Some consider it a “guilty pleasure,” the Dude often refers to it as a “Caucasian,” but the simple luxury of a White Russian isn’t lost on anyone who knows what’s good for them. It’s the kind of drink that seems implicitly appropriate at any time of day because of the coffee liqueur and milk…at least that’s what I tell myself.
It’s actually a rather recent concoction popularized by you guessed it, the Coen brothers classic: The Big Lebowski. It most likely stemmed from the Black Russian which was first noted in 1949. We’re not exactly sure which one came first, but a Black Russian is just a White Russian sans cream.
This past, salty summer in Santa Cruz, my friends and I perched ourselves on the edge of the cliff that the Surf Museum Lighthouse sits on and enjoyed the adult version of the SC classic Marianne’s ice cream float. The juxtaposition of a low-key childhood tradition and a somewhat classier adult beverage made this afternoon so delightful that it quickly became the summer of the White Russian. Without a lack of caffeine or calories, we had the necessary energy to fully savor the mischief of seemingly endless Santa Cruz summer nights. I’ll save the naughty stories for another time, back to the matter at hand:
By the looks of it, one might shy away from attempting to construct this classic cocktail. But it’s pretty quick, you don’t have to cut anything, you don’t have to dirty several different utensils, and most of all–you can’t get it wrong. Step one, put your favorite shades on. This is a trick they don’t tell you about in mixology school. But don’t worry, I’ve got you. Next, combine 2 ounces of vodka and 1 ounce of coffee liqueur(like Kahlua). Then, add an ounce of milk or cream. Finally, throw some ice in and revel in your own personal slice of paradise.
While I typically make my own, there are a couple bars in California that are worth mentioning when discussing White Russians. In San Francisco, Club Deluxe in Haight Ashbury make theirs with cream whipped right in front of your eyes. Franklin & Co Tavern in LA have crafted a swell milkshake version for those looking to indulge even further.
There are, however, some noteworthy variations. Replacing the cream/milk with horchata is a personal favorite. Others use Irish Whiskey and Bailey’s. Sometimes I add chocolate syrup because I’m here for a good time not a long time. Either way you go, creative or not, it’s never failed to make my friends and I feel a little buzzed…er I mean, it’s never failed to tantalize our sophisticated palates. -Karina Chahal
- 2 oz Vodka.
- 1 oz Coffee Liqueur (Like Kahlua)
- 1/2 oz Whole Milk or Heavy Cream