Of the Buena Vista Cafe, Speed is uncharacteristically pithy: "It's a very cool place," he says. Easily accessed by cable car, the bar is located just along the Hyde Street line. Speed says it's a popular nightspot among locals, yet for tourists it's also the perfect place for a pick-me-up while scoping the attractions of the adjacent Fisherman's Wharf. Its claim to fame, however, is that the original owner cracked the secret of Irish Coffee.
It seems that the hallmark drink of the Emerald Isle was impossible to replicate stateside. That is, until 1952, when Stanton Delaplane and Jack Koeppler, owner of the Buena Vista, brought the issue to the mayor of San Francisco, who was a prominent dairy owner in the bayside city. They discovered that if the cream was allowed to sit for 24 hours, and then was precisely whipped, a drink could be produced that rivaled the one first concocted in what is Shannon Airport today. "They took the recipe and brought it to the next level, perfected it," says Speed. The drink propagated throughout the country, aided by San Franciscans who were delighted by the richness of the drink, as well as by the warm vibe of the cosmopolitan cafe. [The Buena Vista Cafe; 2765 Hyde Street, San Francisco, CA, 415-474-5044]