Sure, we’ve all had at least one Brandy Alexander in our lifetimes. But rarely does anyone wonder who the eponymous Alexander was. My good friend Gary ‘gaz” Regan wrote about the origins of this dessert-like concotion a few years ago. Here’s what he discovered.
“One of the earliest known printed recipes for the Alexander can be found in Hugo Ensslin’s 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks. The cocktail, according to historian Barry Popik, was likely born at Rector’s, New York’s premier pre-Prohibition lobster palace. The bartender there, a certain Troy Alexander, created his eponymous concoction in order to serve a white drink at a dinner celebrating Phoebe Snow.
Phoebe Snow, I should explain, was a fictitious character used in an advertising campaign for the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad. The company wanted to get the message across that it powered its locomotives with anthracite, a clean-burning variety of coal. The ads emphasized this by showing Ms. Snow traveling while wearing a snow-white dress.
Getting back to the Brandy Alexander, I should note that it was first known as the Alexander #2. Want to know the secret to making the drink? Go heavy on the brandy and light on the sweet stuff. My recipe is a decent jumping-off point; you can play with it to make it your own. Try the original gin-based Alexander, too. It’s a mighty fine drink.”
Here’s gaz’s recipe:
2 oz Cognac or other fine aged brandy
1 oz Dark crème de cacao
1 oz Cream
Garnish: Freshly grated nutmeg
Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.