The Black Russian cocktail’s sweet and simple. There’s not much to the drink, just a 2:1 ratio of vodka to coffee liqueur – draped over a bed of fresh ice. The cocktail takes me back to simpler times: childishly nestled on the couch watching classic movies with my grandfather…as he slowly sipped away…
History of the Black Russian
The Black Russian is the grandfather of the deliciously creamy White Russian, although neither originate from Russia. Their name(s) derive from their main ingredient, vodka, which is definitively Russian. I mean not really; many northeastern European countries take credit. But Russia’s famous for their vodka, so it’s good enough.
The story of the Black Russian begins in Brussels, Belgium…at the onset of the Cold War.
The Black Russian was created by a bartender named Gustave Tops, at the Hotel Metropole in Brussels, Belgium during the late 1940s. The cocktail was made in honor of the U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg, Perle Mesta.
However, Perle was more than just an ambassador. She was known for being a socialite that hosted lavish parties for political elites and famous entertainers.
Her net worth was vast, a billionaire by today’s standard. So it’s safe to assume these parties were funded by more than just her state department salary.
An invitation to one of her soirées meant you were either politically or socially relevant in high society. A woman well-suited for a signature cocktail indeed.
Later, in the 1960s, the White Russian cocktail was born with the addition of heavy cream. Both cocktails remain popular today.
Vodka’s the base of the cocktail. The spirit lacks any distinct aroma or taste, so it won’t interfere with the taste of the liqueur. The liqueur’s flavor dominates the drink, any purity or smoothness high-end vodka provides is easily masked.
As a result, it’s not necessary to use an expensive vodka to enhance quality. But you shouldn’t use an exceptionally cheap brand either, especially not one sold in a plastic bottle! Tito’s Handmade is a quality brand that’s well-priced and made in Texas. Absolut and Smirnoff will also do the trick. If you’d like to be daring, add some creativity to the recipe by using a vanilla-infused vodka! It’s unique and delicious!
Kahlúa is the most common brand of coffee liqueur used in a Black Russian. It’s also the number one selling coffee liqueur in the world. The award-winning liqueur is made with rum, sugar, vanilla bean, and 100% arabica coffee from Veracruz, Mexico. But that’s not to say other brands can’t be used as well. St. George Nola and Leopold Bros are both excellent coffee liqueurs that taste great in a Black Russian to.
If you’re in the mood, try making your own coffee liqueur at home. It’ll add a bit of customized excitement to the cocktail! An excellent DIY coffee liqueur recipe can be found here. So don’t be afraid to try new things!
Finally, the Black Russian’s served in an old fashioned or rocks glass over ice. Add a cherry for garnish if desired.
How to Make A Black Russian
A perfectly balanced Black Russian cocktail recipe!
- 2 fl oz Vodka
- 1 fl oz Coffee Liqueur (i.e. Kahlúa)
- 1 Cherry for Garnish (Optional)
- Cubed Ice
- In an old fashioned or rocks glass, combine vodka, coffee liqueur, and 4-5 ice cubes.
- Stir well for 15-20 seconds.
- Garnish with a cherry (optional).
*Nutrition information is approximate and varies depending upon ingredients used.
- Category: Cocktail
- Serving Size: 1-3
- Calories: 235
Keywords: Black Russian, Vodka, Coffee Liqueur
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