Black Russian Cocktail Drink

Black Russian

A shot of Gavin Wrigley looking to the camera in a dimly lit room
Written by Gavin Wrigley
Andrea
Tested by
Andrea Ottaiano

If you’re looking for a sophisticated drink, this Black Russian recipe is all you need! With minimal ingredients, making this rich and smooth cocktail is incredibly easy.

Black Russian Recipe

Indulge in this straightforward Black Russian recipe! Crafted with vodka and coffee liqueur, this smooth cocktail is a delightful treat, perfect for unwinding.

Prep time:

1 minute

Mixing time:

1 minute

Servings:

1

Calories:

228 kl

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz coffee Liqueur, e.g. Kahlúa
  • Ice cubes

Equipment

  • Old Fashioned Glass
  • Measuring Jigger

Instructions

  • Prep Glass: Fill your Old Fashioned glass with ice cubes.
  • Add Coffee Liqueur: Measure and pour 1 oz coffee Liqueur over the ice.
  • Add Vodka: Pour 2 oz Vodka into the glass.
  • Serve: Serve and enjoy your Black Russian. Cheers!

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Vodka: When I don't have vodka, I use white rum. It alters the flavor but maintains the spirit's clean profile. A splash of Irish cream works wonders for a creamier texture, replacing the coffee liqueur.
  • Coffee Liqueur: Sometimes, I swap out Kahlúa for Tia Maria; it has a different spice profile but keeps the coffee essence.

Making a Pitcher:

  • Scale: To concoct a pitcher serving 8, I multiply all the ingredients by 8. So, it's 16 oz of vodka and 8 oz of coffee liqueur.
  • Mix: Combine the vodka and coffee liqueur in a large pitcher and stir well.
  • Serve: Pour the mixture into ice-filled Old Fashioned glasses and serve immediately.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Vodka Substitute: Opt for a non-alcoholic vodka substitute; several brands offer a similar taste without the alcohol.
  • Coffee Liqueur Substitute: Prepare a coffee-flavored syrup using decaffeinated coffee, sugar, and vanilla extract as a replacement.
  • Proceed As Usual: I follow the original steps.

Nutrition Facts

Calories
228
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
0.1
g
0
%
Saturated Fat
 
0.03
g
0
%
Sodium
 
3
mg
0
%
Carbohydrates
 
13
g
4
%
Sugar
 
13
g
14
%
Potassium
 
1
mg
0
%
Protein
 
0.03
g
0
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
0.03
g
Iron
 
0.01
mg
0
%

 

Black Russian Cocktail Drink

Black Russian Recipe

Gavin Wrigley Written by Gavin Wrigley
Jump to Video
Indulge in this straightforward Black Russian recipe! Crafted with vodka and coffee liqueur, this smooth cocktail is a delightful treat, perfect for unwinding.
Prep time: 1 minute
Mixing time: 1 minute
Servings: 1
Calories: 228

Ingredients
 

  • 2 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz coffee Liqueur - e.g. Kahlúa
  • Ice cubes

Equipment

  • Old Fashioned Glass
  • Measuring Jigger

Instructions

  • Prep Glass: Fill your Old Fashioned glass with ice cubes.
  • Add Coffee Liqueur: Measure and pour 1 oz coffee Liqueur over the ice.
  • Add Vodka: Pour 2 oz Vodka into the glass.
  • Serve: Serve and enjoy your Black Russian. Cheers!

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Vodka: When I don't have vodka, I use white rum. It alters the flavor but maintains the spirit's clean profile. A splash of Irish cream works wonders for a creamier texture, replacing the coffee liqueur.
  • Coffee Liqueur: Sometimes, I swap out Kahlúa for Tia Maria; it has a different spice profile but keeps the coffee essence.

Making a Pitcher:

  • Scale: To concoct a pitcher serving 8, I multiply all the ingredients by 8. So, it's 16 oz of vodka and 8 oz of coffee liqueur.
  • Mix: Combine the vodka and coffee liqueur in a large pitcher and stir well.
  • Serve: Pour the mixture into ice-filled Old Fashioned glasses and serve immediately.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Vodka Substitute: Opt for a non-alcoholic vodka substitute; several brands offer a similar taste without the alcohol.
  • Coffee Liqueur Substitute: Prepare a coffee-flavored syrup using decaffeinated coffee, sugar, and vanilla extract as a replacement.
  • Proceed As Usual: I follow the original steps.

 

What is a Black Russian drink?

The Black Russian is a cocktail that blends vodka with coffee liqueur. The drink has a rich history dating back to the late 1940s. It gained its name from the combination of its primary ingredient, vodka—a spirit commonly associated with Russia—and the deep, dark hue imparted by the coffee liqueur. This drink is not just for cocktail connoisseurs; its smooth and rich flavors are universally appealing. Additionally, the Black Russian is recognized as an International Bartenders Association (IBA) cocktail, further testament to its classic and enduring appeal.

A side shot of a Black Russian cocktail in an old fashioned glass on a light wooden coaster placed on a drak wooden table surrounded by coffee beans

What is a Black Russian made of – The ingredients

Assemble the following components to create a Black Russian:

  • Vodka: Provides a strong and smooth base for the cocktail, delivering a clean and clear spirit essence.
  • Coffee Liqueur: Adds a deep, rich coffee flavor and a sweet contrast to the vodka, enhancing the overall taste of the drink.
  • Ice Cubes: Chill the cocktail, ensuring it’s served cold, enhancing the sipping experience.

Vodka and coffee liqueur laid out on a white bar table.

How do you make a Black Russian?

Get to know how to mix a Black Russian with our easy guide:

1
<p>Select an Old Fashioned glass and fill it with ice cubes to chill the drink.</p>

Select an Old Fashioned glass and fill it with ice cubes to chill the drink.

2
<p>Carefully measure and add 1 oz coffee Liqueur over the ice, introducing a rich and sweet coffee flavor.</p>

Carefully measure and add 1 oz coffee Liqueur over the ice, introducing a rich and sweet coffee flavor.

3
<p>Measure and pour 2 oz of vodka to the glass, creating a strong and smooth base for the cocktail.</p>

Measure and pour 2 oz of vodka to the glass, creating a strong and smooth base for the cocktail.

4
<p>Serve and enjoy your Black Russian!</p>

Serve and enjoy your Black Russian!

What is the difference between a White Russian, a Black Russian and a Dirty Black Russian?

A White Russian, a Black Russian, and a Dirty Black Russian all share a lineage but have distinct differences. A Black Russian combines vodka and coffee liqueur, offering a bold and smooth flavor with a striking contrast between the vodka’s sharpness and the liqueur’s sweetness. When introducing cream to a Black Russian, it transforms into a White Russian, adding a creamy texture and a lighter, velvety flavor. On the other hand, a Dirty Black Russian brings cola to the original Black Russian recipe, adding a fizzy and sweet element, making the drink more refreshing and giving it a different character. Each has its unique taste profile, allowing for a versatile range of experiences based on the same foundational ingredients.

Black Russian with Tia Maria or Kahlua?

When crafting a Black Russian, the choice of coffee liqueur is pivotal, and Kahlúa and Tia Maria stand out as premium options. Kahlúa, hailing from Mexico, brings a rich and sweet flavor profile with hints of rum, vanilla, and chocolate, adding a layer of complexity to the drink. In contrast, Tia Maria offers a slightly less sweet and more pronounced coffee flavor, with a subtle hint of Jamaican rum and vanilla, giving the cocktail a distinctive edge. Both liqueurs meld seamlessly with the clear, sharp essence of vodka, enhancing the overall taste of the drink. If you’re a fan of a sweeter and more multifaceted flavor, Kahlúa is your go-to, but if you lean towards a robust coffee kick with a balanced sweetness, give Tia Maria a try. The choice can shape your cocktail experience, so pick according to your palate preference!

A side shot of a Black Russian cocktail in an old fashioned glass on a light wooden coaster placed on a dark wooden table surrounded by coffee beans.

Black Russian with Baileys

Introducing Baileys to a Black Russian can elevate the cocktail to a new level of indulgence. Baileys brings a creamy texture and a luxurious blend of flavors, including chocolate and Irish whiskey, to the mix. Combined with the sharpness of vodka and the deep, sweet notes of coffee liqueur, it creates a harmonious blend, offering a richer and more decadent experience. This variation is perfect for those who enjoy the classic version but are looking to explore a creamier and more flavorful twist.

The Long Black Russian

A Long Black Russian is a variation of the classic Black Russian, distinguished by its inclusion of cola. This addition not only enhances the drink with a fizzy sweetness but also gives it a longer, more refreshing quality. The cola’s carbonation adds a playful texture, making the drink an excellent choice for those who enjoy a little effervescence.

Variations

Looking for more? Here are some of our top picks.

  • White Russian: This one takes the classic Black Russian and enriches it with cream, resulting in a smoother, creamier experience. The addition of cream not only lightens the color but also softens the overall flavor, making it more palatable and indulgent. Personally, I’m captivated by its creamy smoothness; it’s like a comforting dessert in a glass.
  • Colorado Bulldog: This interesting twist mixes the creamy elements of a White Russian with a splash of cola. The cola adds a unique effervescence and a hint of sweetness, contrasting beautifully with the creamy base. I find the fizzy touch of cola refreshingly delightful, adding a playful twist to the familiar creamy taste.
  • Black Cuban: Here, rum replaces vodka, introducing a sweeter, more complex spirit base. This swap brings a robust, slightly sweet character to the forefront, differentiating it from its vodka-based relative. The use of rum adds a certain warmth and depth that I really appreciate, making it a richer experience.
  • Blind Russian: In this adaptation, cola takes the place of cream, creating a rich, velvety texture with a creamy flavor profile. The cola brings in a subtle sweetness and a lighter texture, offering a different kind of richness compared to the cream-based originals. The combination of cola’s sweetness with the strong coffee and alcohol flavors creates a unique balance that I find intriguing.
  • Brown Russian: This version sees ginger ale replacing cream, introducing a spicy, effervescent element. The ginger ale imparts a zesty, slightly spicy twist, creating a lively and refreshing alternative. The spice from the ginger ale adds an exciting kick, which I find particularly enjoyable, as it cuts through the richness of the alcohol and adds a bright, crisp finish.

A Black Russian cocktail, shot from above, in an old fashioned glass on a light wooden coaster placed on a drak wooden table surrounded by coffee beans

History and Origins

The Black Russian cocktail has its roots in the late 1940s, with its creation attributed to Gustave Tops, a bartender at the Hotel Metropole in Brussels, Belgium. The inception of this cocktail occurred when Gustave crafted it for Perle Mesta, the American ambassador to Luxembourg at the time. The name “Black Russian” emerged due to vodka, a quintessential Russian spirit, and the dark coloration derived from the coffee liqueur.

This concoction quickly gained popularity for its simplicity and the bold contrast of flavors, with the sharp, clear essence of vodka melding seamlessly with the rich, sweet notes of the coffee liqueur. Over the years, the drink has inspired numerous variations, each bringing a unique twist to the original, and it continues to be a favored choice for those seeking a sophisticated yet straightforward cocktail experience.

A side shot of a Black Russian cocktail in an old fashioned glass on a light wooden coaster placed on a drak wooden table surrounded by coffee beans and a bar spoon.

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FAQ

How many calories are in a Black Russian?
The drink typically has around 150 calories.
How strong is a Black Russian?
The strength can vary, but it usually has an ABV of around 35% and is 70-proof, depending on the ratio of the ingredients used.
What alcohol is used in a Black Russian?
Vodka is the primary alcohol used.
In which glass is a Black Russian typically served?
It's typically served in an Old Fashioned glass.
What does a Black Russian taste like?
It has a rich and smooth taste, combining vodka's clear, sharp essence with the sweet and deep flavors of coffee liqueur.
What is the ratio of ingredients in a Black Russian?
The standard ratio is 2 parts vodka to 1 part coffee liqueur.
How is a Black Russian served concerning ice and presentation?
It's usually served over ice cubes, ensuring the drink is well-chilled.

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