Irish Coffee Mousse



I can’t stand  coffee! I hate everything about it; the smell, the flavour, the ground grind mess, but mostly my hubbies breath after he has had his daily dosage.  I am a tea drinker where my hubbie is totally addicted to coffee.  The man can’t function without at least 4-6 cups a day.  So it was no surprise that when my mother gave him his first Irish Coffee it was love at first taste.  Coffee and booz makes perfect sense for him.  My mother has tried to teach him several times on the fine technique necessary for making the perfect Irish Coffee.  He finally wrote down the recipe in full details and keeps it with the Irish Coffee glasses my mother gave him.  Now if you are unfamiliar with Irish Coffee, here is a quick summary of this whiskey inspired drink.

Foynes was an airbase near Limerick Ireland, in fact it was the main airport for Flying Boats between America and Europe. By 1940, the airport was handling many passengers, including many American VIP’s from the world of politics and Hollywood. Weather conditions along the West coast of Ireland can be notoriously bad, and often what was supposed to be just a stopover for refuelling turned into an overnight stay. In 1942 a new restaurant opened, which had the task of catering for the many important passengers passing through Foynes and present a very positive image of Ireland and its people to the world.

The new restaurant came under the responsibility of a young Irish Chef, Joe Sheridan. One winter night, in 1942, a flight left Foynes for Botwood in Newfoundland and then on to New York. After several hours of battling a storm, the pilot decided to turn back to Foynes – which was unfortunately not an unusual occurrence. As always, the restaurant was informed to prepare food and drink, as passengers would be cold and tired.

Joe Sheridan decided to prepare something special to warm the passengers up. He brewed dark, rich coffee, added in some Irish whiskey, a little brown sugar and floated freshly whipped cream on top of each cup. The story goes that there was a hushed silence as people drank this brew for the first time. “Hey Buddy,” said a surprised American passenger, “is this Brazilian coffee?” “No,” said Joe, “that’s Irish Coffee.”

The coffee was such a success that Joe made it a regular part of the menu in Foynes. Irish Coffee may never have become an international success, had the travel writer, Stanton Delaplane, not brought the recipe back to Jack Koeppler, a bartender at the Buena Vista Hotel in San Francisco. They attempted to recreate it, but without much success. Apparently, the cool cream on top kept sinking. Undeterred, Joe Koeppler travelled to Ireland to learn the correct way to make it. As fate would have it, by 1945 the era of the Flying Boat was coming to an end and Foynes closed in order to make way for landplanes. A new airport was opened on the other side of the Shannon Estuary – Shannon International Airport. Joe Sheridan, now working in Shannon, took his famous drink to the new airport and worked there until 1952, when the Buena Vista Cafe offered him a position.

The rest, as they say, is history. The Buena Vista is still famous throughout the United States for its Irish Coffees. It is said they make 2,000 Irish Coffees daily.


Mom’s Irish Coffee Recipe

My mom had her first Irish Coffee in San Fransisco at The Buena Vista  many many years ago.  Here is here recipe that she learned from the bar tender, which is slightly different then the original. She swears by Jameson Irish Whiskey, she says using anything else just doesn’t make the grade.

  1. Brew a strong coffee
  2. Boil water – and pour into glass – then empty water
  3. Added 2 sugar cubes(not granulated sugar)
  4. Add 1 – 2oz shot of Jameson Irish Whiskey (my mom swears by ONLY using Jameson)
  5. Fill with hot coffee (approx – 4oz)
  6. Top with firm whipped cream


For St Patrick’s Day it seemed like a natural to incorporate the famous drink into a dessert, hence the Irish Coffee Mousse.


½ tsp unflavoured powdered gelatin

2 tab water

4 large egg yolks

¼ cup granulated sugar

1/8 tsp salt

2 ½ cup heavy cream

2 tab instant espresso powder

3 tab Jameson Irish Whiskey

1 tab icing sugar

Chocolate covered espresso beans



  1. In a small bowl sprinkle gelatin over 2 tab of water – let sit
  2. In a medium bowl whisk egg yolks, sugar and salt – until pale and ribbon stage
  3. In a small saucepan heat 1 cup cream and espresso powder – whisk until powder is combined and just below simmer stage
  4. Temper eggs: pour ¼ of cream slowly into egg mixture whisking constantly add another ¼ cup of cream until completely combined
  5. Return entire mixture into saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly
  6. Add whiskey and cook until mixture thickens
  7. Transfer to a clean bowl and add gelatin and mix until combined
  8. Place plastic wrap on surface of mixture and let cool for 45min(do not refrigerate)
  9. Place 1 cup of cream in a large bowl and whip until soft peaks form
  10. Carefully fold cream into cooled mixture by hand until fully incorporated
  11. Divide mousse into choice containers ( I choose traditional Irish Coffee Cups) and chill until set – about 1hr
  12. Before serving whip balance ½ cup cream with 1 tab icing sugar until stiff peaks
  13. Garnish chilled mousse with whipped cream/ you can sprinkle with cocoa powder and a single chocolate covered espresso bean

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I think this is the first dessert that I have made that I couldn’t stand.  I tried one bite and had to go rinse my mouth with mouthwash.  Hubby on the other hand said it was a huge success.  He thought it could have used more whiskey, but that’s him and his affection for booz.

Happy St Paddys Day!!

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