Black Russian Recipe

By Timo Torner / Last updated on April 27, 2023

The Black Russian is a simple two-ingredient cocktail. The blend of coffee liqueur and vodka is delicious and has been the base for many variations.
Black Russian cocktail

The IBA (International Cocktail Association) lists a large variety of complex cocktails, and it also includes drinks that are pretty simple. A perfect example of this is the Black Russian. It is incredibly easy to make, thus, a great cocktail to mix at home.

Quick Facts Black Russian Cocktail

  • Method: stirred
  • Flavor profile: boozy coffee, with a good balance of sweet & dry
  • How to serve it: over ice
  • Best glassware: rocks glass
  • Alcohol content: ~ 27% ABV, 24 grams of alcohol per serving 

With the list of ingredients for a Black Russian being that short, balance is crucial: The ratio will define how sweet your cocktail is.

Black Russian cocktail Recipe

Black Russian Cocktail Recipe

The legendary mix of Vodka and coffee liqueur
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Belgian
Keyword: vodka
Servings: 1
Calories: 216kcal
Cost: $2.60


  • 2 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz Kahlúa


  • Add both ingredients to a mixing glass with plenty of ice.
    2 oz Vodka, 1 oz Kahlúa
  • Stir for 15 to 18 seconds until the drink is well-chilled.
  • Strain it into a chilled glass over fresh ice.


Serving: 3.25ozCalories: 216kcalCarbohydrates: 13.1gSodium: 2mgPotassium: 2mgSugar: 13.1g
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Ingredients with Recommendations

Considering that the classic ratio for a Black Russian is 2:1 (vodka to Kahlúa), you know you will get a seriously potent cocktail. If you want a drink that's not too thin, it's crucial to get a coffee liqueur with the right consistency:

  • Vodka: Use a product of decent quality. While it is true that the sweetness and aromatic taste of the coffee liqueur can mask a harsh alcoholic bite to a degree, vodka still makes up two-thirds of the drink. So you will taste low quality, and it will also leave you with a headache the next morning. 
  • Coffee liqueurKahlúa is the traditional choice and part of the original recipe. Yet, other brands like Tia Maria work too. If you want something with a real git of caffeine, try Mr. Black. However, the liqueur will need a slightly thick and syrupy consistency to get an outstanding Black Russian with s smooth texture.

Best Practices

Prepping this vodka cocktail is very simple, but we have some tips and tricks to help you make the Back Russian Drink perfect:

Stir for at least 20 seconds to create the required dilution from the melting ice and to chill the ingredients. Ideally, you get the vodka and the coffee liqueur straight out of the fridge.

Strain it over fresh ice into a rocks glass. Further, to minimize dilution after you have poured your Black Russian, best use large and clear ice cubes. They will melt slower than smaller sizes cubes with lots of particles and air pockets. 

Black Russian Variations

The most popular variation of the drink is the White Russian. In fact, nowadays, it is even more popular than the classic version. Adding fresh cream turns the Black Russian into a creamier and silkier cocktail. Invented in the 1960s, it was a movie from the 90s that brought the drink to fame.

Other famous twists on the classic recipe are, for instance:

  • The Dirty Black Russian (topped with coke)
  • The Black Magic (with an additional splash of lemon juice)
  • The Irish Russian (topped with Guinness)
  • The Mudslide (adding cream & Irish cream

History of the Black Russian

The Black Russian cocktail was invented in the late 1940s by the Belgian bartender Gustave Tops. Tops, who used to work at the bar in Hotel Metropole in Brussels, created the recipe to honor the American Ambassador, Mr. Perle Mesta, who was one of his regular guests.

The first element is vodka, the symbol of Russian (drinking) culture. The second one is Kahlúa, which is a famous coffee liqueur from Mexico and made of arabica coffee beans, sugar, and Rum. Thus, the name of the dark and boozy cocktail reflects the mix of both ingredients and the resulting color. 

Related Cocktails

If you like the Black Russian and want to mix more cocktails with coffee liqueur, I recommend trying these: 

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