Perfect White Russian

Learn how to make a perfect white Russian cocktail with vodka, Kahlua, and cream. This simple cocktail is incredibly delicious, plus I’m sharing a few easy ways to make it your own.

White Russian Cocktail

My perfect white Russian ratio is 2 parts vodka, 1 part Kahlua (or other coffee liqueur), and 1 part cream, but you can adjust to your tastes (see variations below)!

For more simple cocktail recipes, try our kir royale, my favorite bourbon Manhattan, or this spiked cider.

Key Ingredients

  • Vodka: I prefer vodka for a classic White Russian, but you can also try gin, bourbon, or dark rum for a different twist.
  • Coffee Liqueur: I usually use Kahlua, but any coffee-flavored liqueur works (Tia Maria or Trader Vic’s Kona are good options). If you want to switch it up, crème de cacao makes a chocolatey cocktail, or amaretto gives it a nutty, almond flavor. If you have some coffee liqueur leftover, try my tiramisu recipe!
  • Cream: Heavy cream is my go-to for a rich, luxurious White Russian, but if it’s too heavy for you, half and half or even whole milk can be substituted. It might not layer as nicely, but it’ll still taste great.
Best White Russian

How to Make a White Russian

To make a white Russian, fill a small glass with ice. Add vodka and the Kahlua, then slowly pour cream on top. To get the cream to sit perfectly on top of the vodka and Kahlua, drizzle it slowly over the back of a spoon. Then, when you are ready to drink, swirl the cream into the drink.

There are also a few fun variations you can try:

  • Vegan White Russian: Swap the cream for coconut milk or your favorite nut milk (almond, oat milk, or cashew milk works well).
  • Bailey’s White Russian: This one’s simple: just swap the cream for Bailey’s Irish Cream. It’s like dessert in a glass!
  • Pumpkin Spice White Russian: Add 1/2 teaspoon of homemade pumpkin spice or stir in a little pumpkin butter.
  • White Russian with Whipped Cream: Swap the heavy cream for a big spoonful of homemade whipped cream.
How to make a white Russian: Adding the cream

Perfect White Russian

  • PREP

Use our white Russian cocktail recipe below as a guide. You can (and should) tweak the recipe to your tastes. If you like it boozy, increase the vodka or add cream for a more decadent cocktail. There are lots of substitutions you can make with this cocktail, too. See our article for popular variations.

Makes 1 drink

You Will Need

2 ounces (4 tablespoons) vodka

1 ounce (2 tablespoons) coffee liqueur such as Kahlua, Tia Maria, or Trader Vic’s Kona

1 to 2 ounces (2 to 4 tablespoons) heavy cream



    1Fill a small glass (or rocks glass) with ice.

    2Add the vodka and coffee liqueur and stir to mix.

    3Top with cream. To create a layered look, slowly pour the cream over the back of a spoon held over the surface of the drink.

    4Swirl the cream into the drink before drinking.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Kahlua substitutes: Try swapping out the coffee liqueur with crème de cacao or amaretto.
  • Vodka substitutes: Try swapping vodka for gin, bourbon, or dark rum.
  • The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We assumed 1 ounce of cream.
Nutrition Per Serving Serving Size 1 drink / Calories 317 / Protein 1 g / Carbohydrate 14 g / Dietary Fiber 0 g / Total Sugars 14 g / Total Fat 11 g / Saturated Fat 7 g / Cholesterol 41 mg / Sodium 12 mg
AUTHOR:  Adam and Joanne Gallagher
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6 comments… Leave a Review
  • Monica November 15, 2017, 9:15 am

    Love these! My husband and I were curious after watching the Big Lebowski recently, this cocktail is now in our repertoire.

    • Adam October 18, 2023, 1:49 pm

      So glad you enjoyed your cocktail 🙂

  • JulieD October 31, 2011, 1:17 pm

    Looks and sounds delicious! Thanks for linking up to my mojitos! 🙂

  • Ali October 30, 2011, 12:53 pm

    looks refreshing and soothing, love the photo.

  • JavelinWarrior October 29, 2011, 5:30 pm

    I seem to rarely drink anything with vodka because I have trouble getting past the alcohol’s wallop. But Baileys (and nutmeg) might just do the trick

    • inspiredtaste October 30, 2011, 9:37 am

      Bailey’s will definitely help — plus, if you really don’t want the vodka, you could just skip it in the recipe – the drink will still be delicious.



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