White Russian

Toby Cecchini, Long Island Bar | Brooklyn, NY

The proto “White Russian,” called, simply, “The Russian,” (c. 1930) was comprised of equal parts vodka, gin and crème de cacao—and for a creamier version, two parts vodka, one part crème de cacao and one part cream. In the following 30 years, several other versions would fall in and out of vogue, until, at long last, the addition of coffee liqueur was introduced. The combination of equal parts vodka, Kahlúa and cream that we now know as the White Russian rose to prominence in the 1960s, alongside the Black Russian (which, naturally, omits the last ingredient).

But for those born after the drink’s ’60s heyday, it is perhaps best known as the signature drink of  the Dude (Jeff Bridges’ character in The Big Lebowski)—whose evangelism for the cocktail raised the White Russian from marginal to cult status. There now exist many variations on the drink (the White Canadian calls for goat’s milk and the Blind Russian for Bailey’s Irish Cream), but our preferred version is famed New York bartender Toby Cecchini’s riff, which allows for the option of aged rum instead of vodka, a new-school and old-school coffee liqueur and the added bonus of Toschi Nocello walnut liqueur and amaretto-spiked whipped cream.

  • 2 ounces vodka or rum (preferably Plantation 5-year Barbados Grande Réserve if using rum or Absolut Elyx if using vodka)
  • 1/2 ounce Kahlúa
  • 1/2 ounce Toschi Nocello
  • 1 ounce House Spirits Series Coffee Liqueur
  • 4 ounces heavy cream
  • 1/4 ounce amaretto (preferably Luxardo Amaretto di Saschira)

  1. Add heavy cream and amaretto to a cocktail shaker.
  2. Add the coil of a hawthorne shaker and dry shake, without ice, for ten seconds or more, to aerate but not whip into stiffness. It must be lightened but still pourable.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients to another cocktail shaker.
  4. Add ice and shake until chilled.
  5. Strain into a chilled coupe or rocks glass.
  6. Holding a slotted spoon closely over the surface of the drink, pour a finger's worth of cream through it to float atop of the drink.