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5 from 1 vote

White Russians with Homemade Coffee Liqueur (Kahlua)

This DIY version of Kahlua allows you to customize the strength and sweetness of the liqueur. Great as a sipper or use in a White Russian.
Prep Time5 mins
Cooling Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 5 mins
Course: Cocktails
Cuisine: Drinks
Keyword: coffee
Servings: 1
Author: Dana Raidt
Cost: $6


  • Heat proof glass or mug


Homemade Kahlua

  • 1 cup light brown sugar add more or less for desired sweetness
  • 3 cups strong coffee
  • 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup high-quality vodka

White Russian

  • 2 ounces high-quality vodka
  • 1 ounce homemade Kahlua
  • 1 ounce whole milk half and half or heavy cream


Homemade Kahlua

  • Brew a fresh pot of strong, hot coffee. My coffee pot calls for 2 tablespoons grounds for every 5 ounces water, so I upped it to 3 tablespoons per 5 ounces water (or about 12 tablespoons total)
  • Spoon the sugar into the hot coffee and stir until it's completely dissolved. Let cool to room temperature.
  • Add the vanilla.
  • Then the vodka. Stir again.

White Russian

  • Mix Kahlua with vodka in a lowball glass over ice. Slowly drizzle in milk or half and half.


The quality of the coffee, vodka and vanilla is extra important for this drink. It's worth it to splurge on a high-end coffee (if there's a variety from a local roaster you just can't live without, go ahead and brew up an extra pot to use for cocktails)—and don't skimp on the vodka, either, since cheap stuff may curdle your drink.
Store any unused portion in a covered glass container and refrigerate for up to two weeks.
For the White Russians, instead of cream or half-and-half, you can also try using a coffee creamer—they come in a variety of yummy flavors. I like to use classic French Vanilla creamer, although Hazelnut and White Chocolate Macadamia make for a decadent, dessert-worthy drink.