Photo courtesy of Arthur Bovino
A sweet, creamy cocktail with cultural references as wide-ranging as Three’s Company and Mad Men. An affectionate nickname the likes of “milkshake.” A day (January 31) on the food and drink holiday calendar dedicated to its existence. You’d think for all that, the contents and the origins of the Brandy Alexander would be more commonly known.
What it is: A cocktail containing equal parts brandy, dark crème de cacao, and heavy cream. It is usually served straight up in a cocktail glass.
Where it’s from: As often is the case, the origin is debated. One story puts it as a variation of the Alexander cocktail. That cocktail originated at a famous midtown New York lobster palace called Rector’s. Supposedly, around 1915, Rector’s hosted a celebratory dinner for Phoebe Snow, a white dress-wearing character created to advertise the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad. Rector’s bartender, Troy Alexander, combined gin, crème de cacao, and sweet cream, as a white drink for the party. The cocktail took his name, and later, brandy was substituted for gin, thus, Brandy Alexander.
Another story attributes the inspiration for the cocktail to the 1922 wedding of Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood and Viscount Lascelles.
Variations: If served over crushed ice, the Brandy Alexander basically becomes a frappé (also, vanilla ice cream can be used instead of heavy cream for a Brandy Alexander milkshake). Another variation includes Alexander’s Sister, which keeps the brandy and heavy cream, but substitutes crème de menthe.
1 ounce Brandy
1 ounce dark crème de cacao
1 ounce heavy cream
Freshly-grated nutmeg, for garnish
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour in all ingredients except for garnish and shake. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a pinch of nutmeg.