Smith & Kearns Cocktail

Milky cream-colored Smith & Kearns cocktail with ice

The Spruce Eats

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 cocktail
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
417 Calories
22g Fat
24g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 417
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 22g 28%
Saturated Fat 14g 69%
Cholesterol 67mg 22%
Sodium 22mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 24g 9%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 24g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 0mg 2%
Calcium 48mg 4%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 77mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The Smith & Kearns was created by the Blue Blazer's Gerbert "Shorty" Doebber in 1952. Shorty named it for two oilmen who were regulars at the bar: Smith and Curran. Over the years, the drink's original name and ingredients were changed a bit, though it's still very tasty and a popular mixed drink.

According to the stories, the loud atmosphere in bars caused the name "Curran" to be misheard as "Kearns" (sometimes spelled Kerns). Over time, the original crème de cacao was replaced with a coffee liqueur as well. That may be due to the white Russian's growing popularity in the 1960s, which helped make Kahlua a star of the bar.

Whether you take it with coffee or chocolate, the Smith & Kearns is a delicious beverage. It's light on the alcohol, so it makes a nice happy hour drink and the soda and cream combo gives it that ice cream float sort of feel. It's actually one of the more refreshing cream cocktails you can make. If you add vodka, it becomes a Smith & Wesson (alluding to the gun manufacturer and the cocktail's extra kick).


Click Play to See This Creamy Smith and Kearns Cocktail Come Together

"I was skeptical of this recipe. Coffee liqueur and cream go so great together that I thought diluting it with soda water would be a step down. But this drink is surprisingly great! It's more refreshing and every bit as satisfying as a white Russian. Add it to the rotation!" —Tom Macy

Smith and Kearns Cocktail Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 2 ounces coffee liqueur or crème de cacao

  • 2 ounces cream

  • 1 to 2 ounces club soda, to taste

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for Smith & Kearns cocktail recipe gathered

     The Spruce Eats

  2. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, pour the coffee liqueur and cream.

    Cocktail ingredients in separate glasses next to a cocktail shaker

     The Spruce Eats

  3. Shake well.

    Open cocktail shaker with the cap next to it

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  4. Strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice.

    Milky cream-colored Smith & Kearns in a tall glass with ice

    The Spruce Eats

  5. Top with club soda. Serve and enjoy.

    Milky cream-colored Smith & Kearns cocktail with ice n a tall glass

     The Spruce Eats

Recipe Variations

  • This drink can also be served without shaking or stirring. Instead, build it in layers by pouring the liqueur into a glass with ice, adding cream, then topping it with club soda.
  • To make a Smith & Wesson, just add vodka. Typically, this mixed drink is made by shaking 1 ounce each of vodka and coffee liqueur with 2 ounces of cream. Strain it over ice and top with soda.
  • Switch the club soda out for cola in the vodka recipe and you'll have a Colorado bulldog.
  • If you want to add a little twist, pour a coffee or chocolate vodka. In fact, that's a great way to get both of those flavors into the drink; combine a coffee vodka with a chocolate liqueur or vice versa.


  • For a lighter drink, pour milk instead of cream (vanilla soy or almond milk is a great choice, too). Or, go with half and half for a cream component that's neither too light nor too thick.
  • As with other creamy vodka drinks, there's no need to use the best vodka you have in stock for this one. Your favorite "well" vodka will do just fine and there is a variety of great budget-friendly vodkas available today.

How Strong Is the Smith & Kearns?

Mixed drinks like this can be as light or strong as you want to make them. Pour more liquor and less soda for a stiff drink if you prefer, though it is difficult to make it very strong. The Smith & Kearns was designed to be a nice, casual drink. At an average alcohol content of 6 percent ABV (12 proof), it definitely fits the bill. Adding the vodka ramps it up a bit but the Smith & Wesson is still just 9 percent ABV (18 proof).

What Can Coffee Liqueur Be Used For?

Coffee liqueur, such as Kahlua, can be enjoyed on its own as a sweet after-drinker drink, neat or on the rocks. It can be added to coffee for a little sweet booziness, mixed with cream or half-and-half, or topped with soda water. Use to make mixed cocktails like an espresso martini, white Russian, widow maker, and Bahama mama.