This vegan white Russian is smooth, rich, and a little too easy to drink!
It’s the perfect creamy cocktail to make during the holiday season to share with adult family and friends. I mean, how can you go wrong with a base of vodka, coffee liqueur, and silky smooth cashew milk?
Our goal with this recipe was to get it as close to the original recipe as possible. It’s a cocktail with three ingredients: vodka, coffee liqueur, and heavy cream.
History of the white Russian cocktail
Before we get into this, let me give you a bit of a background story on what the White Russian cocktail is.
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Despite it having the word ‘Russian’ in the name of this drink, it’s actually not a Russian drink at all! It has that name because the main liquor used is vodka.
This drink originated from what is called a ‘black Russian’, which is essentially the same drink, minus the cream.
It was created by barman Gustave Tops in Brussels, Belgium. This original recipe dates back to the late ’40s, and the ‘white’ component first appeared later in the mid-’60s in Oakland, California.
Why is a white Russian not vegan?
Now that we have the history lesson out of the way, let’s talk about what’s in this drink. It’s super simple!
Normally, as you can imagine, cream isn’t vegan. So, to make this drink plant-based, we’ve looked at swapping it out for an alternative that’s just as ‘creamy’ but minus the dairy.
We have made a super quick cashew milk that is a more neutral flavour compared to the other alternative that can be used – coconut milk. It has a lovely hint of vanilla that goes perfectly with coffee liqueur and its milky texture.
I’ll be the first to admit, that I like using coconut cream and milk in my recipes, but when you want to replicate something so simple without straying away too much from the original flavour, cashew milk is the way to go.
No, it doesn’t come out of a can, but trust me, it’s so worth making!
Besides the use of cream not being vegan, the most traditional coffee liqueur that is used for this cocktail is Kahlua.
I’ve talked about this before in my tiramisu recipe, as well as my vanilla espresso martini, but let me quickly break the unfortunate news to you here if you haven’t heard. Kahlua, at the moment, is not vegan. It uses American sugar that is processed using bone char. Bizzare, right?!
What’s in this vegan white Russian?
So, to make a white Russian vegan, we’ll need to create a cashew milk and swap out the coffee liqueur used.
You’ll need the following ingredients:
- Raw cashews
- Maple syrup
- Vanilla bean pod
- Vegan coffee liqueur
A word on the coffee liqueur used
In this recipe, we use Tia Maria, as it passes the vegan test. The main difference between some brands is the consistency (some may be more sticky, thicker than others) and how sweet it is.
However, any coffee liqueur that you enjoy drinking will be great for this cocktail.
For instance, since Kahlua is on the sweeter side, you’ll find that there’s the slightest difference in taste when using a coffee liqueur like Tia Maria. The other great brand that we’ve tried is Mr Black. You can find it in most liqueur stores in Australia.
Quick tips for making this dairy-free cocktail
As simple as this drink is, there’s a few simple, yet effective ways to take it to the next level.
- Use larger ice cubes as they melt slower. This will help to avoid diluting your drink too quickly.
- Pour the cashew milk into the glass over the back of a teaspoon to create the seperation and ripple effect to the milk being added to the alcohol.
- Don’t forget to stir it before drinking.
- You can store the cashew milk in the fridge for up to 3 days and use it in other drinks like your morning coffee, hot chocolate, smoothie etc.
- If you’re making cocktails for a few people, the cashew millk will make up to 7-8 white Russians.
- If you don’t mind a little bit of grain in your cashew milk, then you don’t need to strain it. It looks better when it is and you won’t have any grittiness.
Other holiday drinks you’ll love:
- Homemade Vegan Eggnog
- Thick Italian Vegan Hot Chocolate
- Vegan Mulled Wine
- Vanilla Espresso Martinis
- Creamy Vegan Gingerbread Latte