A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 03, 2008
Black Russian (cocktail)

The “Black Rusian” cocktail contains vodka and coffee liqueur (such as Kahlua or Tia Maria). The cocktail is cited in print from 1957. It is sometimes claimed that the “Black Russian” was created by Luxembourg barman Gustave Tops at the Hotel Metropole in Brussels in 1949/1950, but no contemporary historical documentation has been found to support this.

The “White Russian” adds cream to a “Black Russian” cocktail. The “White Russian” is cited from 1962.

Wikipedia: Black Russian
The Black Russian is a cocktail of vodka and coffee liqueur (usually two parts vodka to one part coffee liqueur). It is traditionally poured over crushed ice in an old-fashioned glass.

This combination first appeared in 1949, and is ascribed to a Belgian barman who created it at the Hotel Metropole in Brussels in honor of Perle Mesta, then U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg. The cocktail owes its name to the use of vodka, a stereotypical Russian spirit, and the blackness of the Kahlua.

A variation is the Tall Black Russian, prepared in the same manner as a Black Russian, except that it is served in a taller glass and topped up with Cola.

Wikipedia: Kahlúa
Kahlúa is a well known Mexican coffee-flavored liqueur. It is heavy and sweet, with a distinct taste of coffee, from which it is made. Kahlua also contains sugar, corn syrup, vanilla bean, and Vodka.

Allied Domecq, which was created in 1994 as the result of a merger between Allied Lyons and Pedro Domecq, had produced Kahlúa since 1936 until the company was partially acquired in 2005 by Pernod Ricard, the first largest spirits distributor in the world since the merger with the Swedish “Vin & Sprit” in March 2008.
Kahlúa is used to make cocktails and as a topping or ingredient in several desserts, including ice cream, cakes, and cheesecakes.

A few notable cocktails made with Kahlúa include the B-52, Baby Guinness, Mudslide, and the White Russian and Black Russian.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
Black Russian n. a cocktail made with vodka and coffee liqueur, often mixed with cola; cf. WHITE RUSSIAN n. and adj. Additions.
1960 Manitowoc (Wisconsin) Herald-Times 4 June 10/6 Bartenders are serving a drink called the ‘*Black Russian’.
2005 Cosmopolitan Aug. 77/2 It’s 1am now and the women bar-hop down the strip, drinking cheap Black Russians..as they go.

26 November 1957, Los Angeles (CA) Times, pg. A8 ad:
It’s a menace to an unhappy state of mind. Vodka and KAHLUA over ice...and goodbye to let-down and lassitude. Next time out, ask the waiter to undermine your dark mood with a BLACK RUSSIAN!
(KAHLUA advertisement—ed.)

3 June 1960, Ironwood (MI) Daily Globe, pg. 4, col. 6:
DuPont Plaza Hotel bartenders are serving a drink called the “Black Russian.” It’s a concoction of vodka and kahlua, a liqueur, made out of coffee beans. It’s served on the rocks. 

9 May 1964, Cue, pg. 36, col. 1:
TIDBITS: Visitors to the Fair (1964 World’s Fair—ed.)—and New Yorkers, too—are talking about a new drink: The Black Russian. If you want to try it at home, mix one part Kahlua, two parts vodka, stir and serve.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Wednesday, December 03, 2008 • Permalink