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Issue 34 - How the hot toddy took flight

Whisky Magazine Issue 34
October 2003


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How the hot toddy took flight

Irish Coffee is known and loved across the world, but how did this happen? Peter Mulryan shows how it first took off.

For a brief period during the 1940s there flowered the most glamorous form of transport that we are ever likely to see.

In the days before budget airlines, or even decent runways, flying boats, the huge dinosaurs of the aviation world, criss-crossed the Atlantic, pushing man and machine to the limit.

These were not simply flights. In the middle of the second world war, these were epic adventures where everyone looked like Bogart and Bacall.

It paid to look cool, as by the time your New York flight splashed down on the calm waves of Foynes on the West coast of Ireland, your small intestine was probably in your Fedora.

You see, unlike modern aircraft, flying boats didn't fly above the weather, rather they kissed the clouds at the dizzying height of 8,000 feet, where head winds would often reduce the speed of the aircraft, over the ground, to 30 miles an hour.

This meant that the transatlantic crossing could take a bum-numbing 20 hours. As a result it's just as well these flying boats featured full length beds, staterooms and proper dining tables.

So there was nothing strange that winters' evening in 1943, when five hours out of Foynes, a New York bound plane, battered by the elements, turned back towards Ireland.

There was also nothing unusual in its tired passengers then climbing into a motor launch to be bumped over rough waves to an open dock.

And as they ran towards the terminal building, there was nothing peculiar in the cold, miserable dark Irish rain…. but wh...

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