How to Make It: ‘The Big Lebowski’ White Russian (The Dude’s Favorite Cocktail)

Careful man, there's a beverage here!

Grab your favorite vintage (likely never-washed) cardigan sweater, pull up a chair beside the rug that “really ties the room together,” and relax. Today, we’re talking all about how to make a White Russian cocktail that’s guaranteed to get the stamp of approval from The Dude, aka His Dudeness, aka Duder, aka El Duderino.

Keep reading for the recipe. The dude abides.

What’s in a White Russian?

Thanks, in part, to The Big Lebowski, White Russians are one of the most recognizable vodka cocktails (and not just at the bowling alley). However, this tasty drink dates back long before the Coen brothers’ classic 1998 film.

The first White Russian dates back to the mid-20th century and, despite its name, the White Russian doesn’t have Russian origins. Rather, it gets its name from its main ingredient, vodka. White Russians are easy to make and only require three ingredients. Vodka meets an equal amount of Kahlua (or homemade coffee liqueur) finished with a hefty splash of cream.

The mellow taste of sweet coffee liqueur mixed with a splash of cream tastes like a grown-up iced coffee. White Russians are sweet but not overly sweet, meaning they’re excellent to enjoy on their own or paired with a decadent dessert (like this beautiful coffee cheesecake).

How to Make a White Russian

This recipe makes one cocktail.

Ingredients

Big Lebowski White Russian Lauren Habermehl For Toh 2Lauren Habermehl For Taste of Home

  • 1-1/2 ounces vodka
  • 1-1/2 ounces Kahlua
  • 3 ounces heavy whipping cream
  • Ice

Directions

Step 1: Break out the ice, dude

Fill a rocks glass (it’s the right cocktail glass for the job) with ice.

Step 2: Get the booze

Big Lebowski White Russian Lauren Habermehl For Toh 3Lauren Habermehl For Taste of Home

Pour the vodka and Kahlua over the ice.

Step 3: Make it creamy

Big Lebowski White RussianLauren Habermehl For Taste of Home

Top with a splash of cream (whipping or heavy) and stir. If you don’t have cream, you can use milk here as well, but the texture won’t be as velvety.

Tips for Making a White Russian Like The Dude

Here are a few tips for the tastiest White Russian ever.

  • Use the good stuff. Heavy cream really “ties this drink together, man” and gives it its decadence. However, you can swap for half-and-half, low-fat milk or even instant coffee creamer (like The Dude does) if you must. Need a non-dairy White Russian? Use coconut milk.
  • Don’t go overboard with the ice. While this delicious little dessert cocktail is incredibly gulp-able, you don’t want an abundance of ice to water down your drink. Go easy on the ice, or plan ahead and make some frozen coffee ice cubes instead. (Try using one of these funky and unique ice cube trays.)
  • Layer it. Slowly pour the cream over the back of a spoon if you want to try your hand at layering the drink. Otherwise, just mix the cocktail with a spoon or straw for a more uniform flavor.
  • Don’t forget the cocktail garnish. You can also make your White Russian more festive with a quick dash of nutmeg, a sprig of rosemary or a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Mix It Up, Dude

Putting a twist on easy cocktail recipes is part of the fun of crafting cocktails. While The Dude abides by the classic formula, feel free to put your own spin on this White Russian. Here are a couple of absolutely divine ways to switch up the flavors:

  • Mint White Russian: Add a splash of crème de menthe (also used to make Cary Grant’s stinger cocktail) and garnish with a candy cane.
  • White Cuban: Substitute the vodka for white rum. If you’re in the holiday mood, a spiced rum will do nicely as well.
  • Irish White Russian: Pour in a 1/2 oz. of Irish cream.
  • White Russ-Chata: Add a splash of RumChata Cream Liqueur to the finished cocktail.

Once you’ve mastered the White Russian, try crafting the similarly delicious, but slightly more advanced, Coffee & Cream Martini.

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Lauren Habermehl
Lauren Habermehl is a recipe developer, food photographer and creator of the blog, Frydae. She is a prolific quoter of FRIENDS, lover of weekend DIY projects and procrastinating fitness enthusiast who enjoys exploring the Milwaukee-area with her husband, daughter and ugly mutt named Tyson Doodles.