Brandy Alexander Recipes: The Classic and Making It a Shake

Updated November 16, 2021
The Classic Brandy Alexander

Dessert cocktails are an indulgent way to satisfy the sweet tooth without finishing your night overly full. You may think of espresso or chocolate martinis first, but a brandy Alexander is just as delicious. Served straight up or frozen, consider blending one of these up next time.

Brandy Alexander

Brandy Alexander

The history of this drink might be murky, but thankfully it's no mystery on how to shake up this delectable classic.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, brandy, dark crème de cacao, and cream.
  3. Shake to chill.
  4. Strain into chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with grated nutmeg.

Frozen Brandy Alexander

Frozen Brandy Alexander

Enjoy the classic, but in a delicious and cold blended form.

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups vanilla ice cream
  • 1½ ounces brandy
  • 1½ ounces crème de cacao
  • Whipped cream and grated nutmeg for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a blender, add vanilla ice cream, brandy, and crème de cacao.
  2. Blend until smooth.
  3. Pour into rocks glass.
  4. Garnish with whipped cream and grated nutmeg.

History of the Brandy Alexander

The lore behind the brandy Alexander is storied and varied. Based only on rumors, some say it originated in 1922 at the royal wedding of Princess Mary, the aunt of Queen Elizabeth II. A playwright and drama critic, Alexander Woollcott, claims he's the namesake. Others allege its name is due to a Russian tsar, Alexander II. A few whispers persist that its origins and source come from Troy Alexander, a bartender who whipped up a white-hued cocktail to serve at a dinner party in honor of Phoebe Snow, a well-known advertising character from the early 1900s.

Today, only two Brandy Alexander facts from its storied history are verifiable: the recipe first appeared in print around 1916, and, upon first trying it, John Lennon enjoyed the drink enough to give it an enthusiastic comparison to a milkshake.

Best Brandies for the Brandy Alexander

While the brandy Alexander is spirit-forward, you don't need to splurge on decadent, expensive bottles to enjoy this cocktail. Consider a brandy that is smooth, with notes of vanilla or caramel to complement the crème de cacao and cream.

  • Argonaut Fat Thumb is driven by notes of toasted oak, nutmeg, and vanilla that would make an excellent cocktail.
  • Fundador Brandy has a slightly nuttier taste, which makes it a great pairing with the grated nutmeg garnish.
  • Deau Cognac VS has a subtler vanilla flavor but a silky smooth body.

Garnishes

Grated nutmeg

Like many dessert cocktails, there is room for variance and change to suit personal preferences. The traditional garnish is grated nutmeg, either sprinkled directly onto the drink or used to create a design or pattern. If nutmeg isn't for you, grated cinnamon is also an option.

For a more unusual approach, consider a citrus touch with an orange peel or dehydrated wheel. The peel adds a subtle tinge of citrus zest and brightness, whereas the dehydrated orange wheel ups the visual appeal. Other atypical garnish choices include a cinnamon stick, a chocolate syrup swirl, or chocolate shavings. To really step up the garnish, dip the rim in melted chocolate, allowing it to cool and solidify before serving.

A Toast to Alexander

Despite the notoriously mysterious history of the brandy Alexander, it's a cocktail that's well worth sipping. While slow to make an appearance after dinner, living in the shadow of other dessert martinis, it's a tasty drink. If you want a new after-dinner sip, consider whipping up a brandy Alexander recipe or maybe one of the other delicious brandy drinks you haven't tried yet.

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Brandy Alexander Recipes: The Classic and Making It a Shake