Coffee, Irish whiskey and cream.
Taken separately they're a tasty trio. But combine them just the right way and in just the right proportions and they get even better, transforming into a drink that can perk up the grayest day.
We're talking Irish coffee, of course, a drink that's especially popular around St. Patrick's Day, but good any time you want to add some zing to your caffeine.
The secret, says Larry Silva, general manager of the Buena Vista Cafe in San Francisco -- which serves up 2,000 Irish coffees a day -- is how you put the drink together.
At the Buena Vista -- the original source of the drink in the U.S. -- Irish coffee starts with a stemmed, 6-ounce glass that's been preheated with hot water. And both of those elements are critical.
For a touch of sweetness, the Buena Vista recipe adds two cubes of sugar, though other recipes call for brown sugar. The cream, meanwhile, should be fresh and just slightly whipped -- nothing from an aerosol can.
As for the whiskey, the Buena Vista is currently using Tullamore Dew.
They'll be busy at the Buena Vista on St. Patrick's day. Last year, thirsty revelers sucked down 3,640 Irish coffees.
Take that, green beer.
Looking to brew a little Irish cheer yourself this St. Patrick's Day? Try this classic recipe, or the chocolate-laced variation.
Depending on which version of the "original" Irish coffee you subscribe
Start to finish: 5 minutes
2 sugar cubes or 1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 1/2 ounces Irish whiskey
1/4 cup heavy or whipping cream, lightly beaten (but still pourable)
Fill a large coffee cup with boiling water to preheat it. Let it stand for about 1 minute, then empty the glass.
Fill the glass three-quarters full with hot coffee. Add the sugar, then stir until dissolved. Stir in the whiskey.
Top the coffee-whiskey blend with the lightly whipped cream. To do this, hold an overturned spoon over the coffee, then slowly pour the cream over it. The goal is for the cream to float on top of the coffee; do not mix it in. Part of the Irish coffee experience is drinking the hot coffee through a layer of cool cream.
(Recipe adapted from The Buena Vista Cafe, San Francisco)