Yes, that’s right, you heard correctly. A Caucasian, a White Russian or whatever else you like to call it. We’ll have one of those.” When the couple sitting to our left placed their drink order, we nearly feel off our stools, After all, we were in an Italian wine bar, and that request seemed almost as unusual as ordering a Pina Colada. But as they slurped down their drinks in record speed, our thoughts of disbelief quickly turned to jealousy. After a bottle or two of acidic red Italian wine, a White Russian seemed like a pleasant change of pace.
Now, it’s been a few years since we placed that order and as we requested our drinks we felt the need to caveat. It went something like this, “um, so those people sitting next to us were drinking a White Russian, and its been years since we’ve had one, and well, if it’s good enough for “The Dude” well, maybe we were thinking, perhaps we would like to try one too.” The bartender laughed at our unabashed hesitation and told us a little something that surprised us. Apparently, this time of year, when the fall just begins to add that pleasant chill to the air, White Russians make their reappearance. The bartender went on to say, “don’t be so embarrassed, this is the fifth one I’ve made this weekend. This time of year they seem to be pretty popular.” This took a moment to settle in. As we quickly threw back our White Russian, we let this thought marinate. Could we be in the thick of “The Dude Effect”?
(Editors note: If you have no idea what we are talking about, quickly add “The Big Lebowski” to your Netflix list.)
So in the sake of research we went out to test this theory. We visited bars of all sorts to see if the White Russian was back and who made them the best. We visited old school bars, new bars, hotel bars and even your east village hipster hangout. And the verdict is in, we New Yorkers’ love ourselves a good White Russian. Now, before we go any further, let’s examine what exactly is in a White Russian, because you’ll probably claim that “its been a while.” The typical White Russian is made with one part vodka, one part Kahlua and cream or milk. After a great deal of tasting (and a few pounds later) it turns out we are partial to cream. The fat kid, deep down inside, loved this assignment a little too much. As it turns out, we were not alone. Many of our friends volunteered to help with the research.
So where do you go to get a good stiff White Russian? Basically anywhere. As it turns out, because the recipe is fairly simple, there is little deviation in taste from place to place. However, what separates a good White Russian from a great, is definitely the milk. Our two favorites were from Otto, where it’s made with delicious, ice cold, creamy milk and at the Soho Grand, where it’s made with thick, rich cream.
For the rest of the week we walked around this city ordering our drink without hesitation or apologies. We knew we weren’t alone in our love for this milkshake-like frosty cocktail. And for those who still look down their nose, thinking this cocktail is child’s play, perhaps they’re right. But that inner child of ours is pretty damn happy.