Careful man, there’s a beverage here!
Before it rose to superstardom in The Big Lebowski, the White Russian was making a name for itself as an outgrowth of another cocktail, the Black Russian, which was first seen in the late 1940s. Neither drink is Russian. In fact, both were named for the country of origin of the main spirit: vodka. There is some doubt as to whether or not the Black Russian actually came first, but we’re not here to split hairs, dude. (Though there is a good chance that the Black Russian came first since the earliest written documentation of a White Russian didn’t crop up until the 1960s.)
While the White Russian may not be viewed on the same level as other sophisticated vodka drinks like the Vesper (James Bond is always going to beat out the Dude, that’s just how it is), that doesn’t mean it isn’t a classic cocktail. The strength of the vodka, the bittersweet coffee liqueur, and the palate-coating cream combine to make a delicious and easy-to-prepare beverage.
To derive the greatest pleasure from the White Russian, you want to get your swirl just right. To find out how to do that, we looked to Anna Maceda, beverage director of Grand Army Tavern in Portland, Oregon. For this recipe, we’re using Jackson Hole Still Works’ Headwater Vodka, the winner of the Best Vodka category in The Manual Spirit Awards 2018.
For those that find themselves in Portland, Grand Army Tavern (located in the Woodlawn neighborhood) is hog heaven for pork and cocktail lovers, with selections ranging from house-made charcuterie to porchetta and spiced butt roast sliders (bonus points if you can say the name without giggling). Those dishes, as well as the wide array of vegetarian options, go perfectly with the drink program, which ranges from light and Sunday morning-ready to spirit-forward.
How to Make a White Russian
Glass: Rocks glass
Tools: Large ice cube maker, stirring spoon
- 1.5 oz Highwater Vodka
- .75 oz coffee liqueur (such as Kahlúa)
- 1 oz cream
Method: Pour vodka and coffee liqueur into a rocks glass filled with a large cube of ice. Float cream on top and stir slowly.