Drink of the Week: Brandy Alexander

Brandy Alexander.The biggest drinking holiday of the year is tomorrow night, and I’m thinking it might be time for something really special, or at least something especially fun to cap off a long day of drinking, eating, and socializing. We’re basically talking about a pleasantly uplifting dessert in a glass that makes for a very nice egg nog alternative.

Brandy Alexander is a simple enough drink that is typically regarded as a true cocktail classic and a more cocktailian-friendly version of your Chocolate Martinis and such. It’s true that acerbic postwar cocktail scribe David A. Embury dissed it to some extent in “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks,” noting that it was the opposite of the appetite-encouraging, pre-dinner drinks he preferred. At the same time, even he agreed it made a grand dessert drink, even if believed those to be of a lower order.

On the other hand, this is not a drink to show off your favorite brand of super-high end Cognac or Armagnac; it appears it was developed during prohibition to hide the flavors of poor quality liquor. I should add that the original (the Alexander), although a less popular version of this drink, was made with gin. I’m not sure if was the bathtub variety but, if you’re talking Tanqueray or Gordon’s, it’s also worth a try that way. Definitely feel free to substitute your favorite whiskey or rum in this one if your New Year’s liquor cabinet is brandy-impoverished.

Brandy Alexander

1 ounce brandy
1 ounce crème de cacao (most prefer the dark colored version)
1 ounce heavy cream
Ground nutmeg (desirable garnish)

Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Top with nutmeg, if you’ve got it. Enjoy and hope that, somehow, someway, 2017 will better than last year, at least for celebrities.


I used Reynal and Paul Masson VSOP for my Brandy Alexander. The Reynal was, perhaps, ever so slightly better, or maybe that’s just my prejudice. More importantly, I preferred DeKuyper’s creme de cacao over the less chocolatey Hiram Walker take.

Still, with all that high fat creme, this is, very frankly, a drink that’s hard to foul up, which might be a good thing if you’re making this to cap off a long New Year’s Eve. I did try my hand at a “diet” version using half-and-half instead of heavy cream. A bit of a letdown, really. If you’re worried about gaining weight, this is probably not the drink for you anyway. (Indeed, I only dared this one myself because, thanks to post election stress and terror, I actually lost well over 10 pounds. Thanks, Donald!)

And with that, let me send off my best wishes for a great 2017, despite everything, to all of you reading this and all of you who aren’t!