White Russian (cocktail)

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White Russian
A mixed White Russian cocktail
Primary alcohol by volume
ServedOn the rocks; poured over ice
Standard drinkware
Old Fashioned Glass.svg
Old Fashioned glass
Commonly used ingredients
PreparationPour 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 (Russian language: Белый Русский) 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 or half and half 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]

The White Russian saw a surge in popularity after the 1998 release of the film The Big Lebowski. Throughout the movie, it appears as the beverage of choice for the protagonist, Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski. On a number of occasions he refers to the drink as a "Caucasian".[7]

The White Russian is also the favourite drink of Maurice "Moss" in The IT Crowd.


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. Sometimes the drink is prepared on the stove with hot coffee for a warm treat on cold days. Conversely, vanilla ice cream has been known to be used, rather than cream, to make it frozen[8][9].


Many variants of the cocktail exist, both localized and widely known, such as a Blind Russian (also known as a Muddy Water) which substitutes cream with Irish Cream, a Mudslide (a Blind Russian with both), White Canadian (made with goat's milk), an Anna Kournikova (named after the tennis player), made with skimmed milk (i.e. a "skinny" white Russian), a White Cuban (made with rum instead of vodka), or a Dirty Russian (made with chocolate milk instead of cream).[10][11]

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. ^ Kurutz, Steven (December 2, 2008). "White Russians Arise, This Time at a Bowling Alley". The New York Times. Retrieved January 9, 2014.
  8. ^ "Nostalgic Frozen Kahlúa White Russian Cocktail & Holiday Entertaining Tips". Cooking in Stilettos. June 12, 2018. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  9. ^ "Frozen White Russians!". Anne Taintor. July 10, 2015. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  10. ^ "The Snows of Revolution". The Boise Weekly. 2006. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  11. ^ "White Russian". Conan's Pub. 2006. Retrieved May 6, 2010.

Further reading[edit]