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Best Irish Whiskey Cocktails In The Bay Area

Irish Coffee (credit: JENS NOERGAARD LARSEN/AFP/Getty Images)

With St. Patrick's Day almost here, there is no better time to celebrate the grand Irish heritage that continues throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Certainly, San Francisco has an enormous amount of Irish pubs and restaurants that proudly serve drinks made with authentic Irish whiskey, but don't overlook well-loved Irish spots in other Bay Area cities where superb Irish whiskey cocktails are a big draw.

The Buena Vista Café
2765 Hyde St.
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 474-5044

Everyone knows the Buena Vista Café's signature drink is its world renowned Irish Coffee ($10), famously created in 1952 by then Café owner Jack Koeppler and local travel writer Stanton Delaplane as a homage to a celebrated "Irish Coffee" served at Ireland's Shannon Airport. After much experimentation, success was theirs, and the delicious Buena Vista Irish Coffee recipe remains a legend. Located at San Francisco's famed Fisherman's Wharf, the Buena Vista Café is also a well-known destination for its extensive and tasty food menu and full bar, which includes Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey, the real deal Irish whiskey also used in the Irish Cocoa ($10), another popular cocktail here. Click here for the Buena Vista Café Irish Coffee story, and its "how do we do it," cocktail directions.

Johnny Foley's
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 954-0777

Around since 1998, Johnny Foley's has become one of the city's exemplary gathering spots and top Irish pubs. With its premier location, a block from Union Square and surrounded by San Francisco's theater district, big hotels, cable cars and top shopping destinations, Johnny Foley's takes a modern spin on classic Irish food, drink and ambiance. Proudly claiming itself "The Real Deal," Johnny Foley's offers live entertainment rounding out its reputation as a lively spot to meet friends for food and drinks. Top choice drinks are, of course, made with Irish whiskey, including favorites John Power, Jameson 1780, Paddy, Tullamore Dew 12 year and much more. Come in and ask the bartender for the current favorite Johnny Foley's cocktail.

Finnegan's Marin
877 Grant Ave.
Novato, CA 94945
(415) 899-1516

Finnegan's Marin is a special gathering spot in North Marin, where as Finnegan's says, "American bar and grill meets Irish pub" in downtown Novato. This award-winning bar and restaurant offers delicious food all day plus Sunday brunch, has a full bar featuring Irish whiskeys and is proud to be a neighborhood focused business with "community-oriented nightlife." Open 365 days a year, Finnegan's stocks an extensive line of Irish whiskeys. Two Finnegan's whiskey cocktail favorites are the Whisky Smash ($12), made with Redbreast, simple syrup, muddled mint and fresh lemon topped with fresh mint, and the Bitter Sweet ($9), made with Jameson, Campari, grapefruit juice and Whit Beer, and served with an orange slice.

The Irish Bank Bar & Restaurant 
10 Mark Lane
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 788-7152

With its cool downtown Union Square location, and welcoming outdoor patio seating snugly set in its own comfy lane, The Irish Bank Bar & Restaurant is both a unique spot yet an authentic Irish pub at the same time. While the outside gives a traditional Irish cottage appearance, one step inside reveals a showcase atmosphere with rare antiques, historical documents and advertisements, old photographs barrels and more memorabilia that invites visitors to stay for a while and have a drink. The Irish Bank presents its Irish coffees and hot whiskeys (Irish whiskey, hot water, sugar, lemon and cloves) at $9, whiskey and ginger ales are $9, and the latest favorite is the "Big Ginger" ($10), 2 Gingers Irish Whiskey with ginger beer with a lemon or lime garnish ... delish!

O'Flaherty's Irish Pub
25 North San Pedro Street
San Jose, CA 95110
(408) 947-8007

O'Flaherty's Irish Pub celebrates the camaraderie, fine food and spirits that epitomize the traditional Irish pub experience. Located in San Jose's historic San Pedro Square, O'Flaherty's is centrally located and a convenient spot for friends to connect. O'Flaherty's is known for its huge selection of domestic and imported craft beers and exceptional range of domestic and imported whiskeys, including the best in Irish whiskeys. Favorite Irish whiskey cocktails feature top brands including: Powers, Tullamore Dew, Michael Collins, Kilbeggan, Red Breast, Bushmills, Jameson and more.

Melanie Graysmith is a writer, artist and educator based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She writes on adult education, art and culture, business, and lifestyle topics, and enjoys writing short stories and poetry. She is also a part of the Bay Area independent film community. Her work can be found at


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