National Coffee Day (September 29th) and National Vodka Day (October 4th) are so close that New Amsterdam Vodka wants to help you celebrate both.
They suggest a White Russian, a slightly caffeinated* cocktail.
The White Russian is a cocktail, but we think of it as a dessert.
Made with vodka, coffee liqueur, and cream served over ice, the White Russian is rich-rich-rich, even if you substitute milk or half-and-half for the cream.
The cocktail was born in 1949 when Gustave Tops, a barman at the Hotel Metropole in Brussels created both it and its sister cocktail, the Black Russians. The latter is just coffee and vodka, hold the cream.
We wonder if he knew what the original term “White Russian” described†.
The cocktails were created in honor of Perle Mesta, then U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg. So why are the drinks called Russians?
Vodka is the main ingredient!
Over the next decade, both Russians spread throughout the Western Hemisphere.
The first printed U.S. reference appears to be in Oakland (California) Tribune on November 21, 1965. The “official recipe” as published:
White Russian. 1oz. each Southern, vodka, cream.
“Southern” refers to a then-popular brand of coffee liqueur [source].
The White Russian was elevated to stardom in 1998, by the film The Big Lebowski, now a cult classic.
The Dude drinks nine White Russians over the course of the film—which encouraged Dude fans to try the drink (hopefully, in a more moderate number).
Writer Josh Wilson notes these variations:
Some people like a very creamy White Russian. To make one, double the cream and swirl it through after you’ve combined the other ingredients.
Ingredients Per Drink
1. ADD the ingredients to a double old fashioned (rocks) glass filled with ice.
2. STIR together to combine and chill. Garnish as desired.
*The one ounce of coffee liqueur per drink has 9g of caffeine. There are 11g of caffeine in 6 ounces of brewed coffee.
†In the 18th and 19th centuries, the term “White Russian” described ethnic Russians living in the area between Russia and Poland (today this area includes Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova and Ukraine). These were the people who fought in the White Army against the Soviet Red Army in the Russian Civil War (1918 to 1923). The White Army was composed of a large group of loosely allied forces, including monarchists, capitalists and supporters of democratic socialism. The Russian Civil War ended in 1923, with Lenin’s Red Army defeating the White Army and establishing the Soviet Union. After the defeat, most White Russians left Russia.
‡Horchata de arroz is a plant-based milk made from rice, flavored with cinnamon and sometimes with vanilla. In Mexico, it is a dairy-free drink. In the U.S., milk is often added.