During the course of Ethan and Joel Coen's The Big Lebowski, Jeffrey “the Dude” Lebowski (Jeff Bridges) downs nine White Russians, thus making the sweet, creamy drink synonymous with the film. Despite its name, the cocktail was actually created in Belgium. In 1949, a bartender at the Hotel Metropole in Brussels invented a pair of coffee liqueur and vodka concoctions to honor Perle Mesta, the U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg. The White Russian had cream in it; the Black Russian didn’t. During the sixties and seventies, the White Russian’s sweetness and high alcohol count appealed to both “lightweights and lushes,” recalls master mixologist David Wondrich. After The Big Lebowski, the cocktail gained new fame and a bigger audience.
Over the years, fans have extended the cocktails shelf life by creating their own variations, often naming them after other characters from the film. As you get ready to watch The Big Lebowski, mix up the classic version or find a White Russian that speaks to your inner Dude.
1) Classic White Russian
The classic White Russian is basically three ingredients served chilled. Mix together one ounce Kahlúa (or other coffee-flavored liquor), two ounces vodka, and one ounce cream, milk, or half-and-half in a cocktail shaker with ice. Either strain into a glass or serve on the rocks. You can garnish with a sprig of mint or a cinnamon stick. Serve with something sweet like a piece of dark chocolate, a small brownie, or homemade cookie.
2) The Dude
Before it closed, the Wallflower bar in New York City’s West Village became famous for "The Dude," a light and frothy version of the White Russian. Upping the game, its creator Xavier Herit mixed cognac, real coffee, cream, and port with frothed egg whites. After trying it out, cocktail connoisseur Twilloryman wrote, "I could devour this in one swig." But be warned—enough of these will have you seeing flying bowlers in Viking helmets just like with the classic White Russian.
3) The Dude Abides
With the Dude's two great passions being White Russians and bowling, it was inevitable that the two should intersect. In Los Angeles, the lovingly restored Highland Park Bowl offers its patrons their special version of the White Russian called "The Dude Abides." The bowling alley's bar mixes Tito’s Vodka, house-made Civil Coffee Liqueur, Horchata Cream, and a cinnamon tincture into an icy slush. One customer wrote on Yelp, “My friend and I each got 'The Dude Abides,' and WOW I could probably drink an IV of those for hours.”
4) Jackie Treehorn
The Lebowski Bar in Reykjavík, Iceland offers a whole menu of White Russian-inspired drinks. One of their most noted versions is the "Jackie Treehorn," named after the villianous ponographer played by Ben Gazzara in the film. While the cocktail, like the character, might look nice and sweet, it's wicked on the inside. The Bar Lebowski’s "Jackie Treehorn" includes, according to Liquor.com, “Reyka vodka, Kahlúa, Mickey Finn chocolate liqueur, white cocoa and cream and is topped with Cocoa Puffs.”
5) The Dude’s Delight
The cocktail site Supercall pushes the envelope with "The Dude’s Delight." Mix together whole milk, cold brew coffee, Luxardo sambuca, vodka, and St. George Coffee Liqueur. Then garnish with cocoa powder. For New Orleans bartender Tim Webb, “The sambuca adds a level of complexity that will help you wake up in the morning and/or is a perfect end to a hearty meal.” Of course, the Dude was never that fancy. He even substituted powdered non-dairy creamer for half-and-half to make a White Russian at one point in The Big Lebowski.
6) El Dude
The owner of the San Francisco bar Elixir gives the classic White Russian a Mexican twist with "El Dude." Inspired by Oaxacan chocolate, the cocktail, according to Liquor.com, mixes together Tia Maria, Mezcal, Bols Natural Yoghurt liqueur, Ancho Reyes Chile liqueur, and Cannella cinnamon cordial. The blend is poured over crushed ice with a dose of heavy cream and a dusting of cinnamon added. "El Dude" abides.