tasting Irish whiskey was selected. Then the problem of the bottom-bent cream was taken to San Francisco’s mayor, a prominent dairy owner. It was discovered that when the cream was aged for 48 hours and frothed to a precise consistency, it would float as delicately as a swan on the surface of Jack and Stan’s special nectar.
Success was theirs! With the recipe now mastered, a sparkling clear, six-ounce, heat-treated goblet was chosen as a suitable chalice.
Soon the fame of the Buena Vista’s “Irish Coffee” spread throughout the land.
To make your own Irish Coffee, try following this recipe and see if you have better luck than the Irish!
Visit these interesting links for more on Irish coffee knowledge and trivia, we did!