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Home » Black Russian Recipe: The Best Cocktail For Coffee Lovers?

Black Russian Recipe: The Best Cocktail For Coffee Lovers?

The traditional Black Russian drink pairs vodka and coffee liqueur, so it’s already a favourite among coffee lovers. But we wanted to pack even more coffee flavour into this simple drink. Our Black Russian recipe adds cold brew coffee for a sweet, smooth, and easy-drinking cocktail begging to be served at brunch.

What You Need

  • 60 ml vodka
  • 30 ml coffee liqueur
  • 30 ml cold brew concentrate
  • Dash of orange bitters
  • Ice cubes
  • Maraschino cherry (optional, for garnish)
  • Rocks glass

At a Glance


5 minutes


240 ml drink

Black Russian Ingredients

The first Black Russian is credited to a Belgian bartender, Gustave Tops, who created it at the Hotel Metropole in 1949 to satisfy a visiting American ambassador. Its only link to Russia is the vodka it contains (1).

Black Russians quickly grew in popularity due to the social standing of the ambassador. But over the decades, the White Russian and the Espresso Martini became more popular coffee with alcohol options (2).

Coffee Lover’s Black Russian Canadian recipe

Alcohol Options

There are no strict rules for the choice of liquor, so use your favourite vodka, though Russian vodka is the best way to honour the name of the Black Russian. Some cocktail fans suggest a vanilla vodka in Black Russians for a sweeter drink with floral notes.

Kahlua is the most common coffee liqueur in Black Russian. Made in Mexico, it combines rum, sugar, and Arabica coffee; we already know the Kahlua and coffee mix is terrific (3). However, experiment with other coffee liqueurs to adjust the flavour profile.

Choice of Coffee

The easiest way to make this Black Russian drink recipe is to buy prepared cold brew concentrate at the store. Alternatively, making cold brew concentrate is incredibly simple but slow. For homemade cold brew concentrate, combine coarse ground coffee and cold water in a 1:4 ratio in a mason jar. Let it steep for 24 hours, then strain it to remove the grounds.

You can use hot brewed coffee that has been chilled, but it will be more acidic and lack the smooth sweetness of cold brew that balances this cocktail.

How To Make a Black Russian Cocktail

This Black Russian cocktail has only three key ingredients, so making it hardly even warrants a recipe. We’ve broken it down into two steps, each with a pro tip to make it extra special.

1. Combine The Main Ingredients

Add ice to a 240-ml glass. Add vodka, coffee liqueur, and cold brew concentrate to the ice-filled glass. Stir with a bar spoon for 30 seconds to thoroughly mix and chill everything.

Pro tip: To increase the coffee flavour, use coffee ice cubes, which you can make by freezing brewed coffee or cold brew in an ice cube tray. Rather than watering the drink down as they melt, they make it more delicious.

2. Garnish And Enjoy!

Your Black Russian cocktail is already done, but a few extra ingredients take it from good to great.

Stir in a dash of orange bitters to up the flavour complexity. A splash of club soda can be added for a carbonated mouthfeel.

Top it off with a maraschino cherry. The fruity sweetness of the cocktail cherry can be overwhelming in the traditional drink. Still, it pairs exceptionally well with the slight bitterness of the cold brew in this Black Russian version.

Pro tip: If you don’t like the sweetness or flavour of cocktail cherries, use a burnt orange peel garnish to add a smoky citrus flavour. Hold a strip of orange peel against a lighter, then drop the flamed peel into the glass.

Final Thoughts

The Black Russian is one of the simplest cocktails, even when you take it up a notch by adding cold brew. This Black Russian cocktail drink recipe is a lovely example of how more isn’t always better. You only need quality ingredients and balanced flavours to create something memorable.


A rocks glass is a short tumbler holding between 175 and 295 ml. It is used for serving spirits neat or over ice, known as “on the rocks,” and for food styling certain cocktails. It is also known as lowball glass or Old Fashioned glass.

A White Russian is an iteration of a Black Russian that adds cream to the original, giving it a paler colour. It was first created in the 1960s and grew in popularity with the film The Big Lebowski in 1998. A version with milk instead of cream is called the Caucasian.

Try it yourself with our article on how to make a White Russian.

The Black Russian is vegan depending on the type of coffee liqueur you use, so be sure to read labels carefully if you’re following a specific diet. Kahlua is not vegan, but Tia Maria is, for example.

  1. Marie-France. (2022, February 22). The history of the Black Russian cocktail. Retrieved from https://www.spiritshunters.com/cocktail/history-of-the-black-russian-cocktail/
  2. Valinsky, J. (2022, December 3). Why 2022 is the year of the espresso martini. Retrieved from https://www.cnn.com/2022/12/03/business/espresso-martini-popularity-rise/index.html
  3. SIP Awards. (2020, February 27). A Brief History of Kahlua. Retrieved from https://sipawards.com/cocktail-knowledge/a-brief-history-of-kahlua/
Julia Bobak
I love trail running, rock climbing, coffee, food, and my tiny dog — and writing about all of them. I start every morning with a fresh Americano from my home espresso machine, or I don’t start it at all.

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