A Party For A Glass

There are a lot of adjectives that can be used to describe the City of San Francisco. Some flattering, some less so.

One word that always leaps to my mind is nostalgic. For a big bustling city, on the forefront of technology and food and lifestyle, the town can get really bundled up about the past.

From toppled clocks to fiberglass dog heads to the preservation of graffiti, the town will vehemently unite around a little quirky slice of the past. After the lamenting and handwringing, people will unite to lobby government, business owners and each other to put things back to right.

The latest example? Glasses. Plain ol’ glasses manufactured by the Libby Glass Co. of Toledo, Ohio.

But a special glass that oh so perfectly fits the town’s specialty of Irish Coffee. I, myself, have held onto many a glass of the type and shape that makes a perfect warm beverage. The same glass that the manufacturer decided to stop producing.

The City’s biggest purveyor of Irish coffee, the iconic Buena Vista at Fisherman’s Wharf, had stopped buying from the Toledo company and moved over to a Chinese manufacturer. With such a huge drop in business, the Libby Co. didn’t see why they should keep cranking them out. It just made good business sense.

Enter the tenacity of a nostalgic people. There was an outcry! There was vocal frustations. Pleading, begging and enough of a ruckus was made that the story hit the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle.

When the company read about the good people of San Francisco mourning the loss of the right glass, they made the decision to swallow some not-insignificant costs to resuscitate the glass mold and do a new run. If this stack of inventory sells well, they’ll consider doing another run.

And Irish Coffee drinkers rejoiced!

From the article in the SFGate:

“The queenly, petite glass…allows for just enough whiskey and not too much coffee, with barely room for three C&H sugar cubes at the bottom and aged whipping cream that floats like a halo on the top.”

Indeed. It’s another cool foggy summer evening in the City. Tourists and locals alike seem to get along pretty darn well over a perfectly poured Irish Coffee in the beautifully shaped, heat retaining glass.

For reference, in the photo below, the one on the left is all wrong. The glass on the right is our little beauty.

Photo credit: Susana Bates / Special to The Chronicle

Side note: A few years ago, the Buena Vista also changed their whiskey brand in favor of a private label. It was a shocking transition and the purists were not pleased, including me. The new whiskey isn’t as smooth as the other variety. Doesn’t keep me from drinking it, but it gives me something to complain about.

About Author


  • Dave Bonner

    Very interesting debate about the shape of a liquid holding vessel made of glass. It certainly made me think! And it is as I thought but not when I thought…

    This debate was settled a long time ago… just not as long ago as I thought it would be. In 1971 a ‘fictional character’ named Bailey’s refudiated this debate once and for all! There is no debate. “Baileys” however you like it, which corresponds with however you can get it is the final answer.

    However, I maintain a couple or three favorite glasses for special occasions. And I do love San Fransisco. A simi-swim away, I even fell in love with San Leandro (at least the obscure corner holding the San Leandro Union 76 Truck stop that was a five minuite walk from the BART station by Raider Stadium). So I might consider a trade of a couple of pounds of “home” roasted-peeled-frozen green chili shipped in dry ice, for two of those ‘authentic’ glasses.

    But I must confess… Any cream to enter said vessels will come strictly from a fictional guy.. or gal(the legend neglects to appoint gender).


    • Karen Fayeth

      Dave – Ah, thanks for the thoughts and keeping me on my toes today. Maybe you can head up to the spendy ski areas up north and corner the market on NM style Irish Coffee!

Comments are closed.