A White Russian is a decadent dessert cocktail made with vodka, Kahlua (or another coffee liqueur) and cream. It’s creamy, not overly sweet and has a great coffee flavor. It’s easy to make and even easier to drink. While sometimes the cocktail is stirred before serving to give it a uniform caramel color, other times it is simply layered together before serving.
As a dessert drink, White Russians are very satisfying, though they are not especially complex. To make mine a little more interesting, I used the same technique I used to make barrel-aged vanilla extractÂ and made my own barrel aged vanilla vodka to use as a base for the drink. Using small oaks staves and vanilla beans to add flavor to plain vodka, I let the mixture sit for about a week until the once-clear vodka took on a deep amber hue and started to smell a lot like my barrel aged extract! The vodka had clear notes of toasted oak and vanilla, as well as a smoothness that it lacked when it I started the aging process. The small staves allow more vodka to come into contact with the wood than would happen in a large barrel, so the “aging” process happens quite quickly.
This very tasty vodka served as the base of my drink. I stirred it together with some Kahlua, then poured the combination over ice and poured heavy cream on top. Some people like to lightly whip the cream before adding it to the drink to create a very clear delineation between the two colors of liquid, but I prefer to simply pour it on. I typically stir the drink before sipping it so I don’t just get a mouthful of cream! This twist on a White Russian is smooth, with distinct coffee and vanilla notes. It reminds me a little bit of an affogato-style dessert and if you’re a fan of coffee and espresso-based desserts, I know you’ll like this one too.
Barrel Aged Vanilla White Russian
1 1/2 oz Barrel Aged Vanilla Vodka
1 oz Kahlua
1 1/2 oz heavy cream
In a rocks glass, combine vodka and kahlua. Fill glass with ice and stir to combine the two ingredients. Top with heavy cream. Stir to combine before serving.
Small Batch Barrel Aged Vanilla Vodka
2 cups plain, good quality vodka (such as Smirnoff)
1 small oak stave, approx 4-inches long
2 vanilla beans, cut in half
Combine all ingredients in a mason jar and shake to combine. Allow to age in a cool, dark place for 6-8 days week, shaking occasionally. The vodka should take on a medium amber color and smell like vanilla when ready.
Makes 2 cups.