Jeff Bridges' character, known as The Dude, drinks nine White Russians -- his signature cocktail -- throughout the course of cult classic film The Big Lebowski. Whether you consider the cocktail to be endemic to only two populations -- alcoholics or hipsters, as the New York Times wrote of the drink in 2008 -- it's still hard to deny the simple, sweet, creamy pleasures of the White Russian (or "Caucasian," as The Dude calls them). Who doesn't love coffee liqueur and cream spiked with a little vodka?
You can, of course, make your own White Russians at home as The Dude does. But in honor of this Saturday's Lebowski Fest, which is returning to Houston after a four-year absence, we decided to spotlight the nine best White Russians in town.
This White Russian -- fittingly termed "The Dude" -- isn't made with your run-of-the-mill dairy products. "We don't use cream," says Liberty Station bartender Lindsay Heffron. "We use a liqueur called Adult Chocolate Milk," for a cocktail she calls "super Lebowski." Even though Heffron says that regular White Russians aren't her cup of Kahlua, she admits: "I'll drink [The Dude] all day long." Heffron has an additional pro-tip for those who order The Dude: "I like mine with vanilla vodka."
2. Little Bigs
You knew Little Bigs was going to make the list. After all, its White Russian-flavored milkshake is called "The Dude." There's no hard booze in The Dude, but there is alcohol in it. So even though it tastes just like a milkshake, beware.
3. Lucky Strike
We all know what The Dude does for recreation: Bowl. Drive around. The occasional acid flashback. You can accomplish at least one of these activities -- sturdy White Russian in hand -- at the Lucky Strike bowling alley in the downtown Pavilions. Bathrobe optional.
It makes sense that a cocktail bar which doubles as a coffee shop would make a wicked White Russian (along with other caffeinated cocktails such as Irish Coffee). Here, you can order it by its regular name or call it a Caucasian -- either way, you're getting a treat.
5. Warren's Inn
Warren's specialized in classic cocktails before there was even a term for the new-school revival pioneered by bars such as Anvil. The same dive bar that also makes a mean, mint-chocolatey Grasshopper is where you can find a truly old-school, right-as-rain White Russian.
Although it's marketed as a "speakeasy," Prohibition features more modern cocktails on its menu -- including those, like the White Russian, made with vodka. Prohibition's version of the cocktail is called the White Bison (owing to the Zubrowka vodka it uses), and features a few extra ingredients besides just Kahlua and cream: shaved nutmeg and coconut, which give it additional warmth and smoothness.
7. The 18th
Like Prohibition, this Rice Village-area cocktail bar named for the 18th Amendment (the one that repealed Prohibition, naturally) calls itself a speakeasy. And like its Galleria-based sister, The 18th makes a White Russian. Here, however, you'll find a traditional take on the cocktail, with no surprises.
In addition to a great selection of local beers and snacks that you can enjoy in the theater, the new downtown movie palace also makes a surprisingly great White Russian. Now if only it would screen Lebowski from time to time...
9. Pub Fiction
If the regular White Russian cocktail the bar whips up isn't enough to calm your Kahlua craving, you can have your cake and eat it too: Order Pub Fiction's spin on tres leches for dessert, which features White Russian-flavored vanilla sponge cake soaked in White Russian-infused milk.
Bonus: The Chocolate Bar
As with Pub Fiction, this White Russian isn't a cocktail -- it's a dessert. The White Russian at The Chocolate Bar is a Kahlua-infused white chocolate cheesecake, but if white chocolate isn't your thing (totally understandable), don't fret: There's a Black Russian version made with chocolate mousse that's available too.
The 2013 Houston Lebowski Bash takes place this Saturday, March 2 at the Orange Show starting at 6 p.m. After the traditional rounds of Lebowski trivia and costume contests, The Big Lebowski will be screened at 8 p.m.
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