Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | July 19, 2011

Saving the Irish Coffee with Glassware

Legendary political reporter Warren Hinckle recently had a piece in the San Francisco Chronicle about the demise and rebirth of one of San Francisco’s classic cocktails: the Irish Coffee. Apparently due to a supplier ceasing to make the traditional glassware, there had been a decline in the ability of local establishments to serve it. The main purveyor, Buena Vista Cafe, had switched their supplier from a company in Ohio to China, with the plans to resell the Chinese glasses of lower quality to other Bay Area restaurants. Unfortunately the Chinese glassware was no substitute and in San Francisco, the glassware makes this cocktail. Fortunately the original purveyor of 6 ounce Georgian Irish Coffee glasses, Libbey Glass Company, was convinced to re-start production (at a great cost) so the city could continue to serve proper Irish Coffees in their proper glasses.

The whole article is an interesting read and I recommend you check it out yourself. In the mean time, here’s a recipe for a San Francisco-style Irish Coffee:

Irish Coffee
6 ounces brewed coffee
2 sugar cubes
1 1/2 ounces Irish whiskey
heavy cream, lightly whipped

Fill glass with very hot water to pre-heat, then empty. Pour hot coffee into hot glass until it is about three-quarters full. Drop in two cocktail sugar cubes. Stir until the sugar is thoroughly dissolved. Add full jigger of Irish Whiskey for proper taste and body. Top with a collar of whipped cream by pouring gently over a spoon. Enjoy it while piping hot.



  1. I just want to note, that if you read Hinckle’s first article (…”legendary political reporter”!? I would go with “Poor Man’s Hunter S. Thompson”…) Uh, anyway, if you read the first article you will discover that Libbey originally called the glass a “Gin Fizz Glass”, which I think is far more interesting!

    • Good point Erik. That is pretty interesting. It also is a glass that is quite similar to what I had a lot in Chile for Pisco Sours.

      In terms of Hunter S. Thompson, Hinckle was his editor for a while at Scanlan’s and they worked together some after it folded. Hinckle has a book on Thompson, though I haven’t read it.

  2. In 40+ years of drinking I’ve never had an Irish coffee in a glass that didn’t have a handle!

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