Rich and strong, our boozy Brandy Alexander ramps up the cognac to create a better beverage. Craft one at home in just five minutes if you can handle it.
We were Brandy Alexander novices until we crafted the creamy dessert cocktail at home. After three tries, we became Brandy Alexander fans.
We also became a little bit intoxicated but that’s a different story.
What Is a Brandy Alexander?
Wondering what a Brandy Alexander is? While the creamy cocktail may be a Hollywood darling, it’s not as popular as dessert drinks like Eggnogs, Mudslides and Milk Punch. In fact, we had never tasted the classic pre-prohibition cocktail until we crafted Brandy Alexanders at home.
Following the standard Brandy Alexander recipe, our first two attempts included equal parts of cognac, crème de cacao and cream. We crafted one with dark crème de cacao and the other with white crème de cacao to see which version of the chocolate liqueur we preferred.
While we both agreed that the Brandy Alexander crafted with dark crème de cacao was superior, we weren’t particularly wowed by the drink. To us, it was too similar to a Milk Punch to be special. So we took the cognac cocktail to the next level…
By increasing the cognac from one ounce to one and a half ounces, we essentially changed the ingredient ratio from 1:1:1 to 1:1.5:1. Voila! This boozier Brandy Alexander was a winner and the one that we want to imbibe again and again and again.
History of the Brandy Alexander
Most cocktail historians agree that the original Alexander was crafted with gin, crème de cacao and cream. Beyond that origin, the stories get fuzzy. Were the historians drinking too many Brandy Alexanders? It’s possible.
Troy Alexander, a bartender at the Rector Hotel in New York in the early 1900s, is a solid candidate for the honor of creating the original gin-based Alexander. If so, he probably named the drink after himself. However, some historians assert that the drink was named after a Philadelphia Phillies baseball pitcher named Grover Cleveland Alexander while others link it to other Alexanders. No, Alexander the Great was not one of the Alexanders.
The brandy version of the Alexander appeared in William J Tarling’s Cafe Royal Cocktail Book in 1937.
While its history remains a mystery, the Brandy Alexander has played a supporting role in movies like The Days of Wine and Roses and TV shows like Mad Men. John Lennon compared Brandy Alexanders to milkshakes And, after a century (give or take) in the bars, it inspired a 2007 Feist song in which the singer rhapsodizes about how the Brandy Alexander goes down easy.
Yes it does, Feist. Yes it does.
Brandy Alexander Ingredients
The Brandy Alexander’s ingredient list is short enough to count on one hand:
You likely have Cognac and Crème de Cacao in your liquor cabinet. If not, you should easily find them at your local liquor store. As for cream and nutmeg, both pantry items are available at markets around the world.
Like many Brandy Alexander recipes, our recipe calls for cognac, a twice-distilled, barrel-aged brandy produced in Cognac, France. Similar to our Vieux Carré recipe, we use Courvoisier V.S. cognac with a 40% ABV.
However, unlike our Grasshopper recipe, we use dark crème de cacao instead of white crème de cacao. We bought a bottle of Bols dark crème de cacao for 14 euros. It has a 24% ABV and a rich cocoa flavor.
How To Craft a Brandy Alexander Cocktail
You don’t need any special bar tools to craft a Brandy Alexander at home. We use the following basic bar tools in our recipe:
You can improvise if you’re missing any or all of these basic bar tools. However, none is expensive.
Discover 10 necessary bar tools for lazy mixologists.
The first step is to measure the two liquors. You’ll want to measure one ounce of the crème de cacao and one and a half ounces of cognac.
We use a Japanese Jigger in this and other cocktail recipes to ensure accurate measurements and clean pours.
Click here to purchase a Japanese Jigger if you don’t have a jigger or want an inexpensive upgrade.
Pour each liquor directly into a shaker as you measure them.
We recommend using a Boston Shaker since it’s easy to use and clean. Plus, it never leaks and the lid doesn’t stick to the base.
Click here to purchase a Boston Shaker if you don’t have a shaker or want an inexpensive upgrade.
Next, measure an ounce of cream and pour it into the shaker with the liquors. Add a handful of ice.
Close the shaker and shake vigorously until the liquids are thoroughly mixed and chilled. This step should take about 20 seconds.
Strain the creamy drink directly into a coupe or martini glass. You could also serve it in a lowball glass on the rocks.
The last step is to lightly grate nutmeg directly on to the cocktail.
Don’t skip this final step. Freshly grated nutmeg enhances the Brandy Alexander’s flavor, appearance and aroma.
Brandy Alexander Variations and Alternatives
Our boozy Brandy Alexander is a pretty perfect potent potable. However, here are some variations and alternatives if you want to experiment to make the drink your own.
Brandy Alexander Recipe
- 1.5 ounces cognac or brandy
- 1 ounce dark creme de cacao
- 1 ounce cream
- nutmeg, freshly grated
- ice cubes
- Combine cognac, creme de cacao and cream in a shaker.
- Add several ice cubes and shake for 20 seconds until the liquids are mixed and chilled.
- Strain into a martini or coupe glass.
- Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
- You can replace the dark cacao with white cacao based on preference and availability.
- You can reduce the cognac from 1.5 ounces to 1 ounce if you prefer a less boozy beverage.
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Premium Cocktail Shaker Set: Two-Piece Pro Boston Shaker Set. Unweighted 18oz & Weighted 28oz Martini Drink Shaker made from Stainless Steel 304
Japanese Jigger - Premium Double Cocktail Jigger, 1oz/2oz made from Stainless Steel 304
OXO SteeL Cocktail Strainer
McCormick Gourmet Organic Whole Nutmeg, 1.5 oz
Norpro Nutmeg Grater
Thirsty for More Cocktails?
Try our Absinthe Frappe, Amaretto Sour, Americano, Aperol Spritz, Aviation, Bee’s Knees, Bijou, Black Russian, Boulevardier, Caipirinha, Clover Club, Creamsicle, Daiquiri, Diplomat, Dirty Shirley, Eggnog, Emerald, Espresso Martini, French 75, G+T, Gibson, Gimlet, Grasshopper, Hemingway Daiquiri, Hugo Spritz, Hurricane, Irish Coffee, Kentucky Mule, Kir Royale, Last Word, Manhattan, Maple Bourbon Smash, Martinez, Mauresque, Milk Punch, Mint Julep, Mojito, Moscow Mule, Mudslide, Negroni, New York Sour, Old Fashioned, Pimm’s Cup, Paper Plane, Pink Lady, Porto Tonico, Ramos Gin Fizz, Revolver, Sazerac, Sidecar, Spicy Margarita, Tipperary, Tomate, Vieux Carré, Whiskey Ginger, Whiskey Sour, White Lady and White Russian cocktail recipes.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.