As a connoisseur of both stoner flicks and all vodka-related beverages I was thrilled to learn of a Big Lebowski-themed restaurant opening in Robins, Iowa (925 Robins Square Dr.). Advertised as a bar and grill, this establishment, opened in February by Shawn and Nola Bodensteiner, was practically begging me to come judge their White Russians (Caucasians, in the parlance of our times). Having waited tables at a similarly Dude-themed eatery last fall (in Evanston, Ill.), I assert there may be no one in eastern Iowa more qualified to lay down an assessment of this cocktail. So I grabbed my beau and set out to drink not one, but four of them.
The parking lot was jammed when we pulled in shortly after 6 p.m. on a Saturday evening, but there was room at the bar and the bartender smiled knowingly when we asked for the only beverage anyone should ever order at a restaurant called Lebowski’s. Our drinks came in tumblers straight out of the film and they were frothy and delicious, if packing a little less of a punch than I would have hoped. Which, on the whole, describes Lebowski’s to a T.
Considering that the film from which it takes its name wholeheartedly earns its R-rating, this joint was pretty family friendly. And while the Dude’s easygoing mug grinned out at me from the art on the walls and the menu boasted The Dude burger, the lighting was too bright and the atmosphere just didn’t lend itself to sitting and drinking.
Overall, the White Russian was a tasty classic made well. The coffee liqueur was in perfect ratio to whatever cream was used. A splash more vodka and it would have been altogether perfect. Each round was totally consistent, which suggests that it is the recipe, not the bartender, which needs adjustment. As it is, I was able to consume several of them without feeling the tell-tale humming in my lips that means I should take an Uber or wait an hour while nursing a large glass of water before I drive. Which, considering the deliciousness of the drink, and Lebowski’s somewhat out-of-the-way location, is probably a blessing.
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 195.