White Russian (cocktail)

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This article is about the cocktail. For other uses, see White Russian (disambiguation).
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.

A White Russian is a sweet cocktail classically made with vodka, coffee liqueur (e.g., Kahlúa or Tia Maria), and cream served with ice in an Old Fashioned glass. In modern times, many establishments have substituted milk for 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 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. It was placed in the newspaper as an insert: "White Russian. 1 oz. each Southern, vodka, cream",[3] with "Southern" referring to Coffee Southern, a contemporary brand of coffee liqueur.[4]


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. Kahlúa is the brand of coffee liqueur most commonly associated with White Russians, mostly because it has become something of a genericized trademark for coffee liqueur.


Many variants of the cocktail exist, both localized and widely known, such as a White Canadian (made with goat's milk), a Blind Russian (made with Baileys Irish Cream instead of cream – the “Blind” comes from the drink being made with all-alcoholic ingredients), a White Mexican (made with horchata), an Anna Kournikova (made with skim milk, i.e. a "skinny, low-fat" White Russian), a White Cuban (made with rum instead of vodka), a White Belgian (made with chocolate liqueur instead of coffee liqueur), or a Dirty Russian (made with chocolate milk instead of cream).[5][6]

In popular culture[edit]

The White Russian is the signature drink of "the Dude", the protagonist of the cult classic The Big Lebowski. 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.[7]

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
  3. ^ "White Russian, n. and a.". Oxford English Dictionary. June 2007. Retrieved May 6, 2010. 
  4. ^ "An Enthusiast’s Guide to Cocktails: the White Russian". The Alcohol Enthusiast. May 11, 2011. Retrieved December 2, 2011. 
  5. ^ "The Snows of Revolution". The Boise Weekly. 2006. Retrieved December 31, 2010. 
  6. ^ "White Russian". Conan's Pub. 2006. Retrieved May 6, 2010. 
  7. ^ 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]