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50 drinks in 50 states: The White Russian in Indiana

Get inspired to drink your way across America (without ever leaving your backyard) with Margaritaville’s 50 Drinks in 50 States series.

Though I’m sure folks from Indiana have a plethora of cultural high points and standouts to choose from, the rest of America thinks of the Indy 500. Auto racing is, after all, the second-most watched sport in America (after football), and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the racing capital of the world. Maybe they’re proud of this fact – after all, I’m from Pennsylvania and I can’t even imagine what others think of us. Is it our Amish population, perhaps? Terrible Philly sports fans?

Regardless, the Indiana track is rich with tradition. The one that stood out the most to me is that the winner of the Indy 500, after being ushered to the winner’s circle, takes a big swig of milk from a glass bottle, now printed with “Indy 500” for the occasion. After all, milk is exactly what I crave after a hot, stressful, hours-long workout (said no one ever).

The custom began when Louis Meyer, a three-time winner, asked for ice-cold buttermilk (tasty) at the finish line. An executive with the dairy industry saw a gorgeous marketing opportunity and proclaimed that the winner each year would be provided with milk – skim, 2% or full-fat (technically 4% – and now you know). The ritual has continued, and now it’s as expected as the Borg-Warner trophy.

Truth be told, they mostly just drink beer in Indiana, but as this milk story stood out to me (and milk isn’t necessarily a prized ingredient for bartenders), I present to you the lighter version of the drink we all know and love – the White Russian. Typically made with heavy cream (36% milk fat and clocking in at 50 calories per tablespoon), it’s not necessary easy on the waistline. Combined with the richness of the Kahlua, whole milk does the job nicely for a fraction of the calories. So fix yourself a drink just as the cars cross the finish line this May, and wait for the winner to do his (or her) thing.

Lightened-up White Russian

  • 1 ½ oz. vodka
  • 1 ½ oz. Kahlua
  • 3 oz. whole milk


  1. Place ice in an old fashioned glass. Add vodka and Kahlua.
  2. Top with milk, serve.