A White Russian is a quick and easy cocktail recipe made with vodka, coffee liqueur (like Kahlua), and cream served over ice in an old-fashioned rocks glass – no cocktail shaker needed. You don't have to be The Dude to enjoy this rich after-dinner drink!
You only need three ingredients to make a White Russian, which is why this has been my favorite after-dinner drink for as long as I can remember. It's like having a super creamy, decadent iced coffee with a kick. If you're a fan of cocktails like Irish Coffee and Espresso Martinis, I really think you'll enjoy the White Russian!
The Big Lebowski and White Russians
First things first, in case you're already confused about my comment about “The Dude” above…
“The Dude” is the popular moniker for the character Jeffrey “the Dude” Lebowski (played by Jeff Bridges) in the cult classic movie The Big Lebowski. Long story short, The Dude is a lazy, bowling-obsessed, robe-wearing slacker who is constantly drinking white Russians.
I really won't be able to do the movie justice in a synopsis on this page, so I highly recommend you go watch it yourself if you've never seen it. The Dude abides.
So basically, people associate the drink with the character, and aside from how freaking delicious white Russians are, it might be my favorite thing about this cocktail. And also how easy it is.
White Russian ingredients
The White Russian cocktail recipe seriously couldn't be much easier:
- Vodka – Don't use the cheap stuff you reached for in college to add to a giant bowl of punch. Choose one you really like the flavor of, since it's one of only three ingredients and you're going to taste it. Absolut is a solid choice that's widely available, but I'm also a fan of using Reyka, PAU Maui vodka, and whatever I can find at local distilleries (shop small!).
- Coffee liqueur – The most common choice for this is Kahlua and that will likely be the easiest to get your hands on. I also enjoy Tia Maria or Mr. Black. If you find the the resulting drink is a little too bitter for you due to your choice of coffee liqueur, add a tiny bit of simple syrup.
- Heavy cream – Nothing fancy here! Just good ol' heavy cream. You can also use milk or half and half, but it will be thinner and less rich.
How to make White Russians
- Fill an old-fashioned glass with ice cubes.
- Add the vodka, then the coffee liqueur.
- Top with the heavy cream and stir.
… that's it. And honestly, you don't even have to stir it if you don't want to. It does look pretty awesome before stirring (see above).
For my more visual learners, here's the step-by-step breakdown so you can see how it all comes together:
Step 1: Fill an old-fashioned glass with ice cubes. Add the vodka.
Step 2: Add the coffee liqueur.
Step 3: Top with heavy cream.
Step 4: Stir and serve!
What's a Black Russian?
The Black Russian is an even easier version of the White Russian! It's actually the predecessor to the White Russian, eclipsed by the popularity of The Dude's favorite cocktail.
To make a Black Russian, simply leave out the cream. Fill a rocks glass with ice, two ounces of vodka, and one ounce of coffee liqueur.
Can you make a White Russian with milk?
You can, but you'll lose some of the creaminess that comes with using heavy cream. Just try to use whole milk if you can!
What's a Baileys White Russian?
A Baileys White Russian is where you swap out the heavy cream for Baileys Irish Cream. It adds a bit more alcohol to the drink and tastes a bit like a Mudslide.
- Chill all your ingredients. This just ensures that the ice will melt less quickly, and will give the drink a more consistent flavor if you're not mixing room-temperature liquor with cold heavy cream.
- Stir it… or don't. If you want to keep the gorgeous swirls of cream, give it a single quick stir and dive in! But if you want to ensure all the ingredients are evenly mixed, give it a few stirs until it's a warm beige color.
- Add a sprinkle of spice. I like to add a sprinkle or dusting of nutmeg (or sometimes cinnamon) to the top of my White Russian for a little extra flavor. I find it makes an already cozy drink even cozier with warm spices.
The best way I can think to describe the flavor of a White Russian is that it's almost like a super creamy, decadent iced coffee with a kick. If you're a fan of cocktails like Irish Coffee and Espresso Martinis, I really think you'll enjoy the White Russian.
The most common choice for this is Kahlua and that will likely be the easiest to get your hands on. I also enjoy Tia Maria or Mr. Black.
Don't use the cheap stuff you reached for in college to add to a giant bowl of punch. Choose one you really like the flavor of, since it's one of only three ingredients and you're going to taste it. Absolut is a solid choice that's widely available, but I'm also a fan of using Reyka, PAU Maui vodka, and whatever I can find at local distilleries (shop small!).
You can use milk or half and half instead of cream in your White Russian, but the drink will be thinner and less rich. Use whole milk if you can.
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The Best White Russian Cocktail Recipe
- Add the vodka and coffee liqueur to a rocks glass filled with ice.2 ounces vodka1 ounce coffee liqueur
- Top with the heavy cream and stir. Add a sprinkle of nutmeg on top, if desired. Serve immediately and enjoy responsibly!Top with heavy creamsprinkle nutmeg
The provided nutrition information is generated by an automatic API and does not take variations across specific brands into account. This information is provided as a general guideline and should not be treated as official calculations. Learn more here.