Black Russian

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The Black Russian is a cocktail consisting of vodka and Kahlua.


Historical References

According to David Herpin this reference was originally 1965, now it seems changed to 1962, it doesnt really matter, because the real black russian dates far earlier. Here is what he says in an examiner article:

There is a lot of incorrect information about this drink out there; being spread everywhere and it has been going on for nearly as long as the drink has been around. So let's set the record straight, a few early printings of this drink are found here:

Program from The Cleveland Orchestra in 1963 "Simple, like all things of greatness, the Black Russian is sweeping the nation and has attained a new peak of popular demand. Are you ready? Kahlua Coffee Liqueur. Far and away the most popular coffee liqueur in the world!"

Official guide: New York World's Fair, 1964-1965 by Time, inc in 1964 "drinks and desserts as the Black Russian cocktail... Another collector's item: the rare and wonderful recipe book of Kahlua drinks and desserts"

It is fair to say that Kahlua is partially responsible for the confusion with this drink. They teamed with smirnoff in 1942 -1950's and placed several advertisements promoting a Kahlua and Smirnoff Vodka Black Russian in Time Magazine. This is why most cocktail historians believe that this drink was traditionally served with Kahlua. Gustav Tops may have made a kahlua and vodka drink for some royalty in the 1950's, although a search for the Hotel and Gustav Tops himself yielded no results. Even if it is true, it is not an original black russian.

The Black russian is closely associated with the Alexander and plays a role in the confusion with the Alexander also (why does the alexander call for light creme de cacao and the brandy alexander calls for dark?). This drink derives from believe it or not, A RUSSIAN (which we will talk about more indepth later). It has been right infront of us the whole time like we see here:

Loving Evie by Anthony Francis Caputi in 1974 "A drink they call a Russian. Vodka, gin, creme de cacao."

Time: Volume 106 by Briton Hadden, Henry Robinson Luce in 1975 "Double Russian: 1 oz. each Gordon's Gin and Gordon's Vodka and creme de cacao."

This drink is also known as a Russian Bear and the Black Russian dates between 1933-1940 and contained at least as of then:



Dark Creme de Cacao

No type of Ice is specified

You should stir this drink because it contains spirits only

Earliest Known Reference: "Oakland Tribune," Aug 22, 1962

With or without Cola?


Throughout Australasia, much of the UK and parts of Europe, many customers expect the cola variation when ordering a "Black Russian". While this is technically not the true original, depending on location and circumstances, a bartender should know when to check what is expected. Ordering a "Short Black Russian" vs a "Tall Black Russian" may help eliminate any confusion.

In Ireland, apparently the standard is a Tall Black Russian with a Guinness head

Common Recipes


  • Build
  • 1 1/2 oz vodka
  • 3/4 oz Kahlua
  • Fill with ice
  • Serve in a rocks glass

Recipe#2: Dale DeGroff, King Cocktail.

  • 1 oz. Kahlua
  • 1 oz. Vodka

Build over ice in an old fashioned glass.

Tall Black Russian

  • Build in a highball/collins glass
  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1/2 oz Kahlua
  • Fill with ice
  • Top with Cola

See Also

Links of Interest

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