How to Make a White Russian

The White Russian is the delicious dessert cocktail everyone should know how to make.

Perfect in its simplicity, the White Russian is the after dinner drink everyone should learn to master (along with these classics). This delectable cocktail is just the thing if you have a sweet tooth but would prefer to skip dessert. It’s a zero fuss kind of drink that doesn’t need any fancy bar equipment. If you’re looking to try your hand at home bartending, trust us when we say the White Russian is almost universally loved by all.

What Is a White Russian?

One of the most recognizable of the dessert cocktails, the White Russian dates back to the mid-20th century. Despite its name, the White Russian doesn’t have Russian origins (just like Russian Tea), rather it gets its name from its main ingredient, vodka. White Russians are easy to make and only require three ingredients. Vodka meets Kahlua (or your coffee liqueur of choice) in equal proportions. A true White Russian finishes off with a helping of cream, but if you want to swap it out for milk, we won’t tell.

Get more Kahlua drink ideas.

The rich, moreish flavor of sweet coffee liqueur tempered with a dollop of cream tastes like a grown-up iced coffee. Because it’s a sweet but not overly sweet drink, the White Russian is excellent to sip on its own or if you want to treat yourself, would be a fantastic match for this beautiful coffee toffee cheesecake.

How to Make a White Russian

Crafting the perfect White Russian couldn’t be easier, even if you’re a cocktail novice. Here’s our complete recipe.

Ingredients

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

Step One: Break Out the Ice

Fill a rocks glass with ice. Check out these gorgeous vintage-style glassware sets to hook your cocktail cart up with something new.

Step Two: Craft Your White Russian

Add vodka and Kahlua (or other coffee liqueur). Top with cream or milk and enjoy.

How Do You Make a Great White Russian?

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

  • Use fresh cream from your local dairy. Don’t have fresh cream? Milk will do nicely as well and you can use low fat if you’re watching your waistline.
  • Don’t go overboard with the ice. While this delicious little dessert cocktail is incredibly gulp-able, if you need to run off and check on the chocolate pecan pie you have in the oven, you don’t want an abundance of ice to water down your drink.
  • Layer it. Slowly pour the cream over the back of a spoon if you want to try your hand at layering the drink or feel free to mix the cocktail with a spoon or straw for a more uniform flavor.

Want to put your own twist on this cocktail classic? Here are a couple of absolutely divine ways to switch up the flavors to tantalize your taste buds.

  • Mint White Russian: Add a splash of crème de menthe and garnish with a candy cane.
  • White Cuban: Substitute vodka for white rum. If you’re in the holiday mood, a spiced rum will do nicely as well.
  • Bailey’s White Russian: Pour in 1/2 oz of Bailey’s Irish Cream.
  • You can also make your White Russian more festive with a quick dash of nutmeg or cinnamon.

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

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Camille Berry
Part of the third generation in a family of restaurateurs, Camille was born with a passion for cooking and food. She embarked on a career in hospitality where she excelled as a sommelier and wine director. This hospitality experience has given her a wealth of first-hand knowledge about how to pair all manner of drinks with food—plus some serious kitchen skills. These days, she's hung up her wine key in favor of a pen and covers all aspects of food and drink.