Thursday, April 8, 2010

Brandy Alexander

From his now-famous "Classics Collection," Joe presented me with the Brandy Alexander, a stark, ghost-white cocktail that looks as innocent as milk, and tastes like a chocolate Fribble.

The Recipe:
While chilling a large martini glass, into a cocktail mixing cup full of ice, add:

- a 3 count of brandy, (a "V.S." should suffice. No need for a V.S.O.P or an X.O., as the other ingredients will make the difference negligible.)
- a 2 count créme de cacao
- a generous sploosh of heavy cream

- Strain into the now-chilled martini glass

- Grate some fresh nutmeg over the top, (not too much!)

Chris's Notes: The Brandy Alexander was a favorite drink of John Lennon's during his eighteen-month long "Lost Weekend," (seen here enjoying a table full of them with Peter Lawford, then-girlfriend May Pang, and Harry Nilsson.) The ex-Beatle jokingly referring to the drink as a "Milkshake."
This metaphor should come as no surprise, as the Brandy Alexander is deceptively smooth, sweet, and chocolaty! As mine arrived, the first thing I noticed was the stark white color. As seemingly pure as the driven snow! (Hardly!) And therein lies its deceptive nature!

But fortunately, the Brandy Alexander is so rich and so heavy, that like any desert, drinking too many would not be any easy task, as these babies would fill you right up!

Senior Research Partner, Kerry, (who appropriated the rest of my drink!) admits that although this may not be a warm-weather cocktail, it would have been perfect to pass the time during her recent "Flood Day" - being house-bound due to a recent flash flood here in the Northeast.

Might have at least picked up the spirits!

Joe's Notes: The Brandy Alexander is a fine example of a classic cocktail. It is a variation on The Alexander cocktail. The Brandy Alexander substitutes brandy for the original ingredient of gin. There are many theories on the name but my favorite is the following.

Rector’s (a famous New York eatery before Prohibition) was having a dinner celebrating “Phoebe Snow ,” the fictional advertising character who traveled the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, always in her white dress.

Rector’s bartender, Troy Alexander, came up with a new, white drink for the occasion—gin, crème de cacao and sweet cream, and the cocktail took the name of it's inventor. The earliest known citation of the Alexander was in 1915.

This, as you can see, forces me to comment on an issue that I have avoided like the black plague: "The great martini debate."

Okay, before we get our knickers in a twist, let us pour ourselves a stiff drink, (preferably one from T.G.D.I.T.W.T.W. )

Fact one: A martini is only made with gin. A vodka martini is made with vodka.

Fact two: An Alexander is made with gin. A brandy Alexander is made with Brandy.

Simple really.

Stir it, (my preference), shake it, or agitate it in some fashion that mingles its ingredients, I don't really care at this point. Let us leave that discussion of another day.

What I do care about is the snobbery associated with the Martini. I have heard too many bartenders dismiss drinks presented in a martini glass as not really a martini. Well, we know that, but as long as the word martini is prefixed with another as in vodka, apple, chocolate, cucumber, or Vesper, I believe it is acceptable.

The martini has transformed, it has changed from its original concept, into a style of drink.

Now I know a lot of you, at this point, probably want to take to the streets with flaming torches and pitchforks and banish me as a complete heretic. But before you rally the good people of the village, hear me out.

Let us take as our example, the car.

Although both Leonardo Di Vinci's and Robert Anderson's notion of what constitutes a "car" has since dramatically been changed and improved upon, (let us, at this juncture, ignore the whole Toyota thing,) the basic concept has stayed the same. That is to say it is a passenger-carrying automotive vehicle. Yet we do not call an airplane a flying car or call a boat a water car. So at what point do we change the name? They are still both passenger-carrying automotive vehicles. Does the word car imply that it travels on the ground and must have a minimum of three wheels?

Let us get back to the Martini. The Vodka (ingredient) Martini (style of drink) tells both the bartender and the customer what the drink is, (just like the word “car.”) Should our snobbery surrounding martinis force us to change these now hundreds of martini drinks names just to please a few?

Or are you with the group that believe that the whole naming drinks “Martinis” is just yet another example of our society's decline in both its moral standards and etiquette?

Either way I would be very interested to hear back from our readers, as I have said this is a discussion and not a lecture, (I am not some sort of crazed megalomaniac.) And who knows? You may be able to change my opinion.

Good luck with that!



  1. Thanks a lot for the great recipe. Just from the ingredients to the picture, this looks like a great drink. Keep up the great work with your articles and please stop by my health blog sometime. The web address is

  2. great post! wellcome to my blogroll.