White Russian - hold the cream


December 24, 2003|By Sara Engram | Sara Engram,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Leave it to the trendy folks in L.A. to come up with a way to reinvent the lusciously decadent White Russian so that even health-conscious party-goers can indulge. Just replace all that cream with soy or skim milk and -voila! - you've got a Skinny White Russian.

Francesca Abbracciamento, an event producer in New York City with clients such as Bill Clinton, Conan O'Brien and Kevin Kline, says the West Coast innovation has moved east and made the White Russian a "hot" drink and a perfect centerpiece for a festive gathering.

"You're not losing the integrity of the drink in terms of taste and color," she says.

And with a stylish presentation, guests can enjoy making their own White Russians, whether skinny or traditional. Abbracciamento suggests underscoring the choices with different glasses. Use tall, skinny tumblers or champagne flutes for the skinny version and wider glasses for the traditional cream version.

And don't feel the glasses all have to match. Abbracciamento says her signature theme this season is using "fun glasses" -- i.e., they don't have to match. "That way you can recognize your glass - and it adds to the decor of your bar."

Group the skinny tumblers and flutes together with the other glasses in a separate display. Use beautiful trays - silver, if you have them - or festive runners or mats to add to the holiday theme. Place pitchers of skim milk and soy milk near the skinny glasses, and a pitcher of traditional cream near the others. Put the vodka and the Kahlua or creme de cacao in the middle.

Abbracciamento suggests using vanilla vodka for an extra layer of flavor. You'll need to label the milk and cream pitchers and maybe even provide a recipe with suggested proportions, but letting guests make their own is easy for the host and fun for the guests.

And don't forget the garnish. Abbracciamento suggests a glass bowl of whole nutmegs, accompanied by a stylishly sleek grater, and a shot glass of cinnamon sticks for stirring.

For a party, you'll want to provide a couple of other beverage choices as well as nibbles.

But you don't need a big crowd. A White Russian bar can be a perfect way for a few family members and friends to round out a holiday evening.

White Russian

Makes 1 drink

1 1/2 ounces Kahlua

1 1/2 ounces vodka

1 ounce whole milk or heavy cream (see note)

Pour all ingredients into a glass and cover glass with a cocktail shaker. Shake, so there is a little foam on top.

Note: For a Skinny White Russian, substitute 1 ounce skim milk or soy milk for the 1 ounce whole milk or heavy cream.

- Francesca Abbracciamento for Francesca Events

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