And so have I.
This is the traditional White Russian recipe:
Combine in a glass with ice:
- 1 part Kahlua
- 1 part vodka
- 1 part cream/half&half/milk (depending on taste)
That’s the old recipe.
Here’s the rub. Drinks with dairy or fruit juice that are not highballs (mixer with a single spirit) are traditionally shaken, not stirred. There’s a good reason for this — it makes the drink colder, it combines the cloudy ingredients better, and in the case of dairy or egg, foams the drink.
Stirring has its own advantages for clear spirits. It doesn’t knock volatiles out of the spirit or over-incorporate air (both things you don’t want to do with gin, especially.)
So why is a White Russian stirred? Because a White Russian is a variation on a Black Russian, which does not have dairy. Since it is Kahlua and vodka, it should be stirred. When they turned it into a White Russian, they kept stirring it. It’s how the Dude makes his (although he also uses non-dairy creamer on occasion, a habit I simply cannot endorse, even as a Dudist.)
So I had to give it a try. I shook a White Russian. Everything I had suspected was confirmed. Shaking this drink perfects it, and it was good to start with. I would say that for this, cream is necessary. If you do this with milk, you are robbing yourself. Shake it with cream, vodka and Kahlua. It gets frothy and thick like a milkshake (you need the cream for that — the same process as with whipped cream happens, as the proteins entangle with the fat, and you need cream for that to happen, not milk). The volatiles that normally get contained in it are released, and it gets an amazing nose. It’s milkshake cold, and absolutely wonderful.
My only mistake with it was that I served it traditionally, over rocks. The milk solids in the cream coated the ice, which was unpleasantly ugly, and it didn’t really add any cold. From now on, I’m shaking it and serving it up in a cocktail glass, like an Alexander.
And that is how you stop making White Russians wrong.