People who don't know California all that well, when asked to name an iconic Golden State sip, might land upon some icy blended beverage filled with garish garnishes and all sorts of diced fruit.
They wouldn't be wrong; we rather like our sangrias and tiki-style beverages. But the long state at the very western end of the country also can put the Irish Coffee feather in its icon-popularizing cap, for the hot and highly spirited beverage gained superstardom upon our very shores.
Made famous at the Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco and LA's own Tom Bergin's Public House, Irish Coffee first hailed from Shannon, Ireland, where San Francisco writer Stanton Delaplane tasted it and liked it.
There's been some good-natured grumbling over the years about which place, NorCal or SoCal, has done the most for the drink, but the low-lit and lively tavern at 840 S. Fairfax Avenue in Los Angeles has been whipping the potent stuff up for decades. (You, too, dear Buena Vista; we know you've been lining up the glass mugs since 1952.)
As for our own beloved Tom Bergin's? Irish Coffee began pouring in its woodsy environs back in the late thirties, just a few years after the public house opened in 1936. Yep, 1936, which means Tom Bergin's has a big birthday in 2016.
There will be pint-raisings to come in its 80th year, for certain, but the tavern will start the celebrations on Jan. 25.
That's National Irish Coffee Day, and Tom Bergin's will mark the occasion by offering a special on its famous sip. Be at the horseshoe bar -- or one of the nearby booths -- from 5 o'clock to 2 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 25 and enjoy a drink that's been served thousands of times, right there, for eight bucks.
Eight decades, eight bucks; all we're saying is you better include a personal toast to the historic tavern in which you stand, at some point in the evening. It would be classy, is all we're saying.
Tom Bergin's signature Irish Coffee, by the by, includes Tullamore DEW Irish Whiskey, dark roast coffee, simply syrup, and heavy cream that's on the cool side.
As for the Irish Coffee competition? Well, like the French Dip, which a few spots downtown are proprietary about, it is a celebrated sip with a big story. No doubt that fans of Tom Bergin's also call upon the Buena Vista when in San Francisco, and vice versa.
The ultimate winner here is everyone who likes to see slices of local history remain and thrive, wherever the city.
So here's to you, Tom Bergin's Public House, in your 80th year. We're raising a glass mug, the kind with the wee handle, the handle that's hard to put a finger or two through. And we wouldn't want that to change in any way.