Brandy Alexander Cocktail

DrinkHolidayBrandyCocktail

The boozy Brandy Alexander is made with brandy, crème de cacao, heavy cream, and topped with freshly-grated nutmeg. It's a decadent and delicious wintry cocktail, and a good choice for a holiday party.

Photography Credit: Nancy Mitchell

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.

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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!)

Nutmeg on brandy alexander cocktail

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 

Brandy Alexander Cocktail Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cocktail

A little freshly-grated nutmeg dusted over the top of this drink really helps to take things to the next level.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces brandy or Cognac
  • 1 ounce crème de cacao
  • 1 ounce heavy cream
  • Ice
  • Grated nutmeg, preferably fresh

Method

1 Make the cocktail: Add liquid ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Add ice, shake for about 30 seconds, and then strain into a cocktail glass. Double strain using a tea strainer, or a fine cocktail strainer if you're picky about having bits of ice in your cocktail.

Grate fresh nutmeg over the top and enjoy.

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Nancy Mitchell

Nancy is a writer and photographer living in New York. She makes drinks with local and homegrown ingredients and writes about the New York cocktail scene on her Instagram feed and at her blog, The Backyard Bartender.

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4 Comments / Reviews

No ImageBrandy Alexander Cocktail

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Duane

    I think you are missing out on the greatest Brandy Alexander of them all!. The frozen Brandy Alexander!! Yea, woot woot.
    I prefer making my own vanilla ice cream I use the same mix ratio (1.5x1x1) I bet your thinking he’s using ice cream what’s the ingredient in the ratio? If you were thinking Bailey’s Irish Cream. Bravo Bravo, mix the booze and ice cream in a 20-24 ounce glass with a hand blender. I prefer to place in the freezer to firm up mimicking a malt, perfect for year round enjoyment.
    I hope you give my Brandy Alexander style a try.
    The Fossil
    Duane Meissner

    Show Replies (1)
  2. DAC

    My holiday favorite dessert cocktail. My dad made them every year. So festive in my great aunt’s crystal coupes.

  3. Barb

    This brings back fond memories of my dad. He would make a batch of these every major holiday for me and my mom. He used gin though instead of brandy. I carry on that tradition. I do use the shaker method, he used to put it all in a blender. Ha. If I am feeling fancy I will do a sugar rim on the glass. Pretty and yum. Merry Christmas!

brandy and heavy cream cocktail with grated nutmegBrandy Alexander Cocktail