How The Mudslide Cocktail Got Its Name

Despite its grubby-sounding title, the Mudslide is perhaps the most luscious, dessert-like drink in the classic cocktail Rolodex, even more confectionery than the Amaretto Sour. (Although, if you add a shot of amaretto to a Mudslide, then it becomes a Screaming Orgasm, but we digress.) This dairy-forward sweetheart is at its core a three-spirited drink that marries vodka, coffee liqueur, and whiskey cream — and, believe it or not, the "mud" part of its name doesn't come from the chocolate syrup that's often added.

Per the lore, the Wreck Bar & Grill at the Rum Point Club on Grand Cayman Island lays claim to the Mudslide's invention. The story goes that, in the 1970s, a customer strolled in and ordered a White Russian. But, the then-minimally-stocked bar didn't have heavy cream, so the bartender swapped the ingredient for Baileys Irish cream liqueur, and the Mudslide was born. The significance of this swap is twofold: along with flavor, the Irish cream liqueur is what gives the Mudslide its name. The "mud" comes from the cocoa extract in the Baileys (which also separates the Mudslide from the Bushwacker cocktail).

However, when exactly this alleged interaction took place remains unclear. Baileys hit the American market in 1974, and the mid-to-late 1970s is considered the general period during which the Mudslide was created and subsequently popularized. Still, whether or not this proposed origin story bears any waterproof factuality is ultimately less important than the fact that the Mudslide has endured as a beloved sweet sipper half a century later. However it was invented, it's a good drink.

It's all about the Baileys, and we invite you to come roll around in the mud

If you've never tried one before, a modern Mudslide combines vodka, Irish cream liqueur (specifically Baileys), coffee liqueur, and vanilla ice cream, with all ingredients vigorously shaken or blended with ice until smooth. Proto-Mudslides achieved the drink's characteristic rich, silky body with heavy cream, sans custard. Ice cream or no ice cream, Mudslides are typically served in a hurricane glass and garnished with whipped cream and curled chocolate shavings (or, if you're feeling particularly adventurous, a crumbled Butterfinger candy bar). 

The inside of the glass is often adorned with a swirl of chocolate syrup (even more mud). For best results, stash that hurricane glass in the freezer for a half hour before serving to chill. You can customize the profile to be more bitter and coffee-forward by using plain, flavorless vodka and Cantera Negra coffee liqueur, or lean sweeter with vanilla-flavored vodka and Kahlúa. 

If you're making a less-sweet version of the drink, serve it in a coupe glass for a more mature presentation. Still, this "mature" preparation seems better suited for a dimly-lit cocktail bar than for the fittingly playful variation of the drink made eternally popular by The Dude in the cult classic flick "The Big Lebowski." Thanks to the Mudslide, White Russian lovers can enjoy a grown-up digestif fit for dinner parties and slumber parties alike. Bring on the boozy ice cream, and pour one out for the Caribbean tiki bar that started it all.