If you like a Mudslide or a White Russian, you’ll love a Brandy Alexander! The Brandy Alexander doesn’t get as much publicity as its cousin the White Russian, but while it’s just as delicious, it’s much more sophisticated and complex.
Made with brandy, crème de cacao, and heavy cream, a Brandy Alexander is alcoholic and indulgent, creamy without being cloying, decadent but not overwhelming—like a boozy dessert-in-a-glass. It’s perfect for a holiday party or a treat on a quiet night at home, and it’s so easy to make that it may become one of your go-to drinks.
THE HISTORY OF THE BRANDY ALEXANDER
The Brandy Alexander first appeared in print in The Savoy Cocktail Book, published in 1930. The author called it the Alexander Cocktail No. 2, since there was already an Alexander cocktail that contained the same ingredients, but with gin as a base.
Over time, the brandy-based Alexander has become more popular, but I can vouch that although it sounds a little bizarre, the gin version is also quite delicious. (Give it a try!)
WHAT IS CRÈME DE CACAO?
Crème de cacao is a chocolate liqueur. It comes in both dark (brown) and light (clear) varieties. Some recipes specify the dark variety, although it’s usually equally acceptable to use either one since it doesn’t affect the flavor of the drink, only the color. (Drinks made with crème de cacao can range from very light brown to a more pronounced caramel color.)
I used a light crème de cacao to make this drink. Giffard and Marie Brizard both make very nice versions. If you have the choice, it’s worth it to spend a little extra on a higher quality liqueur.
WHAT KIND OF BRANDY TO USE
Brandy, if you’re unfamiliar, is a liquor made from grapes. It’s produced by distilling wine. Cognac is the name for brandy that’s produced in the Cognac region of France, which means that Cognac is to brandy as Champagne is to sparkling wine.
I’ve seen recipes that call for cognac here, but I think a nice mid-range brandy works perfectly well. I used Korbel, which is a California brandy. E & J is also a good choice.
A NOTE ON THE PROPORTIONS FOR A BRANDY ALEXANDER
While everyone agrees that a Brandy Alexander should contain brandy, crème de cacao, and cream, recipes differ on the proportions.
- Equal parts of each (a 1:1:1 ratio) will give you a drink that’s creamy and smooth, almost like a boozy ice cream.
- Double the amount of brandy in proportion to the other ingredients (a 2:1:1: ratio) and you’ll have a drink that’s much more spirit-forward. This is a good option if you happen to be using a particularly nice brandy.
My personal favorite is 1 1/2 ounces of brandy paired with 1 ounce of each of the other ingredients. This is also a good place to start if you’re not sure if you want a creamier or a boozier drink.
OTHER WINTRY COCKTAILS TO ENJOY THIS SEASON
- Coconut White Russian
- Orange and Vanilla Hot Buttered Rum
- Coquito (Puerto Rican Coconut Eggnog)
- 1 1/2 ounces brandy or Cognac
- 1 ounce crème de cacao
- 1 ounce heavy cream
- Grated nutmeg, preferably fresh