Coconut White Russian

DrinkCocktail

This Vegan White Russian cocktail is made with vodka, coffee liqueur, and coconut milk. It's dairy-free so that all your guests can have a glass. Cheers!

Photography Credit: Garrett McCord

Fun fact: The White Russian isn’t Russian at all, but rather an American invention!

The cocktail first appeared in The Savoy Cocktail Book, by Harry Craddock back in 1930, and it consisted of gin, vodka, and crème de cacao. At the time, vodka was an almost exclusively Russian export, hence the name.

Easy to make, the cocktail quickly became a popular. Over time, it evolved into the present day drink of vodka, coffee liqueur, and cream – or in our case, coconut!

Vegan Coconut White Russian On the Rocks

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Made With Coconut Milk & Kahlúa

I didn’t want my vegan and dairy-free friends to miss out on this classic cocktail of vodka, coffee liqueur, and cream, so I’ve reinvented it with coconut milk.

Not only does the cocktail retain its decadence, but the coconut flavor melds so perfectly with the coffee liqueur, making this an even better cocktail altogether.

Tips for Making a Good White Russian

A few notes before we get to the cocktail itself:

  • Please, please, please don’t use cheap vodka for this. It’s the main ingredient and you can’t make a good cocktail with bad booze. I highly recommend Tito’s Vodka as its widely available, affordable, and smooth.
  • Play around with the coffee liqueur! Kahlúa is the go-to coffee liqueur for this cocktail, but Trader Vic’s Kona and St. George NOLA Coffee Liqueur are also phenomenal choices that offer a richer, bolder coffee flavor for the same price. (Both can be picked up online or at nearly any liquor store.)

Coconut Milk White Russian Cocktail

Popular White Russian Variations

Lastly, a number of popular variations of the White Russian exist. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Try swapping out coffee liqueur with crème de cacao or amaretto, or going half-and-half with either of them.
  • A small splash of cinnamon or ginger liqueur is also a nifty addition, especially around the holidays.
  • For a traditional White Russian, swap out the coconut cream for heavy cream.
  • Lastly, if you’re feeling a bit bawdy, trade the vodka for bourbon.

Want more great cocktails?

Coconut White Russian Recipe

  • Prep time: 2 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink

There’s a bit of an unspoken rule amongst cocktail connoisseurs that one shouldn’t measure out a White Russian. It should always be eyeballed according to the taste of the drinker. However, the following measurements are a perfect starting point for the novice.

Coconut milk sometimes separates in the can if it’s been sitting a while so be sure to give it a good shake before using.

For a traditional White Russian, swap out the coconut cream for heavy cream.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce coffee liqueur (such as Kahlúa)
  • Coconut milk, to taste

Method

Fill a rocks glass with ice. Add the vodka and coffee liqueur and give it a quick swirl or two to mix. Top with a generous splash of coconut milk and serve. Stir together if you desire.

Coconut White Russian Coconut White Russian Coconut White Russian

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Unmixed Kahlua White Russian

Garrett McCord

Garrett McCord is a professional writer and recipe developer whose work has appeared in many print and online publications such as Gourmet Live, Saveur, Huffington Post, Smithsonian, and NPR. Past clients also include numerous food companies, wineries, and distilleries. Garrett writes about cocktails on his website, Coupe de Grace.

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10 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Rich

    My wife likes this one. Give it a different variation. Definitely worth a shout!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  2. J Nielsen

    All these comments saying Kahlua is not vegan and yet that’s not made clear in the recipe or headline. That’s irresponsible.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  3. Christina

    Another answer today from the company…
    Hi Christina, my name is Giancarlo and I head up global communications for Kahlúa.
    I wanted to personally address this query and make myself available for further clarification if needed.
    All bottles of Kahlúa are mixed and bottled in the same place, Fort Smith, Arkansa, USA. Up until two years ago when the full production process was scrutinised we were under the assumption our suppliers did not use this method. Upon investigation we were informed that some of the affiliates of this supplier in North America uses the process. For us to be able to tell whether each specific batch is made using the process or not is extremely difficult and costly. Therefore we have the duty to communicate this to consumers, which is what we did and changed the status of Kahlúa to non-vegan friendly.
    With that said, we have now started a process to ensure this is no longer the case and hopefully in 6-12 months will be able to claim Vegan again.
    Please bare with us while we undertake this challenge.
    Feel free to reach out if you have any other queries.
    Best wishes,
    Team Kahlúa.

  4. Christina

    I wrote to kahlua.com and they today confirmed that kahlúa original is not vegan: Hi Christina,
    For clarity we do not add animal derivatives into our products, however, upon a thorough investigation two years ago, we discovered that one of our sugar suppliers uses a process that is not considered vegan-friendly. While this is a common practice in the industry, it unfortunately also means we are unable to call our Kahlúa suitable for a vegan diet.
    We also know this will probably mean we will lose you as a customer, but we are here to help in any way we can.
    All the best,
    Team Kahlúa

  5. Christina

    According to https://www.kahlua.com/en/faq/ none of the Kahlúa bottles are vegan.

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