This drink has been forgotten, but it was forgotten a long, long time ago. Even though this drink should not have been forgotten, considering it is the proprietor of the Black & White Russian. There is a reasonable explanation for this. Here is an early printing of this drink:
Woman’s favorite cook book – Page 36 by Annie R. Gregory in 1902
“Russian – Russian Vodka, Gin, and Creme de Cacao”
This drink would have been exclusively reserved for the aristocratic societies, given real Russian Vodka would have been extremely hard to come by. Vodka in general was relatively unknown, especially during this time frame, and if it was known it would have cost a few months salary to purchase it.
This drink almost certainly originated in New York City and would have been the favorite of the upper class. Here are a few early publications indicating this drink was created in New York:
Knickerbocker: the magazine of the low countries: Volume 4 in 1944
The New Yorker: Volume 29, Issues 38-52 in 1946
The New York Public Library desk reference by New York Public Library in 1993
It appears sometime after Kahlua claimed the Black Russian, the Russian began to fade. This could have been caused by the confusion of ingredients between the two cocktails. If a bartender recently learned that a black russian was made with Kahlua, he would have assumed he had been making a Russian wrong all along. Or maybe the Russian was assumed to be an Alexander, which would explain the differences in creme de cacao colors between the Alexander and the Brandy Alexander. Prior to Kahlua claiming the Black Russian, it was Vodka and Dark Creme de Cacao, hence the name “Black”. Most bartenders would have mistaken this for an incorrect recipe of the Alexander. This also explains the very close relationship between the Alexander and Russian.
This drink dates between 1891 – 1901 and contained at least as of then:
Stir These Ingredients:
Dry Gin (Gordon’s is mentioned as early as 1975)
Clear Creme de Cacao
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.