The BRANDY ALEXANDER Cocktail Recipe and History

Based on the cocktail known simply as the Alexander which uses gin instead of brandy, a Brandy Alexander is made with equal parts Brandy, Crème de Cacao and cream. According to one grizzled old bartender I knew, the Brandy Alexander is made with dark Creme de Cacao and if it's made with white Creme de Cacao it's known as a Panama. It's primarily considered a dessert cocktail and ice cream is often used in place of the cream.

There's a great lineage to the Brandy Alexander, a family tree of the Alexander family, and it has the typical shrouded past of many vintage cocktails.  Reportedly it was created for the wedding of Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood and Viscount Lascelles, in 1922, however, well know opera critic Alexander Dragon claimed The Brandy Alexander was was named after him. Some reports claim it was named after Russian Tsar, Alexander II, while others attribute it to Troy Alexander, a bartender at Rector's restaurant in New York City, who purportedly created it as a drink for a fictitious advertising character called Phoebe Snow.

My history of the drink goes back to my 21st birthday. A Brandy Alexander was the first cocktail I legally ordered at a bar ... I had been going into bars and ordering drinks for two years without ever having been carded. It was kind of nice to finally be "legal" even though things were more lax back in those days and the DUI laws not as punitive. Memories abound whenever I shake one up, and I do, frequently.


1 Part Brandy
1 Part Creme de Cacao*
1 Part Cream

Garnish: Dark Cocoa Powder, Dusting of Nutmeg

Glass: Cocktail or Coupe

Tools: Cocktail Shaker

Dip the rim of your glass and some of the creme de cocoa then into the dark cocoa powder. Chill the glass in the freezer.
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add the brandy, creme de cacao and the cream then shake until chilled.
Strain into your chilled glass, dust with some nutmeg and serve.

* Most recipes do not specify either white or dark crème de cacao. The few who do call out white, most likely to keep the drink color lighter. There is no flavor difference between the two because the only difference is a coloring agent added to the dark version so either is acceptable in the recipe.

  • John Lennon loved Brandy Alexanders and called them his "milkshakes".
  • Mirroring John Lennon, Lou Grant in The Mary Tyler Moore Show asks a bartender for a malt, "Do you know how to make a brandy Alexander? Just leave out the brandy and give us the Alexander!"
  • The Brandy Alexander also made an appearance on the pilot episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
  • It was featured in the movie The Days of Wine & Roses where Jack Lemmon buys Lee Remick the drink because she loves chocolate but doesn't like the taste of alcohol.
  • The Brandy Alexander has been mentioned in numerous other television shows and movies from the first days of film to present day, including The Big Bang Theory, Mad Men, Cheers, Fantasy Island, the Rockford Files, American Horror Story 5,  Three's Company, No More Orchids, Tattoo, Bedazzled, just to name a few.
  • There are two songs entitled Brandy Alexander, including one by Feist.
January 31st is Brandy Alexander Day.

Updated 1-2021

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