Of Bars, Booze, and Bartending - Proving "Coughlin's Law" Invalid Since Feb '05

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The White Russian Bible

Pursuant to the previous post, my good friend Steve would like to learn more about mixing White Russians, and I'm happy to oblige.

Now, there's more than one way to skin this cat. Personally, I'm in the equal-parts camp, but others prefer the traditional version of more Vodka, less Kahlua. While I avoid using more than a half-ounce of liqueur in any drink, as liqueurs are very concentrated and heavy in flavor, I do make an exception when it comes to the Tavern Wench White Russian. Kahlua is delicious, even all by its lonesome in a two-ounce cocktail. It isn't as overpowering as some liqueurs; neither is Baileys Irish Cream, but that's another post...

The most important thing in keeping the White Russian classic is to avoid shaking it. Many bartenders make the error of using the tin until the drink is so disrupted that it resembles a chocolate milkshake. Please, please avoid this technique. There's beauty in simplicity; just build on ice and the cocktail will look gorgeous. The trick is an ever-so-slight swirl with a swizzle stick until the liquor and cream seem to just marry each other, like the most pleasant of shotgun weddings.

I once ordered a White Russian in a corporate-type restaurant; it was delightfully described in the after-dinner-drink menu, and I couldn't resist. Sadly, it arrived shaken, strained (gasp!!), and served in a footed coffee mug, with whipped cream and a dusting of cocoa on top. I thought I'd die from embarrassment.

The White Russian is such an easy, classic drink to make, and I encourage everyone to give it a whirl.

Tavern Wench's Favorite White Russian

Build on ice, in a snifter glass:
1 ounce Stolichnaya Vanilla Vodka
1 ounce Kahlua
Add a bit of ice after the liquor melt
Pour heavy whipping cream to just below the top of the snifter

Stir slightly
Serve and accept compliments

Just to keep it honest, the traditional White Russian would be made as follows:

Old-School White Russian

Build on ice, in a rocks glass:
1 1/2 ounces Vodka
1/2 ounce Kahlua
Add half-and-half to just below the top of glass (some recipes call for whole milk, but, just don't. Trust me.)
Stir slightly
Serve, and accept muted compliments. You can do better.

There are many variations to the White Russian. Two of my favorites:

The Colorado Bulldog

Build on ice, in a rocks glass:
1 ounce Vodka
1 ounce Kahlua
Add a splash of half-and-half
Top with Coca-Cola, stir slightly
Serve, and accept compliments. Who knew Cola, Cream and Booze could live so delectably happy together?

For your less-decadent, weight-conscious customers, or if you're just feeling puffy and in need of a good buzz, try this version:

The Anna Kournikova

Build on ice, in a rocks glass:
1 ounce Vodka
1 ounce Kahlua
Add skim milk to just below the rim of the glass; stir slightly
Serve, and accept compliments. It'll do. And you won't feel all that guilty.

I do hope you enjoy exploring the wonderful world of the White Russian. Consider making a pitcher of your favorite variation, and invite some friends over to watch "The Big Lebowski." Or even "Gorky Park."

In keeping with the theme, I offer a classic, Cold War lyric to send you off with. It seems so dated now, just typing it, especially on this, the night of the 2007 State of the Union. Come to think of it... it doesn't seem dated, if you just substitute one or two words...

At any rate, lift your White Russians and toast to better, more peaceful days. Cheers!

There is no historical precedent
To put words in the mouth of the President
There's no such thing as a winnable war
It's a lie we don't believe anymore
Mr. Reagan says we will protect you
I don't subscribe to this point of view
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too
We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
What might save us, me and you
Is that the Russians love their children too

- Sting, "Russians"

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