I had often overheard these cocktails mentioned in adult conversations, but had never actually seen either one. I grew up in a dry household. Alcohol, kept in the cabinet over the refrigerator, was only served to guests. My parents didn’t drink. Or so they claimed. Teenagers are often awake late at night and that was when I discovered that Late Night with Johnny Carson wasn’t the only reason that my father stayed up later than my mother. He liked his Scotch. There were even rumors that at neighborhood parties, his consumption of Scotch had to be closely monitored lest he start trying on lampshades.
I opted to start with the Black Russian. The recipe was simple. 2 parts Kahlua, 1 part vodka, pour over ice in a rocks glass. Whatever that is. Unlike my parents, I do drink. Outside of my home. I keep no alcohol in my house. So I know nothing about barware. A little Googling led me to a wonderful columnist on About.com:Cocktails, Colleen Graham. From her I learned that a “rocks glass” is that short, fat little glass from which my father drank his Scotch. I wasn’t about to run out and buy new glasses for a cocktail that I may or may not like. I settle on using my usual tall glasses. Having used them, I can see the wisdom of rocks glasses.
Interestingly enough, her recipe for Black Russian was the opposite of the Kahlua recipe. She uses 1 ¾ oz vodka, ¾ oz coffee liqueur, then instructs you to build the ingredients in an old-fashioned glass filled with ice and stir well. I decided to try both versions.
I started with Colleen’s recipe. It was okay. Nothing to write home about. Then I reversed the ratio with the Kahlua recipe, which turned out to be fabulous. I loved the smooth coffee flavor of the Kahlua with just a kick from the vodka. Hmmm . . . maybe I’ll go out and buy those glasses after all.
2 parts Kahlua
1 part vodka
Pour over ice in a rocks glass.
Recycle: Kahlua bottle, vodka bottle