hangin’ at the tosca

January 23rd, 2011

The Tosca Café on Columbus Avenue in the North Beach section of San Francisco is the greatest hang-out in the world, bar none.  Some of its charm lies in the fact that nothing has changed, except the prices, in its eighty-plus year existence.  The same giant cappuccino machines still grace each end of the long bar, the red vinyl booths in back still pack out on Saturday nights, and the vintage jukebox still plays the same tunes it did in the 1930’s and 40’s.

Italians arias and Sinatra croonings add to an ambience blessedly devoid of dueling television screens.  In the early afternoon, owner Jeannette Etheredge can be spied in her tiny office tallying the previous day’s receipts while the bartender carefully lines up many dozen tulip glasses in preparation of the notoriously famous House Coffee, a coffee-hot chocolate-brandy concoction topped with whipped cream.

I’ve been making a slightly different version of Tosca’s House Coffee for many years now and with the first sip am carried back in time to all of the previous conversations and musings enjoyed while hanging out at the Tosca.

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Related Recipes

Hot Chocolate Coffee

Based on the famous House Coffee at Tosca Café in San Francisco, this concoction is equally delicious with or without the cognac.

For each serving:

  • 6 ounces prepared hot chocolate
  • 6 ounces prepared hot coffee
  • 1 ounce cognac, optional
  • freshly whipped cream
  • pinch of cinnamon

In a warm mug or stemmed glass, combine hot chocolate, coffee and cognac.  Top with whipped cream and a small sprinkling of cinnamon.  Slurp immediately.

Copyright © Katherine Stetson, all rights reserved.