Brandy Alexander

January 31st marks Brandy Alexander Day.

The primary components of this cocktail are brandy, creme de cacao, and cream.

This version is the second, but also the most renowned incarnation of the Alexander cocktail.

The original Alexander, which featured gin instead of brandy, made its debut in the early 20th century. Its recipe, consisting of equal parts gin, creme de cacao, and cream, was already documented in Hugo Ensslin’s 1916 book “Recipes of Mixing Drinks.”

There are two main theories about the cocktail’s origin and its name.

According to one theory, the cocktail owes its existence to baseball, specifically the 1915 World Series. The bartender of the Racquet Club was so enthralled by the games that he created the cocktail to serve during the Series and named it after Philadelphia pitcher Grover Alexander.

According to another version, the cocktail was crafted by Troy Alexander, a bartender at the New York restaurant Rector’s, and named after him. Troy concocted it for a dinner celebrating the success of DL&W Railroads’ advertising campaign. DL&W Railroads boasted their use of “pure anthracite” for their trains, which allowed passengers to return from their journeys without the usual layer of grime. The campaign’s mascot was Phoebe Snow, a drawn lady who always traveled in a white dress. Serving a whitish cocktail at such an event seemed quite fitting.

The cocktail gained immense popularity during the Prohibition era, as cream helped mask the poor taste of black-market gin.

According to a popular version of the story, brandy replaced gin for the first time in 1922 in London, during Princess Anna’s wedding. It was crafted by McElhone at Ciro’s Club in honor of the noble bride.

The brandy version of the cocktail eventually eclipsed its gin-based predecessor.

The International Bartenders Association (IBA) even lists the brandy version as simply “Alexander,” omitting the “Brandy.”

Over the course of its century-long existence, many variations of the cocktail have emerged.
Alexander the Great – with vodka instead of gin
Alexander’s Sister – with creme de menthe instead of creme de cacao
Alexandra – with white creme de cacao instead of dark creme de cacao
Irish Alexander – with brandy instead of gin and Irish creme liqueur instead of creme de cacao
Alejandro – with rum instead of gin
And many more…

Here’s the IBA-approved recipe:

1 oz / 30 ml Brandy
1 oz / 30 ml Dark Creme de Cacao
1 oz / 30 ml Fresh Cream

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled glass.

Garnish – fresh ground nutmeg on top.

Cocktail glass

The cocktail is creamy, moderately sweet, and gentle, making it an excellent choice for dessert.

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