Russian Roulette Cocktail Recipe

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Russian Roulette Nutrition Facts





Alcohol content:40%

Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 7, 2024


The Russian Roulette cocktail is a daring drink, not for the faint of heart, much like the high-stakes game it's named after. It's a concoction favored by thrill-seekers and lovers of strong flavors. The blend of vodka, coffee liqueur, and Sambuca creates a unique profile that has been appreciated in the most adventurous of nightlife circles.

  • Origins: While the exact origins are murky, it's believed to have been concocted during a particularly wild night at a bar where patrons were challenging the bartender to make a drink as unpredictable as the game.
  • Popularity: It gained notoriety for its bold taste and the 'gamble' one takes with the strong flavors and high alcohol content.
  • Audience: It's particularly popular among those who enjoy a potent drink and are looking to add some excitement to their evening.

How Russian Roulette Tastes?

The Russian Roulette cocktail is a bold, complex drink with a strong anise flavor from the Sambuca, complemented by the deep, rich notes of coffee liqueur. The vodka provides a clean, crisp base, making the cocktail potent and warming, with a slightly sweet finish.

Interesting facts about Russian Roulette

  • The Russian Roulette cocktail's name is a nod to the element of chance and risk associated with its consumption.
  • Despite its name, the cocktail is not of Russian origin but is a Western creation.
  • The combination of coffee liqueur and Sambuca is said to 'wake the senses' much like the adrenaline rush of the game it's named after.


A few good options for Russian Roulette are:

  • Grey Goose
  • Belvedere
  • Khor
  • Smirnoff

Learn everything on which Vodka to choose


A clear and crisp foundation, vodka adds a smooth kick while allowing other flavors to shine. Too much and you'll be dancing with the Russian bear—too little, and it's just a sweet sip without a bite. No vodka? Substitute with white rum for a slightly sweeter, tropical twist.

Mary Mitkina

Coffee Liqueur

Bringing deep, warm coffee notes that can take you from Red Square to an Italian café in a sip. Skimp on it and the cocktail loses its roasted charm—overflow the glass, and it's no longer a roulette but a coffee break. Try switching with amaretto for an almondy angle.

Emma Rose


This anise-flavored liquor is the showstopper here, think of it as the roulette ball in the game—it adds herbal complexity and a touch of sweetness. Missing Sambuca turns this from a Russian Roulette to a bland bullet. If you're out of Sambuca, use absinthe to keep the aniseed flavor but with a stronger, bohemian kick.

Alex Green

Recipe. How to make Russian Roulette Drink

  1. Chill a shot glass in the freezer for at least 10 minutes.
  2. Pour 0.5 oz of vodka into the chilled shot glass.
  3. Carefully layer 0.5 oz of coffee liqueur over the vodka.
  4. Float 1 oz of Sambuca on top by pouring it over the back of a spoon.
  5. Serve immediately and enjoy responsibly!

Pro Tips

  • Layering: To achieve distinct layers, pour each ingredient slowly and use the back of a spoon to help guide the liquid.
  • Chill: Always serve this shot well-chilled to enhance the flavors and the overall experience.
  • Serving: For an added flair, serve with a coffee bean on top or a small twist of lemon peel to accentuate the citrus notes.

Perfect Pairings

Savory Snacks

  • Cheese Plates: A selection of bold cheeses such as aged cheddar or gorgonzola can stand up to the strong flavors of the cocktail.
  • Charcuterie Boards: Cured meats like prosciutto or salami complement the herbal notes of the Sambuca.
  • Dark Chocolate: Indulge in pieces of dark chocolate to highlight the coffee liqueur's rich, robust character.


  • Tiramisu: This classic Italian dessert pairs wonderfully due to its coffee flavors that match the coffee liqueur.
  • Chocolate Espresso Beans: Crunchy and sweet, they're a playful and delicious nod to the cocktail's coffee undertones.


  • Espresso: Have an espresso on the side to echo the robust coffee tones present in the cocktail for those who want an extra caffeine kick.

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What you could change in Russian Roulette

  • Vodka: Any high-quality vodka can be used. For a smoother taste, consider using a premium brand like Grey Goose or Belvedere.
  • Coffee Liqueur: Kahlúa is the most common, but Tia Maria can also be used for a slightly different flavor profile.
  • Sambuca: If you're not a fan of anise, consider using a black Sambuca for a less intense licorice flavor.

Explore all drinks starting with R here

And of course - twists🍹

Caramel Twist

Substitute coffee liqueur with caramel syrup for a sweeter ride. Add a dash of sea salt to balance. The result? A Roulette that spins you into a sweet, salty dreamland where the bears are made of toffee and the snow tastes like sugar. Ingredients: Vodka, Caramel Syrup, Sambuca, Sea Salt

Citrus Spin

Replace traditional vodka with a citrus-flavored vodka and add a twist of lemon peel. The cocktail now has a zesty edge, making a less traditional, but sunnier Russian Roulette. It's like playing roulette in the middle of a lemon grove in the heart of Siberia! Ingredients: Citrus Vodka, Coffee Liqueur, Sambuca, Lemon Peel

Spicy Shot

Infuse the vodka with hot chili for an hour before. This concoction brings a fiery twist that'll warm you up faster than a bear hug. Proceed with caution—this shot has a kick that could start a revolution. Ingredients: Chili-Infused Vodka, Coffee Liqueur, Sambuca

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Frequently Asked Questions on Russian Roulette

Can I make the Russian Roulette cocktail in advance?

It's best to make the Russian Roulette cocktail fresh to preserve the layers and serve it chilled. Preparing it in advance may cause the layers to mix and the drink to warm up.

Is the Russian Roulette suitable for a large party?

While it's a fun choice for adventurous guests, its strong flavors and high alcohol content make it better suited for smaller occasions or as a novelty drink rather than a main offering.

What's the ideal glassware for serving the Russian Roulette cocktail?

A standard shot glass is ideal for serving the Russian Roulette, as it showcases the layered presentation and is the right size for the potent ingredients.

How do I properly store the ingredients for the Russian Roulette cocktail?

The vodka and coffee liqueur should be stored at room temperature or chilled, while Sambuca should be anise-based and kept in a cool, dark place to retain its flavor.

Can I light the Russian Roulette cocktail on fire?

While Sambuca is flammable, we do not recommend lighting your cocktail on fire as it poses a safety hazard and may alter the taste of the drink.

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