Black & White Russian

The Black Russian dates back to 1949. The cocktail owes its name to the use of vodka, the prototypical Russian spirit, and the blackness of the coffee liqueur. The addition of cream in the mid 60s resulted in the White Russian. Both were once cocktail hour standards although they eventually faded in popularity. The White Russian experienced a revival in popularity after it was featured as signature drink of “the Dude,” protagonist in the The Big Lebowski.

As cream is not a universally-loved favourite amongst our boozy fellowship ( I know, right?), we decided to split this evening’s order down the middle and sample both the dark side and the light.


Black Russian

  • 5 parts vodka (1.5 oz)
  • 2 parts coffee liqueur —we used Tia Maria (.6 oz)
  • ice

White Russian

  • 5 parts vodka (1.5 oz)
  • 2 parts coffee liqueur (.9 oz)
  • 3 parts milk or cream (.9 oz)
  • ice

Add the ice to an old fashioned glass and pour in vodka. Add the coffee liqueur. If you are opting for a White Russian, pour the milk in over the back of a spoon to try and layer it; the finished drink isn’t stirred allowing the coffee liqueur and vodka to rest on the bottom of the glass. Garnish with stir-stick or straw and add a maraschino cherry if you want to go for an extra sweet treat.

The Verdict: Mmmmmmm. Everyone sampled both drinks and there was universal approval but no real decision on which was superior. Not overly-sweet but certainly not what I would call “boozy” or sour. The White Russian had more of a milkshake feel and I imagine the more creamy the milk, the more that effect would be exaggerated. The Black Russian had a more smooth, sipping thing going on. This one—or is that these ones— is/are definitely on the lets-do-that-again list.

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