Is A Canned White Russian As Good As Homemade?

Cutwater Spirits has a new Peppermint White Russian for the holidays. How does it taste?

Ever since a boy asked me to watch a really cool and edgy movie with him years ago, I've loved White Russians. The movie, of course, was The Big Lebowski. I was curious about The Dude's signature beverage and promptly ordered one at a bar. The bartender rolled his eyes before presenting me with my very first taste of the sweet, smooth cocktail made of vodka, cream, and Kahlua coffee liqueur. It's basically dessert in a glass. I was hooked.

A perfect homemade White Russian

A White Russian is technically a Black Russian with the addition of cream, so if you don't like the dairy component you can combine vodka and Kahlua for a strong, boozy drink on ice. Neither cocktail is actually Russian, but the inclusion of vodka is why it's so named.


For the White Russian, proportions are everything. Here's my favorite recipe:

  • 2 shots vodka
  • 1 shot Kahlua
  • 1 shot heavy cream
  • Because I rarely buy heavy cream, I often use half-and-half or whole milk in its place. The whole milk White Russian is severely lacking in richness and is a lot more like an iced, spiked latte. Adding more milk makes the texture better, but then the alcohol flavors are more diluted. In The Big Lebowski, The Dude does make his with powdered milk at one point, but this was clearly done out of desperation, and I do not desire powdered milk in any form. The liquid cream really ties the drink together.

    Around St. Patrick's day each year, I switch to a Blind Russian, which uses Baileys Irish Cream liqueur in place of the Kahlua. I once concocted a Blind White Russian by mixing vodka, Baileys, and Kahlua in a thermos, which I then took to Scranton, Pennsylvania's St. Patrick's Day Parade (yes, the home of Dunder Mifflin in The Office—IYKYK). It was a great day for all.


    Because I'm... thorough... I looked up other possible variations for the drink online. Some sources recommend swapping out the vodka for either rum or gin, but I used to sub brandy, which is apparently called a Dirty White Mother, a name I do not care for one bit. It can also be called a Separator with cream, which I can abide.

Cutwater’s Canned White Russian vs. the classic

I honestly don't drink all that often now that my parade days (aka my 20s) are over. However, I recently jumped at the chance to try Cutwater's newest seasonal canned cocktail, the Peppermint White Russian, since a ready-to-drink version meant I didn't have to mix one up myself. This new flavor is sold in Trader Joe's and at liquor stores in select states, and while the Peppermint White Russian is a seasonal offering, Cutwater's regular White Russian is available year-round.


Like a homemade White Russian, the Cutwater cans have two shots of vodka per can, clocking in at 13% alcohol by volume. Instead of Kahlua and cream, however, the product contains coffee cream liqueur. The peppermint one has the addition of "peppermint flavor."

Both varieties of the Cutwater canned White Russian, I quickly found out, are very alcohol-forward; you really get that warm, burning sensation from the first sip. This might be because the dairy is far more toned down than in a homemade White Russian, where the thickness of the cream coats your throat and mutes the liquor flavor more than the coffee cream liqueur is able to do by itself. In the new Peppermint variety, the coffee-and-peppermint combo is more of an aftertaste than a prominent flavor while you sip, and the mint soon overtakes the coffee notes. Purists might miss the nuances here, but the convenience of being able to crack open a fully prepared cocktail without having to measure or mix anything—well, that's certainly a gift, and it's gifting season.