The Cocktailery Affair: The Drink From U.N.C.L.E.

It’s been a long time since the last Cocktailery installment, and I apologize. If it’s any consolation, I’ve been drinking a pretty good bit since the last issue of Cocktailery, and I do hope you have been, too. This month’s Cocktailery is an homage to one of my favorite characters in one of my favorite shows.

Act One: Her Birthday, My Cake

A good friend of mine celebrated a birthday recently. I got her a bottle of Jamaican white rum (nothing like having Mr. Wray and his nephew sing Happy Birthday, right?), but I bought myself a bottle of Pinnacle Cake vodka. I love birthday cake in all its forms, so I’ve been dying to conduct some bartenderly experiments with this.

I love the cakey twist Pinnacle’s put on all my vodka beverages. Appletinis have turned into sort of a tarte-tatin-apple-crisp-crumble flavored drink. Screwdrivers are more like Creamsicles. Pineapple juice goes to upside down cake in one simple step.

But of course, I have two favorites. I named them both for another favorite of mine.

Act Two: Like Siberia, but Lighter and with Soymilk

You all know that a White Russian is made of Kahlua, vodka and cream. I personally prefer a lighter beverage, something with less alcohol and fewer calories. After a lot of experimentation, I came up with something I call the Illya Kuryakin.

(When I was younger, I had quite the schoolgirl crush on David McCallum. Now I have a huge fangirl crush on him.)

Here’s what you need to get cozy with a Kuryakin of your very own:

Instant coffee. This might require a bit of pre-prep, but you’ll thank me later.

Pinnacle Cake vodka.

Light vanilla (not unsweetened, and not plain) soymilk. You could use the Silk Very Vanilla soymilk, too, but that vodka is already pretty sweet. Just be careful.

Ready? Let’s get to drinking.

Act Three: Stirred, Not Shaken

Prepare the coffee. I used hot water and a packet of Starbucks Via (thanks to Tina Glasneck for my Christmas present!), and then I mixed them in a jar. I put the jar in the fridge the night before Kuryakin Time. If you’re in a hurry — like you want to drink right now — you could put it in the freezer. I imagine you could use it warm, but I think coffee should either be really hot or ice cold. Either way, you will have enough coffee for about 8 Kuryakins.

Put a shot of the vodka on the bottom of your glass, hit it with a shot of the instant coffee, and fill the glass with the soymilk. You could put this in a shaker, but then you’d have to wash the shaker. I just stir it with a spoon.

I call it the Illya Kuryakin because it’s not a real White Russian. It is lightweight, delicious fun, just like Mr. Kuryakin. A variation, made with light chocolate soymilk, is equally delicious. I call it the Mocha Kuryakin. Use two shots of vodka for a Double Kuryakin. Two shots of coffee? Well, I don’t know. I was going to call it an Ivan Drago, but I found out there’s already a drink with that name. It’s an extra large White Russian. That made me laugh so hard, I forgot what I was researching.

Act Four: Happy Hour on Channel D?

The D in Channel D is for “drinkee drinkee!” Enjoy.


  1. I just love it! I’m a vodka gal from way back. Sadly White Russians became entangled in some bad memories, but I think this might just shatter that silliness. Thanks for sharing your explorations and I look forward to more. Cheers!


    1. The cake does make it feel harmless. How could cake ever hurt you? 🙂 For my next cake vodka experiment, I think I’m going to fool around with some of the cake vodka shots. I was surprised by the number of recipes for those.


  2. I’m going to have to try cake vodka!. My best recent drink discoveries are
    1) Powell & Mahoney micro-batch mixers. Especially the Ginger! Try a Moscow Mule (directions inside peel away label).
    2) Thatcher’s Organic Artisan Elderflower Liqueur. Mix 1/2 and 1/2 with Sauvignon Blanc for a flowery fresh drink that packs more punch that you expect.


    1. Ohhh, I can’t wait to try those out! Ever try anything with rose water? A place in Charlottesville used to make milkshakes with it, and they were a feast for all the senses.


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