In the late 1940’s the American ambassador to Luxembourg, Mrs. Perle Mesta, was a regular guest at Gustave’s bar at the Metropole Hotel, situated in the basement of the hotel.
It was here that bartender Tops is reputed to have mixed his signature drink Black Russian for the first time, in Mrs. Mesta’s honor.
Around 1949 the Cold War just about to start and in those days vodka only being associated with Russia, the name for the Black Russian – is a mixture of Russian vodka and dark coffee liqueur – was well chosen. The name contributed to its gain of worldwide popularity, in later years.
At the time of its invention and the later during the early years, the Black Russian started off as a balanced mixture and was initially shaken by Gustave Tops, before serving them in chilled cocktail glasses. However, a blend of two-to-one (two parts vodka and one part dark coffee liqueur), sometimes even a formula of three-to-one, has become more common in recent years. Nowadays Black Russians are usually served on-the-rocks, in old-fashioned glasses.