White Russian outranks all other cocktails in online searches by Alex Van Buren
Even non-fans of The Big Lebowski can appreciate the drink’s easy-like-Sunday-morning, simplistic charms: vodka, Kahlúa, heavy cream. Abigail Gullo, the bar chef of New Orleans’ SoBou, admits to a soft spot for a drink that, as historian David Wondrich mentioned to us, was a hit in the disco ’70s.
Gullo (also a Lebowski fan), remembers drinking White Russians all around Dublin when she lived there many years ago. “Irish milk is so creamy and so fresh because the cows are right next door,” she remembers. “They didn’t have Kahlúa, but they would use Tia Maria.”
These days Gullo serves a sophisticated riff on the concoction at SoBou but emphasizes technique. “I’ve yelled at bartenders before who layer the drink. To me this is really a shaken drink.” Gullo points to the fact that shaking the drink with ice “aerates it; it adds all these little air bubbles.” When properly done, it reminds her of “a coffee milkshake, my favorite kind.”
Although Gullo thinks the classic combo is “fine,” she prefers “something with a bit more coffee oomph, such as Galliano Ristretto liqueur or Luxardo Espresso.” For vodka, she loves Cathead pecan vodka, as its nuttiness “balances well against the roastiness of the espresso.” She tops it with fresh-grated cinnamon and nutmeg, calls it The Dude Abides, and says it’s something “I’m very proud to serve at my bar.”
The best bit? It’s listed on the menu alongside the words: “This drink really ties the room together.”
The Dude Abides
From Abigail Gullo, SoBou
- 1 1/2 oz Cathead Pecan Vodka
- 3/4 oz Averna cream
- 1/2 oz Luxardo espresso liqueur
- Splash of cream
Shake hard and strain into a large old fashioned glass with a few fresh cubes of ice. Top with freshly grated cinnamon and nutmeg.