Maybe you’ve seen the Black Russian on a cocktail menu at your favorite bar. Maybe you’re looking for a lower-calorie version of the famous White Russian. Or maybe you’re just looking for a delicious, cozy cocktail to try tonight!
Whatever you’re looking for, we’re pretty sure you’ll enjoy a homemade Black Russian. Here’s a simple Black Russian recipe, plus brewing tips and easy ways to customize your drink.
What’s a Black Russian?
Black Russians are simple cocktails that taste surprisingly complex. They’re made with vodka and coffee liqueur like Kahlua — and the name comes from the dark color of the liqueur. The White Russian is much better known, but it’s really a variation of the original Black Russian.
This cocktail dates back to the 1940s when a bartender in Brussels named Gustave Tops whipped it up for an American ambassador. It’s a delicious wintry cocktail, perfect for a cozy night at home or an impressive after-dinner drink to serve your coffee-loving guests.
Black Russian Recipe (With Homemade Coffee Liqueur)
- Mason jar
- Cocktail glass
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons instant coffee
- 1 dash vanilla extract
- 2 cups vodka or rum to taste
Black Russian Cocktail
- 2 ounces vodka
- 1 ounce coffee liqueur or Kahlua
- Heavy cream or cola optional
- Maraschino cherry optional
Make the coffee liqueur.
- Simmer the water, brown sugar, and white sugar in a saucepan over medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and add instant coffee. Stir thoroughly and let the mixture cool.
- Pour the mixture into your jar and add the vodka or rum and vanilla extract. Stir thoroughly or give the jar a good shake.
- You can drink your coffee liqueur right away, but the flavors will improve if you let it sit. Leave your coffee liqueur in a dark, room temperature space for 10 days to two weeks.
Make the cocktail.
- Add ice to a cocktail tumbler.
- Pour in one ounce of your coffee liqueur and two ounces of vodka.
- Stir vigorously to combine and chill the ingredients.
- Then top with a splash of cream or cola if you’d like to mellow the flavor. A Maraschino cherry makes a nice garnish, too. Enjoy!
Black Russian Tips & Customizations:
Now you have the basic Black Russian process down. But what if you’d like to vary it a little? Here are our suggestions:
Kahlua vs Homemade Coffee Liqueur
The above recipe involves making coffee liqueur at home. It’s a surprisingly simple process that yields impressive flavor — and saves you a bundle of money, too.
But if you don’t want to wait 10 days for the flavors to develop, store-bought Kahlua is a tasty option. Kahlua is a Mexican liqueur made with rum, sugar, and coffee — and it’s delicious in a lot of other recipes, too.
A classic Black Russian only has two parts: vodka and coffee liqueur. But you can also add a little cream or fill the rest of your glass with Coca-Cola. Adding cream will make your Black Russian into a White Russian, and when you add soda, the drink is called a Colorado Bulldog. We also like adding a maraschino cherry for a bartender-level garnish. You may even feel like you’re in a hotel bar, instead of your living room!
The Bottom Line
We hope you enjoy your Black Russian! This cocktail is highly complex and flavorful — but easy to prepare at the same time. So skip the high prices at your local cocktail bar and try making this delicious coffee cocktail at home. You may never go back!
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