By Catharine L. Kaufman
Although many places and people have been professing to be the inventors of the blessed Irish coffee, the Buena Vista Café in San Francisco has a solid claim to its authorship as any. It’s a heart and body-warming libation for March’s weather. A non-alcoholic counterpart, which also carries the emerald essence of March is the healthful green tea. Also keeping the body energized are more eccentric libations like a gin- or vodka-based vegetable martini, now being served at edgy hot spots around town. And for the cocoa-nuts, a mint-infused hot chocolate will do the trick.
In the 1940s, the port of Foyne, the predecessor of Shannon International Airport in western Ireland, was a bustling hub for Flying Boats between Europe and the United States. A flight to New York City returned to Foyne Airport due to severe storms. The chilled and agitated passengers disembarking the Pam Am flying boat headed straight to the airport terminal restaurant where Chef Joe Sheridan offered them his enlivening and heart-warming concoction of hot coffee with a splash of Irish whiskey that he dubbed, “Irish coffee.”
Years later this coffee percolated its way to the United States through a travel writer for the San Francisco Chronicle who delivered it to Buena Vista Café owner Jack Koeppler. There, they replicated the authentic recipe by floating the cream on top.
According to author Alex Levine, “Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups: alcohol, caffeine, sugar and fat.”
Here’s the original recipe for Joe’s joe:
“One spoon of brown sugar, as sweet as the voice of an Irish tenor
One cup of coffee, as strong as an Irish brogue
One jigger of Irish whiskey, as smooth as a colleen’s complexion
One dollop of fresh whipped cream, as rich as a pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow.
Pour the whiskey into a goblet. Add the brown sugar, and fill one inch below the rim with coffee. Stir to dissolve, and top with cream.”
If Irish coffee’s not your cup of tea — try a cup of green tea, the oldest new health drink. Had we paid attention to the Chinese, Indians and Brits, it wouldn’t have taken us this long to find out how healthy and exhilarating this versatile beverage is.
While all teas contain antioxidants, the justly praised green tea is a source of polyphenol antioxidant, a potent foe of certain cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. A splash of almond or hazelnut milk adds body and a richer taste, while a spoon of honey transforms it into a soothing balm.
For die-hard chocolate lovers, add a splash of mint extract, chocolate mint syrup or mint liqueur to a mug of steamy hot chocolate or cocoa. Or blend the mint flavoring with the whipped cream and add a dollop to the drink.
Finally, to warm the cockles of your heart with a cold “green” libation, try a kitschy trio of martinis blended with healthful, antioxidant veggies: A carrot ginger martini is loaded with fresh, carotene-rich carrot juice, ginger beer, Stoli vodka and rum; a golden beet and horseradish cocktail blends body cleansing beet juice, vodka and grated horseradish; while a “dirty pickle” combines refreshing cucumber and cornichon juices and gin.
To accompany the warm beverages, those who like to munch between sips might enjoy these traditional scones.
(Where possible, use organics)
1-cup unbleached flour
½-teaspoon baking powder
4 ounces sweet cream butter, softened
¼-cup cane or Turbinado sugar
1 egg, beaten
¼-cup milk (I prefer almond or hazelnut)
½-teaspoon almond or hazelnut extract
½-cup currants, dried cranberries or golden raisins
½-cup toasted, chopped hazelnuts or pecans
Directions: Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. Crumble the butter into the mixture until little pea-sized balls form. Add the sugar and continue to mix well. Add half the beaten egg, milk and extract. Blend in the currants or raisins and nuts until a soft, sticky dough forms. Turn onto a floured board, and knead for a couple of minutes. Make two flat circles about ¾-inches thick. Cut into quarters. Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Brush with remaining beaten egg. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
For additional libation recipes, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the food blog at FreeRangeClub.com.