Celebrate the Mysterious History of the Brandy Alexander

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Cocktail origins make for great stories, mostly because they’re rife with myth, rumor and innuendo. The Brandy Alexander—which we celebrate nationally on January 31—is no exception.

One plausible story claims this cocktail was named for Russian tsar Alexander II of the House of Romanov. The Brandy Alexander also could have been created for the first time in 1922 at the wedding of Henry George Charles Lascelles, 6th Earl of Harewood, and Princess Victoria Alexandra Alice Mary, daughter of King George V and Queen Mary. Or perhaps the claim by Algonquin Round Table member, critic Alexander Woollcott, that the drink was named for him is true. Beatles fans will be quick to note that the Brandy Alexander was John Lennon’s favorite cocktail.

Of course, the Brandy Alexander could be named for a person I believe is its most likely creator. Troy Alexander purportedly came up with the drink while working as a bartender at famed New York City restaurant Rector’s. Operating from 1899 to 1919, Rector’s boasted the first revolving front door in New York and was a high-society haunt for NYC’s nouveau riche. Given Rector’s history and importance to our industry, it’s not difficult to believe that Troy Alexander created the Brandy Alexander.

That said, it’s important for you to know that the Brandy Alexander is itself a riff on another cocktail, the gin-based Alexander. With that in mind, you’ll find recipes below for gin, vodka and bourbon Alexanders. You can also make them with rum and coffee liqueurs, so get creative for National Brandy Alexander Day.

Cheers!

Martin Miller's Gin Alexander cocktail - The Mysterious History of the Brandy Alexander

Alexander

Recipe and image courtesy Martin Miller’s Gin

  • 40ml Martin Miller's Gin
  • 20ml Crème de cacao blanc (such as Briottet or Giffard)
  • 20ml Cream
  • Ground nutmeg to garnish

Shake and strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with ground nutmeg.

 

Absolut Vodka Vanilla Alexander cocktail - The Mysterious History of the Brandy Alexander

Absolut Vanilla Alexander

Recipe and image courtesy of Absolut Vodka

  • ¾ part Absolut Vanilia
  • ¾ part Dark cacao liqueur (such as Bols or DeKuyper)
  • ¾ Part Cream
  • Powder nutmeg to garnish

Fill a shaker with ice cubes. Add all ingredients. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with nutmeg.

 

Absolut Vodka Red Star Alexander cocktail - The Mysterious History of the Brandy Alexander

Red Star Alexander

Recipe and image courtesy of Absolut Vodka

  • ⅔ part Absolut Vodka
  • ⅓ part Cream
  • ⅔ part Dark cacao liqueur
  • ⅔ part Kahlúa
  • Powder nutmeg to garnish

Fill a shaker with ice cubes. Add all ingredients. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with nutmeg.

 

Old Forester Bourbon Alexander cocktail - The Mysterious History of the Brandy Alexander

Bourbon Alexander

Recipe and image of Old Forester

Combine all ingredients in shaker tin. Shake vigorously with ice. Strain into coupe glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

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