Today we’re shaking up perhaps the most famous cocktail in cinema, the White Russian, with Black Cow, a vodka distilled from milk. Whatever next!

There are some cocktails that are inextricably linked with films or TV series: like the Cosmopolitan in ‘Sex and the City’, ‘Mad Men’ and Martinis and the Tequila Sunrise in, um, ‘Tequila Sunrise.’ But the union of drink and film reaches its apotheosis in the Coen Brothers’ 1998 fim, ‘The Big Lebowski.’ It’s now not possible to drink a White Russian without thinking of Jeff Bridges as The Dude in his dressing gown saying: ‘careful man! There’s a beverage here!’ The film, which initially had an underwhelming response on its launch, has become a cult favourite with Big Lebowski-themed evenings involving the consumption of many White Russians.

The cocktail also known in the film as a Caucasian (cos it’s white) is a derivation of the Black Russian (a mixture of vodka and coffee liqueur) with cream and/or milk added to it. Both Russians, Black and White are relatively recent cocktails, the Black was first mentioned in 1949 and the White in 1965. The big question is should you use cream or milk in your cocktail. Well, the Dude uses both. Fans of the film will recall the Dude paying for a carton of half and half in Ralphs with a cheque for 69 cents. For non-American readers, half and half is a mixture of milk and cream weighing in at about 10% dairy fat (and Ralphs is a chain of Californian supermarkets). Personally, I prefer my White Russians a little lighter so would just use whole milk, with about 4% fat. The other ingredients are vodka and coffee liqueur, the Dude uses Kahlua but you can use Tia Maria. Or there are other coffee liqueurs out there, or you could even add a shot of espresso, though you might want to sweeten it a bit then.

With real dairy goodness

Finally vodka, the Dude uses Smirnoff. But we’ve got something that’s custom built to go with dairy products because it is itself a dairy product. Black Cow vodka was launched back in 2012 by dairy farmer Jason Barber and his friend Paul Archard. It’s made by fermenting the whey, the liquid left over from making cheese, and distilling it. They then filter the vodka through coconut-shell charcoal. The result is something distinctly creamy and dairy, but at the same time tasting clean and fresh like a vodka should. It sounds a bit weird, but it really works. 

There are tonnes of variation on the classic White Russian. Our favourite is the addition of ice cream and then blending it to create a decadent boozy milkshake. But today, we’ve just kept it classic. With it’s simple sweet flavours, high dairy content and coffee kick, the White Russian is the perfect cocktail for when you just got up, or look like you’ve just got up. Which is perhaps why the Dude likes them so much. 

Right, got your dressing gown? Got your Creedence tapes? Let’s make a White Russian!

35ml Black Cow Pure Milk Vodka
35ml full-fat milk
35ml Kahlua 

Add all the ingredients to an ice-filled shaker, shake quickly and strain into an ice-filled tumbler.