The White Russian is Drink of the Day on March 6 for one very simple reason: it’s Day of the Dude. That’s right, the anniversary of the release of the 1998 film The Big Lebowski. It may not have been a box office hit upon release, but The Big Lebowski has become a cult classic, the catalyst for Day of the Dude and the foundation of Dudeism, self-described as “the slowest growing religion in the world.” Remember, “The Dude abides.”
White Russians seemed to be the primary source of nourishment for the protagonist of the story, Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski. It fits. The White Russian recipe is almost effortless, so today’s selection of drink is a no brainer. Perfect to sip on as you watch the movie.
The Big Lebowski
The Big Lebowski is something of a crime comedy. Jeff Bridges stars as The Dude, the archetypical Los Angeles slacker who likes bowling, drinking White Russians and not caring about anything. Its creators, the Coen brothers, were inspired by the work of Raymond Chandler, for whom we mixed the Gimlet cocktail. The story moves like one of Chandler’s books, unraveling a mystery with a very complex plot that is ultimately unimportant.
The Dude is a victim of mistaken identity when two enforcers for a porn kingpin assault him in his home and piss on his rug. They mistook him for a millionaire also named Jeffrey Lebowski, whose wife owed money to the kingpin. The Dude called on the “Big Lebowski” seeking recompense for the rug, noting that “it really tied the room together.” That meeting truly introduces The Dude:
“Let me explain something to you. Um, I am not ‘Mr. Lebowski.’ You’re Mr. Lebowski. I’m the Dude, so that’s what you call me. That or, uh, His Dudeness or, uh, Duder, or El Duderino, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.”
From there the plot wanders through the misadventures of The Dude and his bowling partners, Walter and Donny. The story involves kidnapping, fake ransom, stolen fake ransom, stolen cars, embezzlement, angry German nihilists and more twists and turns than you can count.
At each turn, The Dude continues to sip White Russians. He may be in the midst of being shoved into the back of a car by a thug, but can still say “careful, man, there’s a beverage here!”
In the end, we learn that the kidnapping, ransom and Big Lebowski were all fake, but find solace in learning that there’s a “little Lebowski on the way” borne by the Big Lebowski’s daughter and fathered by The Dude.
Dudeism and Day of the Dude
The Big Lebowski is one of those films that gets better and better the more times you watch it. As a viewer you pick up memorable quotes and it dawns on you that The Dude is a role model because everyone likes to be comfortable and free of worry. Sure, you may not wear sunglasses, shorts, a bathrobe and house slippers in the supermarket, but you wish you did.
This led to the foundation in 2005 of Dudeism by Oliver Benjamin, an American journalist. Officially it’s The Church of the Latter Day Dude. Followers don’t consider it a parody religion. In fact, it’s largely a modernized form of Taoism sans metaphysical doctrines.
You can learn all about Dudeism here and be ordained if you so choose. They also offer honorary doctorates from the Abide University and Institute in unique fields like Leisure Science. Great Dudes in History include such well known names as Lao Tzu, Snoopy, Quincy Jones, Jerry Garcia, Joni Mitchell, The Buddha, Walt Whitman and Julia Child. The term “dude” refers to both genders under Dudeism.
March 6, the Day of the Dude, is the high holy day of Dudeism, the culmination of a week-ish long celebration that begins with National Kahlua Day. Recommended activities include getting together with other like-minded dudes, drinking White Russians, watching the film and going bowling. And doing as little else as possible. But that’s just like our opinion, man.
The White Russian
The White Russian is not a drink that came in Russia. Nor is the Black Russian for that matter. The White Russian emerged in western Europe sometime in the 1930s and probably gained its name because vodka was still a novelty in most non-Slavic countries.
The Savoy Cocktail Book of 1930 shows the Russian Cocktail as an equal parts mix of vodka, gin and crème de cacao. That book also had the Barbara, made from vodka, crème de cacao and cream. By 1936 barman Frank Meier gave that drink the Russian name.
The White Russian evolved into its current form in 1965 when the American liquor brand Southern Comfort latched onto it to promote its new product, Coffee Southern. They took the prior recipe, dropped the crème de cacao, and substituted their short-lived coffee liqueur. They named it the White Russian, and that name stuck. Kahlúa, however, became the most used coffee liqueur.
Perhaps because of The Big Lewbowski the White Russian has become its own cult drink.
- Old Fashioned Glass
- 2 oz Vodka
- 1 oz Coffee liqueur Kahlua is the classic choice, but others are also fine.
- 1 dollop Heavy cream or half and half
- Add vodka and coffee liqueur to ice filled Old Fashioned glass.
- Add dollop of cream or half and half.
- Remember that The Dude abides.