Tommy Engstrom

Tropical Russian.

Tommy Engstrom
Tropical Russian.

Growing up I remember wanting so badly to be older than I was. When I was in grade school, I wished that I could get rid of my glasses and be cool like the kids in middle school. In middle school, I was heinously awkward - braces across my teeth, my voice cracking as I gave my speech at graduation practice. In high school, I was over Libertyville and wanted to move onto college and gain my independence and be allowed to drink alcohol without threat of consequences. At the University of Illinois, well, I just wanted to be an adult. 

Why is it that we wish away our lives, always looking for the next chapter in life? Let me tell you something, a week from tomorrow I turn 29-years old and I wish that I could make life slow down. It's not that I regret how life has panned out thus far, but I have learned so many life lessons that allow me to think through things differently. Number one being that it is so incredible important to be present in the moment. 

It's kind of fun to think about about the past - like my 21st birthday. My first legal drink was a chocolate martini at Chicago's Plymouth Grill. Go ahead, make fun of me all you want because once I got back to Libertyville my brother-in-law took me to a local pub for a shot of Jameson, thinking that I would not be able to handle it well. Surprise, I went to U of I. I knew how to take a shot. Little by little, my knowledge of "real" cocktails began expanding. One of the next drinks I tried was a White Russian. Vodka. Kahlua. Cream. It was absolutely delicious. 

Just the other day I was thinking back on that story and got the sudden urge for a White Russian. I didn't want a normal one though. I began thinking about what I could do to make a twist on a classic recipe. It's hot outside. It is summer. Summer = tropical. Tropical = coconuts. What would happen if I made the White Russian with coconut milk instead of cream? I am glad to report that it works. And it is delicious! Don't believe me? Try out the recipe below!


| Tropical Russian |
Recipe adapted from the recipe on the Kahlua website
Makes 1 cocktail


1 part Kahlua
2 parts Double Cross vodka
1 part coconut milk


  1. Fill a rocks glass with ice cubes.
  2. Add Kahlúa and Double Cross vodka, finish up with a coconut milk layer.