Why You Should Never Order White Russians At A Bar

"Hey, careful, man! There's a beverage here!" A great moment in the classic 1998 film The Big Lebowski is when The Dude, played by Jeff Bridges, admonishes his kidnapper for nearly spilling his preferred form of hydration, a White Russian, as the bad guy shoves him into the back of a limousine and towards an unknown fate (via YouTube). The Dude has his priorities.

If you've never had a White Russian, let us break it down for you. It's vodka (the "Russian" part), cream, or alternatively, whole milk (the "white" part), and coffee liqueur (such as Kahlúa). The White Russian is the perfect cocktail for a coffee-lover and simple to make. It starts with a rocks glass full of ice, followed by two ounces of vodka, an ounce of the coffee liqueur, and it's topped off with the cream (via Liquor.com). Some add a cherry, but it's not necessary. The decadent cocktail was really the perfect drink for the lovable and lazy reluctant hero of the film, combining several vices — caffeine, fat, alcohol, and sugar — in one delicious drink, observes Sugared Nerd. Did we mention they're delicious? 

But despite the siren song of drink that combines both caffeine and alcohol, you might want to stick to making White Russians at home, and choose something else when you're at a bar.

Freshness can be questionable

The reason isn't the saturated fat, sugar, or the startling 500+ calories per serving. It's the cream or milk and their freshness, or lack thereof, that are the reason for this word of caution. Not surprisingly, cream and milk aren't used very often at bars. Sure, bartenders get an occasional request for a Chocolate Martini, Brandy Alexander, Mudslide, or White Russian, but those orders aren't exactly common. And the truth is that a half gallon of milk or a carton of cream can sit in that little refrigerator behind the bar for quite a while as the "best by" date rolls by unnoticed (via Money). While you might normally taste or smell milk or cream that's "off," the vodka and coffee liqueur in a White Russian might disguise the sourness of dairy gone bad

As one bartender told the website Matador, only someone who has never worked in a bar would be trusting enough to believe that the milk is unexpired. The Dude was confident that Gary, the bowling alley bartender was serving fresh White Russians (via YouTube), but we're guessing that you don't want to risk food poisoning. A less tasty but serviceable solution? Order a Black Russian: Same drink, just without the cream or milk.