While it doesn’t have speakeasy roots or a fashionably bitter edge, bartenders have taken a shine to the White Russian lately, updating it with artisan coffee liqueurs and infused syrups. But even with these high-minded tweaks, it remains an easy-drinking libation. Here are six of our favorite adaptations.
Vodka, coffee, coffee liqueur, and cream are mixed with vanilla liqueur in this cocktail, which sits somewhere between a classic espresso martini and a White Russian.
In this ode to The Big Lebowski’s signature drink, Xavier Herit, bartender at New York City’s Wallflower, concocted an upmarket riff on the White Russian with cognac, port, and real coffee in place of vodka and coffee liqueur. He advises using a dry shake, sans ice, to froth the egg white for this righteous libation.
For this hot version of the White Russian, bartender Isaac Shumway of San Francisco’s Tosca Cafe ditches the vodka, mixing brandy and coffee liqueur with a hot coffee-cream mixture, and topping with cappuccino-like crown of frothed cream.
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At House Spirits in Portland, Oregon, white whiskey takes the place of vodka in this interpretation of the White Russian. Drops of orange oil on top of the drink lend it a citrusy aroma.
Bartender Chantal Tseng of sherry-centric bar Mockingbird Hill in Washington D.C. uses sherry and peanut rum liqueur in this rich twist on the White Russian.
Almost a cross between a White Russian and an Irish coffee, H. Joseph Ehrmann of Elixir in San Francisco created this cocktail, which features potent green chartreuse, for the 2006 Chartreuse Cocktail Competition.