Can You Use Milk in a White Russian?

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The white Russian cocktail is fortunately not as formidable as its name, which conjures images of a deadly Siberian winter or the stoic statues of Soviet leaders like Lenin and Stalin. This relatively simple beverage brings together three distinct flavors for a sweet-sipping adult beverage on the rocks. You can switch out the cream for milk, but the consistency will be slightly different, and you might have to make a few adjustments to maintain the desired potency.

Original Recipe

  • White Russians have only three ingredients: vodka, coffee liqueur and some form of dairy. The most widely known versions list cream, usually light but sometimes heavy, or half-and-half as the dairy ingredient. To make a white Russian, fill a rocks or highball glass with ice, then pour in an equal amount of vodka and coffee liqueur. Top the liquors with an equal part of cream or half-and-half, pop in a straw and garnish with a cherry. It is best to stir the drink with the straw to help maintain its creamy consistency.

Milk vs. Cream

  • Though milk and cream all come from the cow, they have key differences that cause them to mix differently with alcohol. Milk has far less fat than those of cream. The fat content in whole milk is about 4 percent, while the fat content of the various forms of cream ranges from 12 percent in half-and-half to 38 percent in heavy cream. Fat content gives dairy products a thicker consistency, making milk far more watery than cream.

Make the Switch

  • White Russians are cocktails meant to be savored slowly. Because of this, the ice in the drink will melt, making the cocktail more watery and less creamy. To counter the melting and wateriness, a white Russian with milk should have about half the ice as one with cream. This leads to another problem with making the drink too weak; the more milk in the cocktail, the less alcohol you will be able to taste. To fix this problem, pour at least 1.5 times the amount of each liquor. Be careful though -- a 3-ounce white Russian is mighty powerful.

Other Choices

  • If making a white Russian with milk, the best choice is whole milk. The lowest that you would want to go is 2-percent milk; anything lower would result in a drink that was too thin. In addition to regular milk, flavored milk will also work, though vanilla and chocolate will taste the best. Eggnog is a good choice for the holidays, though it's best to use prepackaged or virgin eggnog instead of one that's an alcoholic punch.

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