Black Russian cocktail

Black Russian Cocktail

By Timo Torner / Last updated on May 1, 2022 
The Black Russian is a simple two-ingredient cocktail. The blend of coffee liqueur and Vodka is a perfect base for many variations.

As you might know, the IBA lists a large variety of complex cocktails. But it also includes drinks that are pretty simple in terms of ingredients and preparation. A perfect example of this is the Black Russian. The cocktail consists of only two components and is easy to make. But it still makes for a delicious drink.

Because the list of ingredients for a Black Russian is that short, balancing them is crucial. The ratio will ultimately define how sweet the cocktail is.

But first, let's take a look at the origins of this cocktail and which variations are the most popular ones.

History of the Black Russian

The Black Russian recipe was invented in the late 1940s by Belgian bartender Gustave Tops. Back at that time, Tops was working at the bar in Hotel Metropole in Brussels - the capital of Belgium.

He created the Black Russian drink to honor the American Ambassador, Mr. Perle Mesta, who was one of his regular guests. It consists of two parts. 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 the finest arabica coffee beans, sugar, and Rum.

Hence, the name of the dark and boozy cocktail reflects the mix of both ingredients. And when the cold war began, the reference to Russia became even more self-evident. Russia was a daily topic during these days.


Naturally, Vodka has a significantly higher proof than Kahlúa. But the liqueur has a high alcohol level, too. Therefore, both of them combined will make a seriously potent drink.

And when you further consider that the classic ratio for a Black Russian is 2:1 (Vodka to Kahlúa), you know you will get a cocktail that could blow your socks off.

Prepping the drink is very simple. It just gets stirred with lots of ice and strained into a chilled glass with fresh ice. But as with many simple recipes, there's plenty of room for twists and riffs. Therefore there are many variations of the classic Black Russian recipe. So, keep on reading to find out more about them.

Black Russian variations

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

The movie is called "The Big Lebowski" and became a total cult. And this made the drink famous as well. In the film, Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski's favorite drink was the White Russian, which he often lovingly referred to as the "Caucasian".

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)

And this list goes on and on. It is not even close to being complete. The Black Russian recipe from Gustave Tops is the base to many, many more drinks.

Black Russian cocktail

Black Russian

A short and boozy 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 until the drink is well-chilled and strain it into a chilled glass over ice.


Serving: 3.25oz | Calories: 216kcal | Carbohydrates: 40.1g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 2mg | Sugar: 40.1g
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Related Cocktails

If you like the Black Russian and are looking for more cocktails with Kahlúa, I recommend to check out our posts about Espresso Martini or the Dirty Horchata.

Subscribe to Cocktail Society!

Receive our latest recipes, reviews, and insights - straight to your inbox.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating

Related Posts

Three Chelada cocktails with lime and Tajin

Classic Chelada - A Mexican Beer Cocktail made with Lime

Read More
Mt Fuji Shochu Martini

Mt Fuji Shochu Martini

Read More
Flying Frenchman cocktail

Flying Frenchman

Read More
Mezcal Mule cocktail

Mezcal Mule

Read More
Old Fashioned Samurai made with Shochu

Old Fashioned Samurai

Read More
Best beer cocktails

The 8 Best Beer Cocktails

Read More
Privacy PolicyContactAbout us
Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases from