Drink of the Week: Riva Grill’s Hot White Russian

Riva Grill's Hot White Russian.
Rob Galloway / Tahoe Daily Tribune

In our Drink of the Week segment, we’ll showcase one unique type of beer, wine, cocktail — you name it — to try at one of the countless breweries, bars and restaurants from around the basin.

In celebration of the first decent snow of the year here in Tahoe, I thought it would be fitting to feature a hot drink this week. What better to warm your toes and numb your senses than a warmed up alcoholic beverage. While you may have heard of this week’s drink before, you may not have been privy to the doors it opens up once you add a little heat.

Yes, the White Russian is usually served over ice — and at the end of “Rocky IV” — but here it gets the hot cocoa treatment that transports us all to sitting around the fire listening to grandpa telling slightly sloshed tales on Christmas Eve.

That line is mostly drawn from the steamy cream and Mexican chocolate shake ingredients, but gets its adult spanking from the addition of Kahlua and Absolut vanilla vodka. The result looks like something for the kiddos, complete with a dusting of cocoa, so make sure to keep it holstered if you have littles around — they’ll want a drink, I’m sure.

The result feels like a lighter version of a hot chocolate at first, but then comes the classic punch from the White Russian. The chocolate carries through to the aftertaste leaving you with the same smile you’d have if you were a kid after that first hot cocoa sip.

As the snow starts to fly, keep this one in mind for après ski – light, warming, and the perfect cap to a day on the slopes. Just make sure you don’t go overboard. If you hit the Hot White Russian too much, in the words of Ivan Drago, “You will lose.”

Riva Grill is located at 900 Ski Run Blvd., Suite No. 3 in South Lake Tahoe. For menu information and details, visit them online at or by phone at 530-542-2600.

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