Well, about six years later, I finally got around to making a video about my Brandy Alexander story. Click below to watch the Small Screen Network video about my dad and his first experience with Brandy Alexanders. Then come back to read the post and grab the recipe.
All this talk of Chocolate Martinis is giving me diabetes. Sure, you can pour a bunch of sweet, creamy liqueurs into a glass and call it the Fine Art of Mixology, but you’d be missing the whole point. Why not try something that’s going to reward you from start to finish, a drink that packs the Bacchanalian punch of brandy with the delicate flavors of chocolate and cream?
The Brandy Alexander, popular during the first part of the 20th Century, was likely a derivative of the Alexander Cocktail, which uses gin in place of brandy. Both are wonderful concoctions, but the brandy version achieved greater fame in the pantheon of cocktail culture, possibly because of brandy being revered as a rare and sophisticated spirit and gin having a more pedestrian image pre- and during Prohibition.
Okay. On to the drink. It’s so worth it to find whole nutmeg in your grocery store and grate it yourself, rather than using the stale, pre-grated crap you’ll find.
Brandy Alexander Print Me
- 1 oz brandy or Cognac
- 1 oz dark (or light, if you prefer) crème de cacao
- 1 oz cream
- Shake well over cracked ice and strain into a chilled nine ounce cocktail glass. Grate fresh nutmeg on top of the resulting foam and serve immediately.
Recipe printed courtesy of jeffreymorgenthaler.com
13 Replies to “Brandy Alexander”
If you are still looking for excellent creme de cacao 8 years later, or if someone else just found this, Tempus Fugit is superb.
Honestly unless you are making something that calls for an actual ton of ground nutmeg (or thereabouts) there is no reason to have the pre-ground stuff in the house for bartending OR cooking.
(I might give someone a pass if they are trying to recreate a family recipe, as then the duller flavor of pre-ground spices might be necessary to taste right. Like I have a recipe which only tastes the way I think it should – the way my grandmother made it – if I use cheap, pre-ground, probably old pepper from the supermarket. Freshly ground has too much kick and the wrong flavor profile.)
But for most things calling for nutmeg, the flavor of freshly ground stuff is so much better and it’s so easy to do – I use nutmeg a lot in eggs (just a touch brings out the flavor without tasting of nutmeg at all) so I actually have a little contraption from Microplane that has a grater and also a little dark plastic storage box so you can keep a couple pieces of nutmeg right in the box ready to go. (That might be a nice little traveling bar/home bar gift actually, although a larger microplane looks cooler to use.)
Ok, the one I have is a Microplane grate and shake. http://us.microplane.com/microplanenutmeggrater.aspx Like I said, not as attractive as a nicer normal microplane, but the dark compartment helps protect the nutmeg from degrading due to light exposure.
One of the earliest references to the “Alexander Cocktail” was a rye & Benedictine concoction sans crème de cacao. I refer you to the 1910 publication of “Jack’s Manual on the Vintage and Production, Care and Handling of Wines, Liquors, etc.” (archive.org/details/jacksmanualonvin00groh).
I’ve recently enjoyed your video on the topic and was prompted to comment.
Any suggestion on a good brand of creme de cacao? All the bottles I’ve tried taste a bit too much like tootsie rolls… Is there a ‘high end’ creme de cacao?
I have yet to try making a Brandy Alexander, but I have to say that the gin-based Alexander turned out to be a real eye-opener for me. The flavor of an inexpensive gin like Gordon’s melds so nicely with the Creme de Cacao to make a super-chocolatey flavor, and you can make buckets of these for the price of a single bottle of Godiva liqueur.
Thank you! Brandy Alexanders are my favorite. You inspired me tonight to make one!!!
I am glad I read this if only to discover a wonderful drink. The Brandy Alexander is now part of my home bar menu! Thanks!
Nothing says disaffected, sexually nebulous upper class youth like a Brandy Alexander. I feel an urge to read Brideshead Revisited.
But in all seriousness, the drink is a classic in a way no chocolatini ever will be.
That looks like the kind of sweet drink I could get behind! Much as I might like a spiked milkshake, too many dessert-ish mixed drinks (I wont say “cocktails”) are just… inane. Bunches of sugary liquor sloshed together at random.
This is a drink with class. Thank you, sir. Bravo!
You’re right about the nutmeg — I bought it this year for my egg nog. Heavenly!
You’re right about the nutmeg — I bought it this year for my egg nog. Heavanly!
Wow. I mean, just wow, man. What an amazing drink.
I had a few of these a while ago, and they didn’t quite seem to be my sort of thing. They tasted a bit like Bayleys with brandy. I didn’t really know where I went wrong. I thought I should have used something better than VS Cognac. I was wondering whether twitching the ratios a bit would do any good. Maybe I hadn’t shaken enough.
But then I managed to find whole nutmeg. Jeff’s right, nutmeg is a make-it-or-break-it ingredient in this cocktail. I mean, this is what gods have after dinner. Just amazing.
Your recent writings regarding the true definition of a Martini got me to thinking about a variation I like to prepare for myself at home.
I replace the Vermouth with Cointreau. I typically use only enough Vermouth or Cointreau to coat the ice cubes and dump out any excess before adding my gin (preferably Plymouth, though I’ve been enjoying locally made Cricket Club lately).
Is this still a Martini or would you consider it to more strictly be a cocktail?