The Basics History & Trends

6 Things You Should Know About the Mudslide

Get the 411 on this Caribbean classic.

A frothy Mudslide cocktail in a glass coupe
Tim Nusog

The Mudslide may be one of the cocktail world’s most decadent, guilty pleasures, but unlike the time-sensitive Tom & Jerry or effort-driven Eggnog, it’s a breeze to make. From its history to the best way to make it, these are six things you need to know about the often derided, but undeniably enjoyable Mudslide.

1. It’s All About the Cream

The Mudslide is not a drink for the lactose intolerant—this rich and frothy indulgence is all about the dairy and cream liqueurs, specifically Irish cream liqueur and heavy cream. Subbing in a “healthier” alternative like 2% milk or, worse, skim, doesn’t cut it. Add in coffee liqueur and vodka, and the only natural disaster in sight is the complete destruction of any healthy diet you may have been following.

2. Its Roots Are Caribbean

While it might seem like a drink invented by someone on holiday at a ski lodge, the Mudslide saw its birth at Wreck Bar in Rum Point Club on Grand Cayman Island. “We are the home of the mudslide,” says Kyle Creasap, the food and beverage director of Rum Point Club. “As legend has it, the Mudslide was invented here based on the fact that a customer came in and wanted to order a White Russian. And at that time, Wreck Bar was just a thatched hut. We did not have heavy cream,” he says. “But they had a bottle of Irish cream liqueur, and that’s how it first happened.”

A Mudslide in a plastic cup at Wreck Bar
Rum Point Club

3. It Was Invented in the Mid-to-Late 1970s

While there are more than a few articles attributing the drink’s invention to the 1950s, one detail refutes this notion and places the creation snug in the latter half of the ’70s: the use of Irish cream. This key component was not officially launched as an international bottled product until Baileys debuted it in 1974.

4. There’s Not Much Chocolate in It

The word “mud” in the name would lead a reasonable person to believe that chocolate plays a key role in the drink, like in a Mississippi Mud Pie. However, the drink doesn’t call for it as an ingredient—the chocolate in a Mudslide comes from the Bailey’s, which has a little cocoa extract in it. Still, a dash of aromatic chocolate bitters gives the drink a welcome layer of complexity.

5. It’s Better Shaken

Like any drink that utilizes cream or cream liqueurs, the Mudslide is one that should be made with a firm shake, rather than stirred. “I prefer it shaken and served chilled,” says Travis Sanders, head bartender at Pennyroyal and Shaker + Spear in Seattle. “It creates a better balance and flavor.” Shaking better incorporates the ingredients, and lends the drink the lovely, frothy texture it deserves.

6. Amaretto Takes It from Muddy to Dirty

The 1980s was a flamboyant time for cocktails, with plenty of creativity but not a whole lot of propriety. For instance, the eye roll-inspiring riffs on the Mudslide that arose: Add amaretto, and it becomes the colorfully monikered Screaming Orgasm. Swap the vodka for amaretto entirely, and it’s just a regular Orgasm. Neither name is the classiest, and it’s inadvisable to request one on a first date.