White Russian

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This recipe for White Russian is a classic cocktail recipe that can be served any time of the year. Vodka is mixed with coffee liquor and heavy cream for a creamy yet bold drink that you can sip after a long day or to enjoy at a party with friends! 

If you know a thing or two about classic cocktails, then surely you’ve heard of a White Russian. Believe it or not, this drink has no ties to Russia at all! In fact, it’s only in the name because it uses vodka as its main alcohol.

The White Russian is also a version of the Black Russian which contained just coffee liquor and vodka. The addition of cream and sweetness coined an entirely new drink that became incredibly popular in the US. This was especially after The Big Lebowski came out in 1998.

No matter how you’ve found this drink, making it at home from scratch is always a good idea. You’ll only need 3 ingredients along with ice to enjoy this creamy cocktail that always hits the spot!

Cocktail glass filled with ice, liqueur, and heavy cream.

White Russian Ingredients 

  • Vodka – The main alcohol in this cocktail, vodka gives this drink a strong boozy kick. 
  • Coffee Liqueur – Adds a subtle coffee flavor along with sweetness. You can use Kahlua or any similar type of coffee-based alcohol with cream.  
  • Heavy Cream – Turns this cocktail into an adult beverage by adding a creamy and slightly sweet flavor that cuts the strength of the vodka to make it smooth and sippable. 
  • Ice – Added to the glass to keep the drink nice and cold. 

How To Make A White Russian Drink

  1. Prepare the glass: Add ice cubes to a cocktail glass or an old-fashioned glass. Fill almost to the top. 
  2. Add the liquor: Pour in the vodka and the coffee liqueur. Give it a quick stir to combine. 
  3. Add the heavy cream: Place a spoon on the rim of the glass. Slowly pour the heavy cream over the back of the spoon into the cocktail with the other ingredients. Serve cold.
Collage showing how to make a white russian.

Recipe Tips

  1. For the best tasting White Russian, use high-quality vodka to make this drink.
  2. Ice made from distilled water gives the cocktail a beautiful presentation with clear ice.
  3. You can stir the ingredients together, or leave the cream separated for a beautiful cream swirl.
  4. Feel free to adjust the amounts of ingredients to suit your personal tastes.
  5. If you like a sweeter White Russian, feel free to add some simple syrup to the mix. 


  • Garnish your white Russian with a pinch of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice for warming Fall flavor.
  • If you’d like to make a lower calorie cocktail, any milk can be used as a substitute for heavy cream including whole milk or 2% milk. 
  • Make a frozen White Russian by blending the ingredients of this cocktail with ice. Serve in a chilled glass during the summer months. 
  • Make it spicy by adding a pinch of cayenne pepper to the liquor. 
  • Change up the flavor by adding a dash of vanilla or caramel simple syrup for a sweet dessert cocktail. 
  • Don’t like vodka? Try using gin, bourbon, or dark rum to replace the vodka in this easy cocktail. 
  • Baileys Irish Cream makes an excellent substitute for Kahlua or if you can’t find coffee liqueur. 
  • For a dairy-free White Russian, swap out the heavy cream for plant-based milk and make sure the coffee liqueur does not contain any dairy ingredients.
Cocktail topped with heavy cream.

Storing and Freezing

Storing: This cocktail is best made just before serving but can be made 8-12 hours in advance if making a large batch for a party. 

Freezing: If you happen to have any leftover White Russian, you can pour it into ice cube trays and freeze until solid. Use the cubes as ice for a stronger White Russian or turn it into a frozen cocktail by blending with milk.

When should you drink a White Russian?

The beauty of this cocktail is that it can be served any time! Because it has coffee, you can serve it for brunch or later in the evening as a post-dessert drink or for any happy hour!

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

While they are made with similar ingredients, a White Russian is made with heavy cream whereas a mudslide is made with Irish cream such as Bailey’s.

Does a White Russian need to be stirred?

This is 100% personal preference. If you’re serving just a few cocktails, you may want to keep the cream swirl unstirred for a beautiful presentation. If you’re making a White Russian for a crowd, you can mix all the ingredients together before serving.

What is Kahlua?

This popular coffee liqueur is made of rum, sugar, and arabica coffee. It’s the perfect way to add coffee flavor and sweetness to a white Russian. You can also use Tia Maria or Sheridan’s brand.

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White russian poured in a cocktail glass over ice.

White Russian

5 from 2 votes
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Author: Kimberly
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 1 Serving


  • ice
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce Kahlua, Kahlua or something similar
  • 1 ounce heavy cream


  • Place the ice in a cocktail glass. Add the vodka and coffee liqueur.
    2 ounces vodka
    1 ounce Kahlua
  • Press the tip of a spoon against the inside of the glass. Slowly pour the heavy cream over the back of the spoon to float the heavy cream over the other liquids.
    1 ounce heavy cream
  • Serve immediately. See post for tips!

Suggested Equipment


Serving: 1drink | Calories: 325kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 10mg | Potassium: 28mg | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 417IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 0.04mg


*The calories listed are an approximation based on the ingredients in the recipe card and a serving size of 1 drink. Actual calories will vary.
*For more information, tips, and answers to frequently asked questions, please refer to the post.
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