the recipe for the black russian cocktail: a white russian variation

The Black Russian is an iconic and popular cocktail that is also very easy to make. It is probably one of the simplest of all the cocktails to make. It contains just two ingredients: Vodka and a coffee liqueur.

This drink can be viewed as a variation of the more popular dessert drink known as the White Russian or the Dirty Black Russian cocktail. The cocktail is usually served as a low ball over ice cubes also known as on the rocks. The drink is usually served with no garnish.

The IBA specifies a proportion of 5 parts vodka and 2 parts of coffee liqueur. But you could alter the proportion to suite your taste. A higher proportion of the coffee liqueur will make the drink sweeter.


  • 2.5 shots of Vodka
  • 1 shots of Coffee Liqueur (Kahlua or Tia Maria)
  • Ice Cubes


  • Chill an old fashioned or a low ball glass with ice cubes
  • Add 2.5 shots of Vodka into the glass over the ice
  • Add 1 shot of Coffee Liqueur of your choice to the glass.
  • Stir the contents well using a stirrer or a bar spoon until it is well mixed
Dirty Black Russian with Kahlua

Variations and Similar Drinks

Black Russian itself is a variation of the White Russian, which is probably the popular of the two cocktails. The two drinks differs in that the White Russian is served with cream or  milk (or any diary variant) while Black Russian does not contain any cream.
Tall Black Russian: This is served as a highball cocktail rather than the lowball traditional Black Russian. The drink could be topped off with Cola of your choice, then it is also referred to as the Dirty Black Russian.
Smooth Black Russian: Another highball variation of the drink but unlike the Tall Black Russian is topped off with Guinness Stout instead of the Cola. This is also known as the Irish Russian.
Brown Russian: Another highball variation where the third ingredient used to top off is Ginger Ale.

Tips and Notes

  • You can shake the ingredients in a cocktail shaker as with a martini instead of stirring. Then strain it over ice into the short-ball.
  • As Vodka itself does not have any definitive taste, and that the coffee liqueur has a sweet taste, this can also be served as an (not so sweet) after dinner dessert drink. Increase the proportion of coffee liqueur.
  • The popular coffee liqueur of choice is Kahlua or Tia Maria, but you could use any other as well. Usually Kahlua is the liqueur of choice.
  • A shot in the above recipe refers to about 1.5 oz.