The History of the White Russian

An article I wrote for Chilled Magazine.

Made with vodka, coffee liqueur, cream, and served over ice in an Old-Fashioned glass, the White Russian is a sweet and simple cocktail enjoyed by people who drink often and those who rarely do.

The White Russian was originally a variation of another vodka drink that first became known in the late 1940s as the Black Russian. It became a White Russian with the addition of cream. Neither drink originated in Russia, but both are named due to vodka being the primary component. It is said that the Black Russian originated in Brussels, Belgium.

Its potency and smooth flavor was most likely the cause of the White Russian’s quick rise to popularity, along with the fact that it’s easy to make. It was a top pick for both alcoholics and beginners in the 1970s, but fizzed out with the rest of the disco fads. Years later, the cocktail regained popularity in the 1998 film, The Big Lebowski by being a favorite of the movie’s protagonist, Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski, played by Jeff Bridges. America’s restored appreciation for coffee may also be bringing the White Russian back into style.

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