The White Russian, despite its name, does not hail from Russia. It was created in Belgium, along with the Black Russian (the same drink minus the cream) in 1949. The creator was a bartender named Gustave Tops who was working at the Hotel Metropole in Brussels. It is said that the drink was created in honor of the U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg, Perle Mesta. The name White Russian comes from the color the cream adds to the drink and the fact that vodka is the main ingredient. The White Russian spread across the globe, but was never an extremely popular drink. That changed in 1998.
The film The Big Lebowski made the White Russian a part of pop culture forever. The main character, The Dude, drinks no less than nine of the cocktails over the course of the movie. The movie is a cult classic and has caused the drink to rise to previously unknown levels of popularity. Today there are several variations in recipes that sometimes lead to variations in name. For example, if goat milk is substituted for the cream it becomes a White Canadian, or if you switch out the cream for horchata it becomes a White Mexican.
Sweet cocktail consisting of vodka, coffee liqueur, and cream.
Vodka, coffee liqueur, cream (or milk)