The Black Russian

The Black Russian cocktail on a wooden table in a rocks glass

The Black Russian is a simple-to-prepare cocktail made with two ingredients that are easy to keep on hand. This spirit-forward cocktail combines vodka and coffee liqueur served over ice—making it a flavorful dessert cocktail.

Its origins are not in Russia. The Black Russian was created in Brussels in 1949 by Gustave Tops, a Belgian bartender at the Hotel Metropole in Brussels.

It was named because vodka comes from Russia, and the dark color the coffee liqueur gives the drink. If you add heavy cream or milk, you’ve got a White Russian.

Most folks make this cocktail with Kahlua. But, you can also try switching up the coffee liqueur since there are several delicious brands at the store these days. (Ask our Wine & Spirits department.) We recommend using a good-quality, neutral vodka to allow the coffee liqueur flavor to shine through.

The Black Russian Recipe
Yields one cocktail

2 ounces vodka
1 ounce Kahlua coffee liqueur
Orange slice or cherry for garnish (optional)

Fill a large measuring glass with ice. Add the vodka and coffee liqueur. Stir with a bar spoon until the mixture is chilled (about 30 seconds).

Strain the liquid into an ice-filled rocks glass and garnish with an orange slice or cherry.

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