The Brandy Alexander is larger than life. Perhaps not the trendiest drink today, it was once considered the fanciest and most sophisticated drink on earth. Even James Bond once ordered it at a bar — and that means all the cool people were drinking it.
The creamy drink is dessert in a coupe glass, it’s just a treat, and it deserves more recognition. Here’s all you need to know about the Brandy Alexander, its history and how to make a Brandy Alexander at home! If you thought sweet, creamy drinks were not awesome, be prepared to change your mind.
History of the Brandy Alexander Cocktail
There’s an entire family of ‘Alexander’ drinks. There are gin and a vodka Alexanders, for example, and although the first version of the creamy, cacao-scented drink was made with gin, the most popular is made with Brandy.
Bartender Troy Alexander created the original Alexander cocktail, as part of a marketing campaign of the early 1900s that promoted traveling by train with style.
The Brandy version came to be around 1937, and it remained a popular drink well into the 80s. Then it lost popularity, but guess what? The Brandy Alexander is back, and it’s more popular than ever!
To make a Brandy Alexander, you need Brandy, and the nicer the brandy, the better the cocktail. For the most refined rendition, use Cognac. By the way, brandy is basically distilled wine, and it’s made with grapes. Then it’s aged in barrels where it gains its characteristic caramel color and spicy aroma.
You also need cream, or better yet, half & half. Adding dairy to cocktails is a centenary tradition, and no one says no to a creamy drink from time to time.
Finally, you need dark creme de cacao, which is a fancy way of saying chocolate liqueur. You might not have this ingredient at home, but you’ll find it in every liqueur store. There’s a white version too, but you want to use the dark version for a chocolatey color.
Variations and Substitutions
The easiest way of modifying a classic Alexander is switching the base spirit. Gin, vodka, whiskey, rum or tequila, they all make excellent Alexanders. Try vanilla vodka; it makes the best Alexander ever.
Then you can also substitute creme de cacao for a fancier liqueur like Godiva. Or you can add a splash of coffee liqueur for a mocha-inspired drink — the Mocha Alexander.
The Dreamy Alexander has a splash of orange liqueur, and the citrus scents really give the drink an entirely new personality. And you surely know chocolate and mint are compatible flavors, so why not add a splash of mint liqueur to create an Alexander Mint?
Brandy Alexander Recipe
- Cocktail shaker
- Coupe Glass
- 1 1/2 ounces of brandy (or Cognac)
- 1 ounce dark creme de cacao
- 1 ounce half & half
- Grated nutmeg for garnish
- Fill the coupe glass with ice water.
- In the shaker filled willed with ice, pour in the brandy or Cognac, dark creme de cacao and half & half.
- Shake for 10-15 seconds.
- Throw out the ice water and pour the cocktail into the coupe glass through the strainer.
- Garnish with grated nutmeg.