White Russian: Uniting Alcohol and Caffeine Harmoniously F or a great many people, starting the day off with coffee is imperative. Finish...
White Russian: Uniting Alcohol and Caffeine Harmoniously
For a great many people, starting the day off with coffee is imperative. Finishing it with a cocktail may also be just as necessary. However, some like to get both that awakened buzz from caffeine along with that mellow smoothness that only alcoholic concoctions can bring and thus, that is where the White Russian fills the void.
The Russian aspect of this cocktail of course is the vodka. And the white? Well, that simply came about by the addition of cream, giving this a milky and sweet beverage that goes down smooth, perhaps a little too much so. It all started with the Black Russian. You can think of that as White Russian’s big sister. The only difference between the two is the cream in the White Russian.
Black Russians first came about in 1949. Made with vodka and coffee liqueur, it made no headlines. Unlike other cocktails where bartenders all over the globe fight endlessly about who truly invented it, no one cares to fight over the Black Russian. Or the White Russian for that matter, which first appeared in the Oakland Tribune in California on November 21, 1965. This newspaper insert made reference to a coffee liqueur brand by none other than Southern Comfort, a relic that stayed in the past. By adding the cream to the Black Russian recipe, what was black was now white, with no grey area in between.
For something that tastes so refined, the White Russian was shamefully ignored for the most part, often thought of as rather uninteresting or the kind of thing college-aged kids would ask for at a bar on their 21st birthdays. But then in 1998, thanks to The Big Lebowski, staring Jeff Bridges as “The Dude” who made White Russians his drink of choice, it brought the drink into the limelight. Now suddenly everyone wanted White Russians again.
While it has never enjoyed the kind of popularity as say Martini or Cosmopolitan, White Russian is no longer seen as the black (or even white) sheep of the drinking world. It’s undergone some variations as well to give it a trendy revival by mixologists looking for ways to stand out. Sometimes, it’s as simple as trying out different types of coffee liqueur. Other times, the cream is shaken to thicken it before pouring it over the drink, adding a textural element.
Those looking for a light yet sweet cocktail to pick them up can ask for an Anna Kournikova, named after the beautiful and slender Russian tennis player, which uses skim milk instead of full-fat. And if vodka simply isn’t your thing, you can ask for a White Cuban instead, which replaces the vodka with light rum. They are easy to make at home. All you need is 5 parts vodka, 2 parts coffee liqueur and 3 parts fresh cream on the rocks. Want a little more sweetness? Replace the cream with chocolate milk for what they call a Dirty Russian.
In any variety, we’re sure the next time your friends drag you out to the bar and you’re a bit drained from the workweek, you’ll order a White Russian to start off your night and pep up and subdue your spirit all in one!