White Russian (cocktail)

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White Russian
A mixed White Russian cocktail
Type Cocktail
Primary alcohol by volume
Served On the rocks; poured over ice
Standard drinkware
Old Fashioned Glass.svg
Old Fashioned glass
Commonly used ingredients
Preparation Pour coffee liqueur and vodka into an Old Fashioned glass filled with ice. Float fresh cream on top and stir slowly.
An unmixed White Russian

A White Russian is a cocktail made with vodka, coffee liqueur (e.g., Kahlúa or Tia Maria), and cream served with ice in an Old Fashioned glass. Often milk will be used as an alternative to cream.


The traditional cocktail known as a Black Russian, which first appeared in 1949, becomes a White Russian with the addition of cream. Neither drink is Russian in origin, but both are so named due to vodka being the primary ingredient. It is unclear which drink preceded the other.[1][2]

The Oxford English Dictionary[3] refers to the first mention of the word "White Russian" in the sense of a cocktail as appearing in California's Oakland Tribune on November 21, 1965.[4] It was placed in the newspaper as an insert: "White Russian. 1 oz. each Southern, vodka, cream",[5] with "Southern" referring to Coffee Southern, a short-lived brand of coffee liqueur by Southern Comfort.[6]


As with all cocktails, various modes of preparation exist, varying according to the recipes and styles of particular bars or mixologists. Most common varieties have adjusted amounts of vodka or coffee liqueur, or mixed brands of coffee liqueur. Shaking the cream in order to thicken it prior to pouring it over the drink is also common.


Many variants of the cocktail exist, both localised and widely known, such as a White Canadian (made with goat's milk), an Anna Kournikova (named after the tennis player, made with skimmed milk, i.e. a "skinny, low-fat" White Russian), a White Cuban (made with rum instead of vodka), or a Dirty Russian (made with chocolate milk instead of cream).[7][8]

In popular culture[edit]

The White Russian is the signature drink of "the Dude", the protagonist of the cult classic The Big Lebowski (played by Jeff Bridges). In the movie, the Dude refers to it as a "Caucasian."

The cocktail's prominence in the film has been connected to a revival in its popularity. Before the movie, the cocktail was considered passé and likened to an alcoholic milkshake.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sicard, Cheri (August 6, 2007). "Featured Cocktails – Black Russian and White Russian". FabulousFoods.com. Retrieved June 8, 2010. 
  2. ^ "10 Famous Cocktails and Where They Were Born". bootsnall.com. Retrieved February 9, 2017. 
  3. ^ "June 2007 Update : Oxford English Dictionary". oed.com. Retrieved February 9, 2017. 
  4. ^ "The History of the White Russian". nicoledigiose.com. August 10, 2012. Retrieved February 9, 2017. 
  5. ^ "White Russian, n. and a.". Oxford English Dictionary. June 2007. Retrieved May 6, 2010. 
  6. ^ "An Enthusiast’s Guide to Cocktails: the White Russian". The Alcohol Enthusiast. May 11, 2011. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  7. ^ "The Snows of Revolution". The Boise Weekly. 2006. Retrieved December 31, 2010. 
  8. ^ "White Russian". Conan's Pub. 2006. Retrieved May 6, 2010. 
  9. ^ Kurutz, Steven (2 December 2008). "White Russians Arise, This Time at a Bowling Alley". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 January 2014. 

Further reading[edit]