I can’t in my right mind write a legitimate review of SF’s infamous Buena Vista Cafe. Sure, it’s no secret that I frequently dismiss the merits of the coffee cocktail — what people do to coffee when it either isn’t very good, when people don’t like it, or when people get bored easily. Even if the coffee cocktail is a compulsory event at barista championships. But there is no espresso to speak of at The Buena Vista. And if this place did serve espresso, it most certainly would set CoffeeRatings.com records for inadequacy.

Welcome to the Buena Vista tourist trap Lining up glasses of the stuff for the tourists

But in case you haven’t been a tourist in your own back yard for quite a while, The Buena Vista introduced Irish Coffee to America. It’s what the Italians call “Irish Coffee” (no caffè irlandese here, folks — an Italian barista will have no idea what you’re talking about). Back in 1952, the original owner of The Buena Vista joined forces with a travel writer on a mission to recreate the Irish Coffee served at Shannon Airport in Ireland. They soon perfected the recipe, and they’ve been serving it ever since.

This former restaurant for Wharf seamen is located at the SF cable car turnabout — at Hyde and Beach Sts., near the end of Columbus Ave. The Buena Vista is packed with tourists from all over. Glasses are lined up for a mass production mixture of coffee, sugar, Bushmills Irish Whiskey, and cream. The watery coffee is from Peerless, so you need a lot of whiskey to make it palatable. But hey — drink up. Today you’re a tourist in your own home town.

The 'proudly' use Peerless Coffee. A step up if you're used to Maxwell House. SF's original signature coffee drink

UPDATE: Nov. 5, 2008
In case you needed more evidence that quantity and quality are often very different things, the Buena Vista Cafe is apparently about to drive that point home next week: Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco on mission to make world’s largest Irish Coffee – San Jose Mercury News.