White Russian Cocktail Drink

White Russian

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

Want a quick cocktail fix? The White Russian recipe has easy ingredients to make that perfect drink.

Best White Russian Recipe

Do you like White Russian? Check out our recipe! Easy ingredients include vodka, coffee liqueur, and a touch of cream.

Prep time:

1 minute

Mixing time:

1 minute

Servings:

1

Calories:

329 kl

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz coffee Liqueur, Kahlúa
  • 1 oz heavy cream or Half-and-Half
  • Ice cubes

Equipment

  • Old Fashioned Glass
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Stirrer or Bar Spoon

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.
  • Add Cream: Gently float 1 oz heavy cream or Half-and-Half on top.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Vodka: I've experimented with white rum in place of vodka. The result is a slightly sweeter and more aromatic profile.
  • Coffee Liqueur: If you can't find Kahlúa, Tia Maria is another good option. For a homemade twist, infuse vodka with coffee beans and add a bit of simple syrup.
  • Heavy Cream or Half-and-Half: Milk can be used, but the drink will be less rich. If you want to elevate the drink, try a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Making a Pitcher:

  • Scale: To serve 8, you'd need 16 oz of vodka, 8 oz of coffee liqueur, and 8 oz of heavy cream or half-and-half.
  • Mix: Combine the vodka and coffee liqueur in a large pitcher.
  • Serve: Pour the vodka and coffee liqueur mixture into individual ice-filled Old Fashioned glasses, top each with the heavy cream or half-and-half, give a gentle stir, and serve immediately.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Vodka Substitute: Use a non-alcoholic vodka or plain soda water for the kick without the alcohol.
  • Coffee Liqueur Substitute: Opt for a coffee-flavored syrup or non-alcoholic coffee liqueur.
  • Proceed As Usual: Replace the alcoholic components with these non-alcoholic alternatives and follow the original steps for a delightful, non-alcoholic version.

Making it Vegan:

  • Cream Substitute: Cashew cream, almond milk, or coconut cream work wonderfully to replace dairy-based cream. Adjust the thickness as desired. I love coconut cream for its rich texture and subtle tropical flavor. Ensure you shake or stir well before using, as they can sometimes separate.

Nutrition Facts

Calories
329
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
11
g
17
%
Saturated Fat
 
6
g
38
%
Sodium
 
11
mg
0
%
Carbohydrates
 
13
g
4
%
Sugar
 
13
g
14
%
Potassium
 
29
mg
1
%
Cholesterol
 
34
mg
11
%
Protein
 
0.03
g
0
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
0.03
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
2
g
Calcium
 
20
mg
2
%
Iron
 
0.01
mg
0
%

 

White Russian Cocktail Drink

Best White Russian Recipe

Jump to Video
Do you like White Russian? Check out our recipe! Easy ingredients include vodka, coffee liqueur, and a touch of cream.
Prep time: 1 minute
Mixing time: 1 minute
Servings: 1
Calories: 329

Ingredients
 

  • 2 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz coffee Liqueur - Kahlúa
  • 1 oz heavy cream or Half-and-Half
  • Ice cubes

Equipment

  • Old Fashioned Glass
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Stirrer or Bar Spoon

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.
  • Add Cream: Gently float 1 oz heavy cream or Half-and-Half on top.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Vodka: I've experimented with white rum in place of vodka. The result is a slightly sweeter and more aromatic profile.
  • Coffee Liqueur: If you can't find Kahlúa, Tia Maria is another good option. For a homemade twist, infuse vodka with coffee beans and add a bit of simple syrup.
  • Heavy Cream or Half-and-Half: Milk can be used, but the drink will be less rich. If you want to elevate the drink, try a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Making a Pitcher:

  • Scale: To serve 8, you'd need 16 oz of vodka, 8 oz of coffee liqueur, and 8 oz of heavy cream or half-and-half.
  • Mix: Combine the vodka and coffee liqueur in a large pitcher.
  • Serve: Pour the vodka and coffee liqueur mixture into individual ice-filled Old Fashioned glasses, top each with the heavy cream or half-and-half, give a gentle stir, and serve immediately.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Vodka Substitute: Use a non-alcoholic vodka or plain soda water for the kick without the alcohol.
  • Coffee Liqueur Substitute: Opt for a coffee-flavored syrup or non-alcoholic coffee liqueur.
  • Proceed As Usual: Replace the alcoholic components with these non-alcoholic alternatives and follow the original steps for a delightful, non-alcoholic version.

Making it Vegan:

  • Cream Substitute: Cashew cream, almond milk, or coconut cream work wonderfully to replace dairy-based cream. Adjust the thickness as desired. I love coconut cream for its rich texture and subtle tropical flavor. Ensure you shake or stir well before using, as they can sometimes separate.

What is a White Russian?

A White Russian is a vodka, coffee liqueur, and cream cocktail. Its name doesn’t necessarily reflect its origins but its distinct ingredient combination. It’s a favorite for those who love a blend of coffee flavors and creamy richness. The cocktail’s smooth texture and rich taste make it a good andpopular choice for a dessert drink or a luxurious nightcap. Often served over ice, it contrasts the cold temperature and the warm, deep flavors of coffee and cream.

A side shot of a White Russian cocktail in an Old Fashioned glass on a wooden background

What is a White Russian made of – The ingredients

The recipe for a White Russian requires the following ingredients:

  • Vodka: The primary spirit that provides the kick and forms the cocktail’s base.
  • Coffee Liqueur: Adds depth and a rich coffee flavor, complementing the vodka.
  • Cream: Offers a velvety smoothness and creamy finish, balancing out the strength and bite of the alcohol.

Coffee Liqueur, Vodka and Cream laid out on a white bar table

How do you make a White Russian?

Check our step by step guide for making a White Russian:

1
<p>Start by filling an Old Fashioned glass with ice cubes to chill the drink.</p>

Start by filling an Old Fashioned glass with ice cubes to chill the drink.

2
<p>Add the coffee liqueur, introducing a rich coffee flavor that complements the vodka.</p>

Add the coffee liqueur, introducing a rich coffee flavor that complements the vodka.

3
<p>Pour vodka over the ice to form the cocktail’s alcoholic foundation.</p>

Pour vodka over the ice to form the cocktail’s alcoholic foundation.

4
<p>Gently float the cream on top, allowing it to mix naturally with the other ingredients, or gently stir it for a more combined texture.</p>

Gently float the cream on top, allowing it to mix naturally with the other ingredients, or gently stir it for a more combined texture.

5
<p>Enjoy your White Russian!</p>

Enjoy your White Russian!

Making a White Russian with Milk

Milk can step in when you’re out of cream for your White Russian. It lightens the drink a bit, offering a less dense texture than cream. However, it still provides dairy richness that balances the coffee liqueur and vodka. If you’re aiming for a lighter White Russian or want to cut down on the creaminess, go for milk. Whole milk works best, but if you prefer skim or 2%, those will do in a pinch. Remember that the thinner the milk, the less creamy your drink will be.

Using Baileys or Kahlua for a White Russian

When whipping up a White Russian, the choice between Baileys and Kahlua can make a notable difference. Kahlua, originating from Mexico, is a coffee liqueur with a sweet, rich, and slightly bitter coffee profile. It’s the traditional go-to for the White Russian, ensuring the drink has its characteristic coffee kick. On the other hand, Baileys is an Irish cream liqueur blending whiskey with cream. Using Baileys will give your White Russian an added creamy texture and a hint of whiskey. If you’re after the classic coffee flavor, stick with Kahlua. But Baileys is a fun switch if you’re in the mood for a creamier twist with a whiskey undertone. Kahlua remains a favorite for that authentic White Russian experience between the two.

Are there any pre-mixes for White Russian?

Several brands stand out in this game. “Cutwater Spirits” offers a creamy canned White Russian with a hint of coffee and a smooth vodka kick. “Tippy Cow” is another brand, bottling White Russians that bring back memories of a classic diner’s vanilla milkshake with a boozy touch. But if you’re looking for top-tier taste, “Boulevard Brewing Co.” is where it’s at. Their White Russian is part of their limited-edition lineup, offering a blend that’s neither too sweet nor too boozy, striking the right balance. For a solid, reliable pick, “Boulevard Brewing Co.” gets the nod.

A White Russian cocktail, shot from above on a wooden brown background

How does a White Russian with Rum taste?

Switching things up with rum in a White Russian? It’s bolder than you might think, and trust me, it’s worth the experiment. Rum, with its caramel and molasses undertones, infuses the drink with a distinct warmth and richness. Swapping out vodka for rum transforms the White Russian from a cool, creamy sipper to a cocktail with a tropical hint. Brands like “Bacardi” or “Captain Morgan” have variants that would work well. If you’re after a more refined flavor, “Mount Gay” or “El Dorado” offers rums that give a deep, flavorful twist. For those looking to dip their toes into the rum-infused White Russian pool, I’d recommend starting with “Mount Gay.” Its smooth profile blends seamlessly with the coffee liqueur and cream, crafting a familiar and new cocktail. 

Variations

Interested in unique twists? See our favorites:

  • Blind Russian: This intriguing mix swaps out cream for Baileys Irish Cream, introducing a unique creamy liqueur flavor that perfectly meshes with the standard elements. The Baileys brings a delightful Irish cream essence that I find particularly luxurious, adding a hint of chocolate and vanilla to the overall profile.
  • Dirty Russian Cocktail: This one creatively uses chocolate milk instead of regular cream, infusing a sweet and chocolaty twist into the base. The addition of chocolate milk is something I really enjoy, as it transforms the drink into a more dessert-like indulgence, perfect for satisfying my sweet tooth.
  • Muddy Water Cocktail: In this straightforward approach, the absence of cream lets vodka and coffee liqueur shine on their own, highlighting their pure combination. The focus on just vodka and coffee liqueur delivers a robust and unadulterated experience, ideal for those who appreciate the strong, unmasked flavors of the base spirits.
  • White Mexican Cocktail: This variation introduces tequila in place of vodka, contributing a sharp and earthy contrast to the sweet coffee liqueur. The tequila adds a distinct bite, which I find adds an exciting kick, balancing the sweetness of the liqueur with its bold, agave-driven character.
  • Golden Russian Cocktail: Here, Galliano replaces the coffee liqueur, bringing anise and herbal tones to the forefront. The use of Galliano introduces a complex, aromatic blend of herbs and spices that I find intriguing, offering a unique departure from the traditional coffee-flavored approach.

A White Russian cocktail on a small plate on a brown background with some coffee beans spread around

History and Origin

White Russian owes its origins to the early 20th century. While the exact date remains fuzzy, most accounts place its creation in the 1930s or 1940s. The name “White Russian” doesn’t necessarily point to any Russian heritage but refers to its primary spirit: vodka, which many associate with Russia.

The drink first gained significant attention in a Belgian ad campaign by the coffee liqueur company Coffee Southern in the 1960s. From this period, the drink began its climb to popularity. Its fame skyrocketed during the 1990s, largely due to the film The Big Lebowski. In the film, the main character, The Dude, frequently enjoys the creamy concoction, cementing its place in pop culture.

Interestingly, the White Russian has a sibling cocktail, the Black Russian, which predates it. The Black Russian consists only of vodka and coffee liqueur, omitting the cream. Once bartenders started adding cream to the mix, the White Russian was born and quickly became a beloved choice for those looking for a smoother, creamier experience.

 

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FAQ

How many calories are in a White Russian?
It contains approximately 257 calories, which can vary based on the specific ingredients and proportions used.
How strong is a White Russian in terms of ABV and proof?
The drink typically has an ABV of around 20-24%, translating to 40-48 proof. However, this might differ based on the vodka's proof and the ratio used.
What type of alcohol is used in a White Russian?
The primary alcohol is vodka, complemented by coffee liqueur.
In which type of glass is a White Russian typically served?
It's traditionally served in an Old Fashioned glass.
What does a White Russian taste like?
The drink offers a creamy texture with rich coffee undertones and a slight alcoholic bite from the vodka.
What is the usual ratio of ingredients in a White Russian?
The common ratio is 2 parts vodka to 1 part coffee liqueur and 1 part cream, but some prefer equal parts of each.
How is the White Russian served concerning ice or temperature?
It's usually served over ice, meaning the ingredients are poured over ice cubes in the glass.
What's the best vodka for a White Russian?
The best vodka is Grey Goose due to its smooth finish and neutral profile, which complements the drink's other ingredients.
Which cream is the best for a White Russian?
Heavy cream is preferred due to its rich texture and full-bodied flavor that complements the drink.

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