Traditional White Russian Recipe

How to make a traditional white russian

No frills, hacks, or spins; we’re here to give you the best Traditional White Russian recipe. You’ll be able to make this recipe with just three simple ingredients, and understand why the White Russian has been a favorite cocktail for decades.

Where did White Russians Originate From?

The White Russian did not actually originate in Russia. In 1949, a Belgian barman named Gustave Tops created the Black Russian cocktail. The original Black Russian was just coffee liqueur and vodka. Still, something magical came over Gustave, and he added cream to the recipe, which is how the White Russian originated. 

White Russian = Black Russian + Cream.

Which coffee liqueur is used in a traditional White Russian?


At the end of the day, use any coffee liqueur you like, but Kahula is the winning coffee liqueur for our traditional White Russian. Made in Mexico, Kahula is made with coffee, sugar, and rum. While it’s not just coffee, it has a tiny bit of caffeine. So it’s good for a small pick-me-up, but it won’t carry you through the day.

Which Vodka is Used in a Traditional White Russian?

While any unflavored vodka will do the trick for a White Russian, we recommend using Smirnoff or Ketel One.

Both are premium liquors that won’t break the bank and keep your White Russian tasting delicious.

Should you use milk or cream in a traditional White Russian?

For a traditional White Russian, it’s cream all the way. The cream makes the traditional White Russian rich, creamy, and tasty. So we’d recommend using cream if you can.

You can, of course, use either milk or cream for a White Russian, depending on what your ultimate goal is. If you’re trying to cut out some calories, you can use low-fat milk. Or, if you’re about the dairy-free lifestyle, you could even use the nut milk of your choice. 

Another great option would be to use half & half. It’s the best of both worlds. You get cream and milk in one without taking in the extra calories you would usually get if you just used cream.

Which cream is best for White Russians?

Our recommendation would be light cream. It’s richer and thicker than whole milk but not as weighty as heavy cream. The key to a traditional White Russian is to make the cream an additive, not the star of the show.

Do you shake a White Russian or layer it?

Traditionally, you do not shake a White Russian. If you shake a White Russian, you will create more of a milkshake and miss out on the opportunity to drink it how it’s supposed to be consumed. You’ll need to layer the ingredients to get your cocktail’s best flavor and texture. 

How to layer the ingredients in a White Russian?

The key to layering a White Russian is to build it in the glass. You will start by filling a double rocks glass to the brim with ice. Filling with ice will help ensure that your White Russian stays cold while you enjoy it. 

Once you have the ice in there, you’ll go ahead with adding the vodka, then the coffee liqueur. Softly stir together, and then, carefully, add the cream on top. ​​If you pour the cream gently, you can make the cream “float” on top of the cocktail. The “float” is what makes the White Russian look so pretty. Then, stir the cream into the cocktail, and you’ve got your layered traditional White Russian.

Are White Russians Girly Drinks?

The Big Lebowski’s the Dude has shown White Russians can be enjoyed by anyone. While a White Russian isn’t a girly drink per se, that doesn’t mean a woman won’t drink it. Typically, fruity or sweet drinks are considered “girly.” Still, there’s something incredibly masculine and rich about combining coffee liquor, vodka, and cream. At the end of the day, whatever you like should be your top priority.

What’s the difference between a White Russian and a Caucasian?

Made famous by The Big Lebowski, the Dude refers to a White Russian as a Caucasian. So in the movie world, they’re the same thing. Thanks to the Dude, bartenders are rolling their eyes when customers ask for a Caucasian with a wink. Just call it a White Russian.

Are White Russians actually brown?

It all depends on how you like your White Russian. If you like the cream on top, it’ll be lighter. If you like to stir, the vodka, coffee liqueur, and cream will make the White Russian look slightly brown. But don’t fret; it’s still a White Russian even if it has a brown hue.

Traditional White Russian

5 from 2 votes


Traditional White Russian

Traditional white russians are simple to make and delicious. With just three ingredients, we'll show you how to make a perfect nightcap.




Classic White Russian, Traditional White Russian, White Russian, White Russian Recipe
Prep Time 2 minutes
Total Time 2 minutes
Servings 1 person
Calories 305 kcal



  1. Fill your low ball glass with ice.
  2. Add the vodka and coffee liqueur to the glass and mix them.
  3. Carefully add the cream to the top.
  4. Give a gentle stir to create the signature layered look.
  5. Enjoy!
Nutrition Facts
Traditional White Russian
Amount Per Serving
Calories 305
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

While making a cocktail for the first time can be confusing, the White Russian is one of the easiest to make. So be like The Dude, and make your first traditional White Russian today.

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