White Russians are one of my personal favorites to make. They’re simple, and I can’t count the number of people I’ve got drunk on this simple combination of Vodka, Kahlua, and half & half/soy milk/milk.

One of my favorite memories, though, is when I got Adriane unbelievably wasted on White Russians on New Years 2007 going to 2008. Adrienne is not much of a drinker, and these drinks are sweet and deceptively strong.  Which means she downed six of them in like an hour. It was awesome.  As a good host does, I clearly had to match her cocktail for cocktail, (What? It was only polite.) and out to Aggieville, we went. We meandered the ridiculousness that is Aggieville on New Years, with as many as 10,000 people in like six blocks. We navigated the sea of sightseers, who were there with us to watch the ball drop. We made it to our favorite bar where we were the last of the lucky to make it in before one in, one out. Then we had two more White Russians in honor of 2008, of course. Meandering back home after a stop at a house party, Adriane started to feel the effects and passed out. Memories, like the corners of my mind . . .

Enough reminiscing, more drinking

White Russian

1 oz. Vodka

1 oz. Kahlua

1 oz. Half & Half/Soy Milk/Milk

  • Add ice to a martini shaker.
  • Add all ingredients.
  • Shake dramatically.
  • Pour and enjoy!


This drink is not made the traditional way in multiple ways. Most White Russians have more vodka than what I’ve added, I think this gives in a nicer balance and brings out the taste of the Kahlua, which as coffee liqueur I love. It’s also easier to remember the proportions if you’re a little boozy. But it is slightly weaker than a more standard version of the cocktail.

Presentation: Traditional

Conventional wisdom on the White Russian is to do the drink the following way:

  • Take a rocks glass put in ice.
  • Pour the vodka over the ice.
  • Pour the Kahlua over the ice and vodka.
  • Float cream on top.

Like I said, traditional wisdom. Whenever I have had a White Russian that has had ice in it, I’ve never drunk them fast enough so the last part of the drink is just really watery. I’m personally not a fan of a watered-down White Russian, so I don’t drink them this way.

I’ve attached a picture of the traditional way of drinking them.

As you can see from the picture, even though you pour the Kahlua in second, it sinks to the bottom, actually mixing with the vodka before settling. This occurs because Kahlua actually has a lower density than vodka, so it sinks unless you mix it. Finally, by adding the milk you have a pretty but still somewhat layered drink. Personally, I think this way is obnoxious because if you don’t stir well enough, the Kahlua will be heavy on the bottom rather than balancing it out. However, the drink looks pretty. Michael also made a good point, this saves time for the bartender if you order this in a bar.

Presentation: In a Shaker

My drink looks like this from the side:

By mixing it in a martini shaker, you don’t have to worry about the Kahlua not mixing in or it becoming watered down, but you do have to worry about the same issue you have with all cream drinks. The faint layer of bubbles that occurs by mixing milk (or milk replacements) in a glass. This leaves a bubbly residue at the end of the drink.

Presentation: In & Out

This change does something a little different as well:

What I did with this drink was pour the ingredients in the glass, dump in the martini shaker (with the ice) and then dump all ingredients back into the glass (including the ice). By doing this, the Kahlua gets mixed up (unlike the first version of shaking) and you don’t have the bubbles (unlike the second.) The one problem that could exist is having the ice watering down the drink if you don’t drink it fast enough. Or if you are drinking it on the sunny beaches of Mexico, which I have been known to do (just the once). The drink stays good and consistent. Ultimately it’s just up to you on how you want to present it.

All three together:

Soy Milk

Finally, traditionally, this drink is made with either half & half or milk. Because of the distinct flavor of Kahlua, you can easily substitute the half & half or milk with soy milk with fairly minimal changes to the flavor.


Vodka: $15 for a 750 mL bottle

Kahlua: $18 for a 750 mL bottle

Soy Milk/Milk/Half & Half: $2-4 for a container

Total Cost: $35 – $37

As always, happy and safe drinking!