Tag Archives: whiskey

#ElCafeDe2013 Coffee tip of the week: Sometimes, Go Irish!

It’s Happy Hour. It’s the end of the traditional work day or well into the day of roaming and traveling about. Why not mix up the coffee drinking by…

… #Tip 2: Going Irish! Adding some whiskey to that brew.

There is no better place to do that then Buena Vista in San Francisco, the American home of the Irish coffee!

Irish Coffee, Buena Vista, San Francisco, California

The Irish coffee at Logan’s Irish Pub in Findlay, Ohio definitely hits the spot too. 🙂

Irish Coffee, Logan's Irish Pub, Findlay, Ohio

Go Irish! Well maybe not the University of Notre Dame kind, haha. I cheer the green and white of Michigan State.

San Francisco: Getting “The” Irish Coffee.

I’m going to San Francisco! As soon as the trip became a reality what was the first thing that came to mind? The Buena Vista Cafe and their Irish Coffee. Low and behold soon after arrival, I saw this sign up close at the corner of Hyde and Beach Streets.

San Francisco - The Buena Vista Cafe - Fisherman's Wharf - Irish Coffee

The Buena Vista has roots on this corner back to 1916 when it opened as a saloon. Buena Vista in Spanish means “Good View” which definitely applies as it sits within Fisherman’s Wharf and across the street from where people get on the famed cable cars and go up the steep hills to Lombard Street and points beyond.

Naturally it was crowded inside. I found a spot as far away from the bar as one could get. 😦 No matter Irish coffee deliciousness awaits.

San Francisco - The Buena Vista Cafe - Irish Coffee

Great memories brought me here as well, having enjoyed many fun times growing up. I remember watching them make the Irish Coffee, though when young, I didn’t grasp the Irish part haha. Just the pouring of the coffee helped lead the way to where I am today, lot’s of coffee consumption and time watching them make it from to many coffeehouses to count.

San Francisco - The Buena Vista Cafe - Irish Coffee

Getting a closer shot of the bar I watched the whole process unfold. With the empty glasses lined up, they first put a couple of sugar cubes in the bottom of each glass and then poured in the hot, black coffee. Next they quickly dragged the Irish whiskey bottle across them and topped each with a little creamy froth.

I heard they make 1000’s of these a day and more whiskey is consumed here on a year-by-year basis then anywhere else in the United States. They currently use Tillamore Dew Irish whiskey.

While watching the process, I realized one of those was mine! There it is.

San Francisco - The Buena Vista Cafe - Irish Coffee

I was back at a place of my youth consuming something I remember seeing everyone else drink. Their Irish Coffee making goes back to 1952 and has become an icon in the city of San Francisco and known to some, include me, around the country as “The” Irish Coffee.

I’d been there before as an adult, but I wasn’t that much into whiskey so I passed. What could have I been thinking. Between liking whiskey more, becoming a lover of coffee and wanting to rekindle memories of youth, The Buena Vista was a must stop on this trip. If I could only get my hands on a world record sized Irish Coffee haha. 🙂

The top item on my San Francisco to-do list was checking off and hopefully one day you can check this place off of yours. Checkout their website and story.

Any must stops  for Irish Coffee that you’ve come across in your travels? Where are some of your go-to places for eats and drinks in San Francisco?

Ontario: A Canadian Club Whiskey Love Affair is Born.

Over time I’ve taken a liking to whiskey. Whether it be an Irish Whiskey at Buena Vista in San Francisco, a shot of Jamison at the local bar or grabbing a Jack and Coke or two before a flight, I enjoy the flavor, after taste and there is something relaxing about it.

I had the chance on a recent afternoon to visit a brand of whiskey with which I wasn’t that familiar, C. C. Canadian Club. I secured a free pass and toured one of the more well-known and historical makers of spirits and whiskey. Canadian Club headquarters and distillery are in Windsor (Walkerville), Ontario, Canada.

Canadian Club Whiskey, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Each room we toured was full of so much history and the tour guide did a great job describing since the beginning everything that has made Canadian Club what it is today.

They were founded in 1858 by Hiram Walker. They produce whiskey for over 150 countries from all over the world, with different labels, styles of bottles, proof levels and drinks to fit the culture and rules of each. For example in Australia and New Zealand you can buy Canadian Club Dry pre-made, mixed with ginger ale or coca-cola in a four-pack.

Canadian Club Whiskey, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

They had an enclosed display case with samples of the products they sell in various countries.

Canadian Club Whiskey, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

The original Canadian Club bottle shown below is displayed in Hiram’s original office. Originally called Club Whiskey, it became wildly popular in the United States and started to hinder state-wide sales. As a result, as legend says, in the late 1800’s the US government forced them and all to put the country of origin on their bottles, thus Canadian Club was born. The government thought this would hurt their popularity in the states, boy were they wrong!

Around the same time the town of Walkerville was founded by Hiram Walker. It was home to the workers of the distillery. The neighborhood has since been rolled into Windsor.

Canadian Club Whiskey, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Prohibition hit the United States in 1920 and for thirteen years it was illegal to manufacture, sell or consume beveraged alcohol. This wasn’t the case in Canada. In the basement is a meeting room shown below where business is conducted quietly and privately. The speakeasy they call it. Canadian Club was the largest distiller and most popular brand at that time, thus gangsters conducted business in the speakeasy regularly.

Smuggling took place on the Great Lakes and the Detroit River. Numerous techniques were used to try to get across undetected. Driving across at night in the winter for instance. People dropped bottles in the river and later tried to retrieve them. Failed attempts resulted in bottles hitting the rivers floor. There are thought to be thousands of bottles at the bottom of the Detroit River today.

Canadian Club Whiskey, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

A famous smuggler, Bill McCoy helped get Canadian Club into the states. There were lot’s of counterfeiters at that time. but Bill McCoy sold the real stuff. When customers were looking for the real stuff, the term “The Real McCoy” came about.

At the end of tour, was the part me and everyone else I’m sure was looking forward to, taste testing! We got four whiskey samples from left to right:

  • Canadian Club Premium – a smooth and light taste
  • Canadian Club Classic 12 yr – full and smooth
  • Canadian Club Sherry Cask – a rich, full and rounded taste
  • Canadian Club Dock #57 – a full, rounded and fruity taste. My favorite.

Canadian Club Whiskey, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

In the backyard of the facility is a beautiful garden and the aforementioned Detroit River. A wedding was going on along the shoreline with the magnificent backdrop. I noticed that Hiram’s office was on the opposite side of the building from the river. I learned this was because he wanted to focus on the task at hand and not be distracted by scenery.

Canadian Club Whiskey, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Great times at Canadian Club. Soon after the tour the whiskey and I ran into each other on an Amtrak train in the Midwest.

Canadian Club Whiskey, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

…and at a local establishment.

Canadian Club Whiskey, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

If you’re in southwestern Ontario or the Detroit area and you love great history and whiskey, make sure you make the trek to Canadian Club headquarters and take the tour. Watch out other makers of whiskey, I think a love affair might be starting haha. 🙂

Canadian Club Whiskey, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Any memorable distillery or brewery tours you would recommend from your travels? What’s your favorite kind of whiskey and do you like it straight or in a mixed drink?