White Russians and The Big Lebowski0

Coffee liqueurs are the rage right now, especially in Portland, a city which loves its spirits and its coffee equally. But there’s always room for one more. Galliano Ristretto has been around for a while but has only recently made its way into Oregon, joining ranks with a number of locally-produced coffee liqueurs. To commemorate this and to introduce the spirit to Portland bartenders and enthusiasts, Galliano brand ambassador extraordinaire Jacob Grier came up with the perfect event: Ristretto with The Dude: White Russians and The Big Lebowski. Brilliant!

The event featured complimentary White Russians using Galliano Ristretto, free snacks from the host bar, and a Big Lebowski screening on one of the big TVs in the bar’s private event space. The turnout was small but enthusiastic, with everyone looking forward to the drinks and movie. Speaking for myself, this was the first White Russian I’ve had in well over a decade and I’d guess the same is true for many other people there. While I do love The Big Lebowski and occasionally joke about drinking these while watching my own copy of the movie, this was my first time actually pairing the two.

White Russians lined up on the bar

We drew the line at one, however. The heavy cream Jacob used was a little much so we opted for Black Russians for our second round. Just for something slightly lighter.

Black Russians — White Russians without the cream

So while I don’t normally drink these, I’m always eager to try a new spirit and I was looking forward to trying the Ristretto. Portland has been producing some great coffee liqueurs lately and it’s given me a new interest in the category, now that there’s something other than the sickly-sweet Kahlua on the market.

Sipped on its own, the Ristretto has the sweetness and syrupy feel of Kahlua but not the artificial, sort of chemically taste. It actually tastes like coffee, rather than some sort of coffee-like substance. Some of our local coffee liqueurs are lighter, presenting a clean, fresh coffee flavor without the syrupy feel, but it’s nice to see a Kahlua alternative available on the wider market. People planning their own Lebowski parties outside the Portland area would do well to pick up this for their bar.

The event was held at Spirit of 77, a sports-themed bar opened by the people behind Clyde Common. I love Clyde Common but I hate sports bars, so this was my first time here. Note that I initially described the bar as “sports-themed”; that description feels more accurate than “sports bar”. There are huge TVs and sport references, but none of the tacky banners and the like that adorn other such places. Further, Spirit of 77 is actually very well designed; a lot more thought has gone into this space than any other sports bar I’ve seen. This isn’t the type of place I’d frequent but if you’re into sports you should definitely check it out.