January 31st is National Brandy Alexander Day. We look at it as a transition out of Healthy Food Month at THE NIBBLE and to gird ourselves for Valentine’s Day carbs. The creamy cocktail was a favorite in our teenage years: When we turned 18, it was the legal drinking age in our state, so this was legal teenage drinking.
It’s dangerously good—like a spiked milkshake.
According to the Classic Cocktail Club of Milan, Italy, the Brandy Alexander was created in 1922 in London, “at the time of” the wedding of Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood to Henry, Viscount Lascelles (later, 6th Earl of Harewood).
So why is it called Alexander? It’s a variation of an earlier, gin-based cocktail called the Alexander.
Who was that Alexander? No one related to royalty, and an New Yorker to boot.
According to Liquor.com, one of the earliest known printed recipes for the Alexander dates to 1916. The cocktail is believed to have originated at Rector’s (est. 1899), a seafood restaurant in the New York theater district. The bartender there, one Troy Alexander, created the eponymous concoction in order to serve a white drink at a dinner celebrating Phoebe Snow.
Of course, in 1916 the singer Phoebe Snow (1950-2011) was not around. This was a fictitious advertising character Phoebe Snow, a railroad traveler who wore a snow-white dress. She graced an advertising campaign for the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad. The railroad was trumpeting that it powered its locomotives with anthracite, a clean-burning variety of coal—that would not in any way shed coal dust on that white dress.
RECIPE: BRANDY ALEXANDER
Ingredients Per Drink
1-1/2 ounces brandy
1 ounce dark crème de cacao*
1 ounce half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Top: A Brandy Alexander cocktail. Photo courtesy Liquor.com. Bottom: With a rim of nutmeg and sugar. Photo | IST.
*The original Alexander recipe would have used white crème de cacao, for a snow white drink.
1. Fill a shaker halfway with ice cubes.
2. Add brandy, creme de cacao and half-and-half; shake well.
3. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with grated nutmeg. Or, rim the glass with a mixture of nutmeg and sugar.
TURN A BRANDY ALEXANDER INTO DESSERT
Add a scoop of chocolate or vanilla ice cream and serve in a globe wine goblet or other alternative to a martini glass.