You’ll only need three ingredients to make a White Russian cocktail: vodka, coffee liqueur, and heavy cream. The cocktail’s simple, sweet, and potent with ingredients that mingle perfectly in the glass. Vodka’s neutral, clean taste, makes it just the right spirit to strengthen the drink and showcase the liqueur…all whilst heavy cream drapes the White Russian in a smooth cloud that’s both mesmerizing and delicious.
History of the White Russian
The White Russian is a variation of the Black Russian, but neither originate from Russia. Their names derive from the 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 White Russian begins with the creation of the Black Russian in the late 1940s. The Black Russian was created by a bartender named Gustave Tops, at the Hotel Metropole in Brussels, Belgium. 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.
The White Russian cocktail was created later in the century, the 1960s. It’s not clearly evident who decided to add the heavy cream. But luckily for us someone did!
The White Russian was eventually enshrined in American culture by the 1998 movie The Big Lebowski. The comedy has become a cult favorite. Its eccentric protagonist (Jeff Bridges) downs at least six White Russian’s throughout the course of the movie.
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 expensive vodka to enhance quality. But you shouldn’t use a ridiculously cheap brand either. Especially not one sold in a plastic bottle! Tito’s Handmade is a solid choice. It’s a well-priced quality brand that’s made in Texas. Absolut and Smirnoff will also do the trick.
Kahlúa is the most common brand of coffee liqueur used in the White Russian. It’s also the number one selling coffee liqueur in the world. This 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 instead. St. George Nola and Leopold Bros are both excellent coffee liqueurs that taste great in a White Russian too.
The heavy cream aka heavy whipping cream tops everything off. The amount you add to the cocktail is purely based on preference. Some prefer just a splash, while others want a milkshake. Regardless, the cream distinguishes the White Russian from the Black, so it’s important. If you’re not sure what heavy cream is, check this out. You can find heavy cream at any respectable grocery store. If cream’s not available or you want a leaner option, substitute with half n’ half.
How to Make a White Russian
The perfect White Russian cocktail recipe! You’ll only need three ingredients to make a White Russian: vodka, coffee liqueur, and heavy cream. The cocktail’s simple, sweet, and potent with ingredients that mingle perfectly in the glass.
- 2 fl oz Vodka
- 1 fl oz Coffee Liqueur (i.e. Kahlúa)
- 1/2 – 1 fl oz Heavy Cream
The proper ratio of vodka, coffee liqueur, and heavy cream is purely based on preference. Try different combinations to see what you enjoy and stick with it!
*Nutrition information is approximate and varies depending upon ingredients used.
- Category: Cocktail
- Serving Size: 1-3
- Calories: 330
Keywords: White Russian, Vodka, Coffee Liqueur, Heavy Cream
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