The White Russian

The White Russian

The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 cocktail
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
253 Calories
8g Fat
9g Carbs
1g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 253
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 5g 26%
Cholesterol 25mg 8%
Sodium 9mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 9g 3%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 9g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 0mg 1%
Calcium 15mg 1%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 29mg 1%
*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 White Russian is among the best, easiest, and most popular vodka cocktails you will come across. The creamy counterpart to the equally famous Black Russian—vodka and coffee liqueur—the white version is incredibly simple to make by just adding cream to the black one. Made famous by the beloved "Dude" character in the Big Lebowski movie, the drink took off during the late '90s among a new generation of fans of this cult favorite.

Adding this easy recipe to your bartending arsenal will give you a two-for-one lesson, as buying coffee liqueur and vodka will give you a complete drink (black), and adding cream on top of it will provide a second cocktail (white). The White Russian is a very approachable drink, so delicious that one can barely notice there's alcohol in it, and this has only fed the drink's popularity. You get vodka accented with the taste of coffee in a luscious, creamy cocktail.

Our recipe just requires a quick stir, but play a little and test your bartending skills by floating the cream on top of the spirits and ice. It may require a bit of practice to get a clean layer, but it makes for a great-looking drink. Serve this with a straw and allow the drinker to stir the ingredients as they like. Enjoy a White Russian—stirred or layered—after dinner, during happy hour, or anytime you're looking for a quick and delightful drink.

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Ingredients

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    White Russian ingredients

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  2. Pour the ingredients into an old-fashioned glass, starting with the vodka, followed by the coffee liqueur. Add ice into the glass, and pour the cream in last.

    White Russian ingredients in a glass

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Stir well. Serve and enjoy.

    The White Russian, stirred together in glass

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

Choose Your Cream


Choose good-quality vodka, but also pay attention to the cream:

  • Heavy cream is a popular choice because it is thicker, only a small amount is used in the drink, and it becomes lighter as the ice melts.
  • Light cream and half-and-half are both good prospects, but whole milk is a go-to as well for the simple fact that more people have milk rather than cream in the fridge. Milk, however, produces a rather thin drink.
  • For a dairy-free drink use soy, almond, rice, or any of the other nut- or grain-based beverages.

Flavorful Additions and Substitutions

  • Berry infused vodka adds another bold dimension to the drink.
  • Cake and whipped cream vodkas, or espresso, chocolate, and vanilla vodkas are also great choices.
  • Kahlúa is the most popular coffee liqueur used in a White Russian, but Firelit, New Deal, or Leopold Bros. are also great choices.


Other White- and Black Russian-inspired drinks will use different liquors and spirits like:

How Strong Is the White Russian?

If we were to use an 80-proof vodka and mix the White Russian according to the recipe above, it would be approximately 24 percent ABV (48 proof). Even though it will mellow a bit as the ice melts, it is a deceptive cocktail and a little more potent than you may think, so take it easy.

Which Vodka Is Best for Cocktails?

The biggest question with cocktails is which vodka to use. The simple answer for the White Russian is to use whatever vodka you like. The strong flavors of the other ingredients will disguise any impurities in the vodka used, so use your favorite "well" vodka and not the finest one in your bar. There are many great-tasting and inexpensive vodkas available to choose from.

Why Is It Called a White Russian?

The name "white Russian" simply refers to the cocktail's main ingredient and color. It's a variation of the black Russian, which is dark because of the coffee liqueur. In the 1940s, vodka was being heavily marketed to American drinkers. Similar to the Moscow mule, this pair of drinks took on a Russian name because the Soviet Union was the biggest vodka exporter at the time.