White Russian was created by Gustave Tops -a Belgian barman- in 1949, along with the black Russian, which is in fact a White Russian without any cream. So, the drink’s country of origin has nothing to do with it’s name.

White Russian is a satisfying and rich drink blended from vodka, coffee liqueur, and light cream. The best time for it’s consommation is after dinner. This one-stop source of alcohol, sugar, caffeine, and milk fat has it all.

Most of us know this amazing cocktail from the cult movie The Big Lebowski (1998), which is a California-noir cult comedy classic made by The Coen brothers. It was inspired by another film noir by Howard Hawks, The Big Sleep (1946).

Should we drink it with milk or single cream? As much of Kahlua as of vodka? Relax, maybe the Dude has the right answer how to make the ideal White Russian for you.

A cult movie

The cult movie The Big Lebowski was released in 1998. It has provoked a genuine rejuvenation wave in the United States, and to a lesser extent in France. White Russian was the favorite cocktail of the main character,  Dude (Jeff Bridges), which drink contains coffee liqueur. Kahlúa is for example a well-known coffee liqueur brand made from coffee originating from Mexico (coffee liqueur appeared in Jamaica in the 17th century).

jeff bridges the big lebowski white russian

You may celebrate the birthday of your favorite movie with making a single White Russian (you might even prepare nine, just as the Dude during the film). But the question may first arise in your mind: how should you put it together?

White Russian is a creamy classic cocktail based on vodka, coffee liqueur, cream, milk or a mixture of both. It is typically served in a whiskey glass with ice. Vodka and coffee liqueur are poured first into a glass filled with ice cubes and the milk and/or cream are added to fill the glass to the brim.

white russian coffee

  •  1 cup of ice cubes
  • 30 to 45 ml of vodka
  • 15 to 45 ml of Kahlua coffee liqueur
  • Cream, milk or half of both (to fill the glass)
  • Maraschino cherries in garnish (optional)

Dosage does not matter

Is your secret desire to make yourself a White Russian like Jeff Lebowski? If you are a true Dude fan, you know he does not pay too much attention to the dosage or even on the ingredients he uses. This lax side is in fact one of his traits of character.

At the beginning of the film, he buys a carton of “Half and Half” (a mixture of milk and single cream) in the supermarket -dressed in a bathrobe- with the purpose of mixing it with vodka and Kahlua. But later, he does not hesitate to make a White Russian with milk powder at Maud Lebowski (Julianne Moore).

As with any cocktail, there is no fixed rule and the right recipe is the one that one appreciates the most.

There are many variations

If your vodka is stored in the freezer, you can put less ice cubes (or none at all). The dosage between vodka and Kahlua depends on your tastes: for a sweeter and less strong drink, put more Kahlua (you can go as far as to put as much as vodka). For a more “sturdy” cocktail, you need to use more vodka. For a little more lightness, prefer whole milk to single cream.

As with any cocktail, there are many variations. Replace the vodka with Irish whiskey for example, and you will get a Black Irish. Do the same with rum and you will sip a White Cuban. Whatever dosage or ingredients you choose, it is hard to mess up your white Russian. This is perhaps the reason why this Dude shirker is so fond of it.



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