Retro Cocktail for December: B&W Russian
At the end of the Second World War, there was a charmed moment between America and the Soviet Union, before the Cold War set in and put us on a path of mutually assured destruction. Before the nuke measuring and fingers hovering over the button and imminent WWIII, there was an appreciation of our allies, the Ruskies, who helped us kick the Nazis’ butts and save the world. Consequently, many American GIs returned home as budding Russophiles, with a respect for Russian tenacity and grit, not to mention a newfound love of vodka. Before the war, few in the U.S. knew of this clear, potent, put-hair-on-the-chest spirit. But after VE Day, it was that new guy in the bar whom everyone wanted to meet. So there was the “Moscow Mule” and the “Vodka Gimlet” and “Vodka Martini” (shaken, not stirred), and in 1949, the “Black Russian”, followed shortly by the “White Russian” (made by the addition of cream).
And at first, this new cocktail was flavorful and exotic, in addition to being deceptively kickass. But then those damn Ruskies exploded the Big One and things got serious. And the “Black & White Russians” fell out of favor, and were even mocked as being simplistic and unsophisticated (like those Ruskies, even though they did come up with the H-Bomb and then Sputnik). And the decades passed, and with them the “B&W Russians” lapsed into oblivion. And they would have remained there if it weren’t for a movie in 1998, The Big Lebowski. Suddenly, the “White Russian” was resurrected and was even cool, being the signature drink of The Dude. And if one wanted to abide as well, then they needed to try this nearly forgotten cocktail.
Personally, I think it’s a great drink. Remarkably simple, open to numerous variations, and of course, strong like those Russian winters. Two parts vodka (at least) is required to achieve an abiding sense of kickassedness. And my personal favorite (see below) is the extra hot & spicy Mexi-Russian version, the “Trotsky en Méjico”. Enjoy…
BLACK RUSSIAN 2 parts Russian Standard Vodka 1 part Kahlúa Pour into an Old Fashioned glass filled with ice. Stir.
WHITE RUSSIAN 2 parts Russian Standard Vodka 1 part Kahlúa 1 part Half & Half or Heavy Cream (shake to thicken it) Pour the alcohol into an Old Fashioned glass filled with ice. Stir. Top with the thickened Half & Half or Heavy Cream.
You can substitute Baileys Irish Cream Liqueur or Godiva Dark Chocolate Liqueur for the Half & Half. Also, try substituting other coffee liqueurs for the Kahlúa. (See "kevin’s kaffee klatsch") As a finishing touch, add a dash of chocolate bitters.
TROTSKY EN MÉJICO 1 part Stolichnaya Vodka 1 part Absolut Peppar Vodka
1 part Kahlúa Chili Chocolate Liqueur
splash of fresh-squeezed Seville Orange juice Pour into an Old Fashioned glass filled with ice. Stir. Garnish with a dried chili pepper.