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Easy White Russian (Classic Cocktail Recipe)

This classic White Russian cocktail recipe is easy, smooth, and beginner-friendly!

Nothing quite beats this iconic drink. Creamy, rich, and indulgent, this cocktail is dangerously delicious. It tastes like dessert in a glass

Glass of White Russian Cocktail
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Creating a classic White Russian is super easy. All you need are three ingredients: vodka, Kahlúa, and heavy cream. It takes 2 minutes, tops.

As the heavy cream mixes with vodka and Kahlúa, it creates a decadent treat. 

Some compare it to a boozy iced latte. Others say it’s like a spiked mocha. Whatever you compare it to, it’s one irresistible drink. 

So go on and treat yourself to a classic white Russian. You won’t regret it!

What Is a White Russian? 

“Hey, careful, man, there’s a beverage here!” And that beverage is none other than the white Russian.

If you’ve ever watched the 90s cult favorite The Big Lebowski, you know it well. The white Russian is a creamy concoction made with vodka, coffee liqueur, and heavy cream.

The drink exploded in popularity at the turn of the 20th century. But it’s actually been on the scene longer than that.

In the 1940s, American ambassador to Luxembourg Perle Mesta was at a bar in Brussels. The bartender, Gustave Tops, decided to create a new beverage for her. So he combined Russian vodka with Kahlúa. And the name of this new cocktail? The Black Russian

Fast-forward to the 1950s, when adding a pour of heavy cream became popular. This practice turned the dark beverage into the classic White Russian.

Decadent and indulgent, yet unpretentious, it’s just as smooth as “The Dude.”

Cream Pouring on Vodka To Make a White Russian Cocktail


Grab a glass, add the ice, and build your drink. Here’s a list of the ingredients you need:

  • Ice. One of the most overlooked ingredients! Fresh ice cubes are best. If they sit around in the freezer for too long, they can pick up other flavors.
  • Vodka. Choose any brand you like. The other ingredients are very rich. So they mask any impurities.
  • Kahlúa. The coffee liqueur of choice! It has a rich flavor of coffee and sweet butter. Although it’s traditional, you can swap it out for other brands of your choosing.
  • Heavy cream. A signature ingredient of this drink. As it cascades down the glass, it adds a luscious mouthfeel. Without it, this cocktail would be a Black Russian.
White Russian Cocktail in an Old Fashioned Glass

How to Make a White Russian 

The white Russian looks impressive, and it’s easy to make. Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Prep and pour. Fill an old-fashioned glass with ice. Pour vodka and Kahlúa on top.
  1. Float the cream. Pour heavy cream over the back of a spoon over the vodka and Kahlúa.
  1. Stir and sip. Gently stir it and enjoy!

Best Vodka For a White Russian 

So what’s the best vodka to use for a White Russian? Great question!

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The best vodka is one you like to drink. Other than that, choose an inexpensive bottle and avoid top-shelf stuff. 

Tito’s is my go-to. Smirnoff is a decent option, too.

The heavy cream and the Kahlúa are strong and overpowering. So they disguise the nuances and impurities. 

But that doesn’t mean you should go with something super cheap! Low-quality vodka doesn’t taste good. It can ruin the drink. 

Mixed White Russian Cocktail

Tips & Variations

The White Russian is a very simple cocktail. But don’t just throw it together. 

Abide by these tips and variations to create the best white Russian:

  • Use a heavy cream substitute. Heavy cream is divine! But other alternatives like full-fat milk or plant-based options work, too. It’s your call.
  • Add a flavor twist. Experiment with various vodka types or Kahlúa flavors like salted caramel or vanilla to jazz things up. You can also add other liqueur flavors like amaretto or Irish cream.
  • Try a brand beyond Kahlúa. Kahlúa reigns supreme. But other coffee liqueur brands like Firelit, New Deal, or Leopold Bros. will also work.
  • Stir before you sip. Keep that iconic layered look when serving it. But give it a stir before enjoying it, mixing all those delicious flavors.
  • Chill the glass. Chilling the glass beforehand helps keep your drink cold longer.
  • Enjoy it post-dinner. The white Russian is not a happy hour sort of drink. It’s very rich and heavy. So it’s best enjoyed as a nightcap.
  • Make it a black Russian cocktail. Just skip the heavy cream.

Easy White Russian (Classic Cocktail Recipe)




This classic white Russian cocktail recipe is a must-have! Made with vodka, Kahlua, and heavy cream, it’s such an iconic drink.


  • Ice

  • 2 ounces vodka

  • 1 ounce Kahlua

  • 1 ounce heavy cream


  • Fill an old-fashioned glass with ice cubes. Pour in the vodka and Kahlua.
  • Gently pour the heavy cream over the back of a spoon so it floats on top of the other ingredients. Stir gently to mix it, or leave it layered if preferred.
  • Serve it immediately and enjoy!
White Russian

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author avatar
Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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