Brandy Alexander

published Nov 22, 2023
Brandy Alexander Recipe

Intensely dark crème de cacao and the smoky flavor of brandy make this cocktail great for the holidays.

Serves1

Prep5 minutes

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Head on shot of a coupe glass of brandy alexander, on a white marble surface, and nutmeg shavings around it.
Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: James Park

If you were put on the spot, the first brandy cocktail you could think of is probably a Brandy Alexander. Here’s a theory for why this might be: For starters, it’s in the name, which gives you an idea of what it tastes like, and secondly, it’s one of those old-fashioned cocktails that sparks an interesting conversation.

The conversation in question has to do with the fact that brandy and Cognac aren’t the same thing, even though they’re often talked about interchangeably. Most Brandy Alexander recipes call for Cognac (the uber popular French variety), though you can make the classic drink with any type of brandy, whether Cognac, Armagnac, or a California brandy, such as Germain-Robin or Argonaut.

Something that’s also worth mentioning about the Brandy Alexander is that, by nature, its flavor and texture makes it perfect for drinking around the holidays and during colder months. Though it’s still served cold, the classic cocktail combines the richness of cream and crème de cacao with the warm flavor of nutmeg.

That said, you don’t have to wait for it to get super cold (or even live in a cold climate!) to enjoy a Brandy Alexander. In other words, it’s nice to have a reliable recipe that you can count on at any time of year.

Credit: Photo: Alex Lepe ; Food Stylist: James Park

What Is a Brandy Alexander?

A Brandy Alexander is a traditional brandy cocktail that consists of brandy (typically Cognac), either white or dark crème de cacao, cream, and a sprinkle of nutmeg. The Brandy Alexander is a variation on the Alexander cocktail, which was believed to be created by pre-Prohibition New York City bartender Troy Alexander, according to Liquor.com. The original Alexander cocktail consisted of gin rather than brandy and included egg whites, according to online cocktail site, Difford’s Guide.

Ingredients in a Brandy Alexander Cocktail

  • Brandy: This is most commonly in the form of Cognac, a particular variety of French brandy that’s extremely popular throughout the U.S. and Europe. You can use Cognac or other types of brandy such as Calvados, Armagnac, or California brandy.
  • Crème de cacao liqueur: A cocoa-flavored liqueur that’s available in both white and dark varieties. For this recipe, go with one that’s dark. This is different from crème de cacao syrup, which typically isn’t alcoholic like a liqueur. 
  • Cream: Adds richness and creaminess to the drink. In this case, you can use heavy cream or half-and-half.
  • Nutmeg: Freshly grated over the top as a garnish. This element not only makes the drink look super festive, but also adds a powerfully warm flavor.

Brandy Alexander Recipe

Intensely dark crème de cacao and the smoky flavor of brandy make this cocktail great for the holidays.

Prep time 5 minutes

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 ounces

    Cognac or other type of brandy

  • 1 ounce

    dark crème de cacao liqueur, such as DeKuyper (not crème de cacao syrup)

  • 1 ounce

    cold heavy cream

  • Ice

  • Freshly grated nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Place a 5 ounce or larger coupe or cocktail glass in the refrigerator or freezer to chill.

  2. Place 1 1/4 ounces Cognac, 1 ounce dark crème de cacao liqueur, and 1 ounce cold heavy cream in a cocktail shaker. Add enough ice to fill the shaker halfway full. Seal the shaker and shake until the outside of the shaker is very cold and frosty, about 30 seconds.

  3. Pour through a strainer into the glass. Finely grate nutmeg over the surface.