Day Drinking In Italy: The Italian White Russian.

OUR FIRST WINTER IN ITALY

Our first winter living in Italy was brutal. Snow for months.  My husband and I were snowbound, watching the movie, The Big Lebowski and dreaming of White Russians to keep us warm. A White Russian is a lovely concoction comprised of vodka, cream, and coffee flavored liqueur, Kahlua. The drink features prominently in the movie. Unfortunately, while Kahlua is very popular in the USA, it was impossible to find in Italy. Literally impossible. Our Big Lebowski dreams were shattered.

Then one day my husband walked in from work with a look on his face like a little boy with a frog in his pocket. He excitedly pulled out a bottle of Borghetti, a coffee based Italian liqueur. White Russians were back on the menu.

White Russian cocktail on the bar stand on rubber mat.

The classic White Russian cocktail. Photo credit: iStock Photos.

Now, after 2 or 3 White Russians,  you’d think that we would have been out cold. I am an insomniac, but my husband can literally sleep anywhere, at any time. Yet this night, no sleep was to be had. No sheep were being counted. At about 3:00 a.m., we were both wide awake with the edgy energy that only high amounts of caffeine have ever given me. We tossed. We turned. We tried to figure out why my husband couldn’t sleep. Eventually, it dawned on us to look at the Borghetti bottle.

ITALIANS ARE STICKLERS FOR NATURAL, PURE INGREDIENTS

There it was right on the front of the bottle, “di vero caffe espresso.”  Arrgh. Our excitement had made us foolhardy. While Kahlua is a coffee “flavored” liqueur, Borghetti is made with pure espresso.  Italians do not believe in artificial ingredients. Not even in their liqueurs. We had essentially consumed 3 espressos each before bedtime.

BORGHETTI, NOT SUITABLE FOR NIGHT DRINKING

We concluded that Borghetti is only suitable for day drinking. Borghetti is a day drink because one cannot drink it in the evening and expect to get any sleep. If Borghetti bested my sleep connoisseur husband, a normal person doesn’t stand a chance. 

Borghetti is delicious. I like it even better than Kahlua. It has less of a sugary taste and more of a strong coffee flavor. So the conundrum. The stuff is tasty but there is no way we can drink after 12:00 noon and how many times a year does one sit around drinking during the daytime? Hum . . . when could we consume this lovely liqueur?

We decided that Borghetti is the perfect Christmas morning drink. A little Borghetti in with some cream and Nat King Cole singing Christmas carols is a pretty damn near perfect way to start your day.

Two Christmas gnomes with a bottle of Borghetti.

The Italian liqueur, Borghetti. The necessary ingredient for an Italian Christmas White Russian.

ITALIAN WHITE RUSSIAN RECIPE

Despite the name, the White Russian was not invented in Russia. I suspect that the alleged inventor so named it due to the inclusion of vodka, but I have no proof (pun intended) of that.

Legend has it that Gustave Tops, a Belgian bartender, not a Russian, created the cocktail in 1949 at the Hotel Metropole in Brussels. The drink was quite popular initially and eventually spread across the globe. In the USA, the concoction hit the height of its popularity in the 1970s. Today, not too many people drink them and it is considered a retro cocktail.

Our recipe adds a new twist with the addition of the espresso liqueur. In our house, we have cross pollinated 2 cultures and now our cocktail’s official moniker is Il Russo Bianco di Natale Italiano or the Italian Christmas White Russian.  

Makes one drink:

  1. 2 oz vodka.
  2. 1 oz Borghetti
  3. 1/2 oz whole milk or heavy cream.
  4. Ice.

Buon Natale a Tutti!

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