The White Russian
This classic cocktail has been tempting taste buds long before The Big Lebowski gave it celebrity status as The Dude’s drink.
Whether you are a history buff or a cult movie fan, the White Russian is the cocktail for you. A blend of vodka, coffee liqueur, and heavy cream, this libation is a popular pick due to its easy drinkability and rather simple preparation. The origins of the White Russian are tied to its sibling, the Black Russian, which came on the scene in the 1940s.
As the story goes, Perle Reid Mesta, the American ambassador to Luxembourg, was sitting at the bar inside a Brussels hotel when the head bartender concocted a new drink for her. He mixed Russian vodka with coffee liqueur and stirred with ice in Old Fashioned glass, giving birth to the Black Russian. In the years to come, mixologists tweaked the recipe in a not-so-subtle manner, adding heavy cream or milk for the signature look and taste of the White Russian.
While cocktail enthusiasts have long enjoyed the “Black Russian smoothed with cream,” as Simon Difford calls in his book, Cocktails: The Bartender’s Bible the White Russian gained immense popularity after filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen released their 1998 crime comedy, The Big Lebowski. In the cult favorite, Jeff Bridges stars as a burnout who insists on being called “The Dude.” Throughout the movie, The Dude mixes and stirs up his drink of choice – a White Russian – several times, often with powdered coffee creamer.
The Dude might be a loveable character and evoke a few laughs but we recommend sticking to heavy cream when mixing up your own White Russian. You can also substitute milk for a lighter version and almond milk for a non-dairy option.
The drink is best served in a squatty Old Fashioned glass on the rocks. Gently floating cream on top of the mixed vodka and coffee liqueur creates and enticing aesthetic.
The White Russian is a sweet, creamy libation for anyone interested in a simple, easy to drink cocktail. Mellow and smooth it’s fitting that the cocktail is the dude’s drink of choice. Mix one up for yourself and say it with us: “The Dude abides.” – Aubrey Schield for DRINKS Magazine
Recipe: White Russian
Add the vodka and coffee liqueur to an Old Fashioned glass filled with ice and stir. Float cream on top and serve. Makes 1.
Find this, and other recipes in the Fall DRINKS Magazine, available now at Surdyk’s.