The Brandy Alexander is sometimes referred to as an Alexander No. 2, which makes one wonder if there is an Alexander or an Alexander No. 1. And if so, how come we have never heard of it? Turns out there is an Alexander cocktail that has been largely lost to history—buried by its own shiny offspring like the Corpse Reviver #1 cocktail or the first Evil Dead movie. The original Alexander cocktail used gin—gin, dark crème de cacao, and cream—before getting kicked to the curb by its highfalutin, cognac-using progeny, the Brandy Alexander.
But we are not making the Alexander today. We are making the Alexandra, which is made with gin, dark crème de cacao, and cream—wait, that sounds exactly like the Alexander! What is this? Is this the same drink? Some digging around leads us to Simon Difford’s nice history of the Alexander, which links to a 1937 text called New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘em. Here there is a drink called the Alexandre, and for a moment I wonder if that’s how the Alexander became the Alexandre became the Alexandra, one letter at a time.
But no, this How to Mix ’em recipe adds egg white so it’s a different drink completely. And they address their creative “Frenchy” spelling: “If you have trouble with its pronunciation, simply hold your nose tight between thumb and forefinger. But, should you mischance pronounce it Alexander—it will taste just the same, And the taste is simply de-lovely.”
I don’t know what to believe anymore. My life is a lie. Either this is cocktail is just a misspelling that made it past the copy editor or the Alexandra is another historical example of a pioneering woman doing great work and getting none of the accolades.
1 oz. cream
1 oz. gin (Distillery 209)
1 oz. dark crème de cacao (Tempus Fugit)
Shake with ice and pour slowly.
Brian: “Pour slowly.” What’s that all about?
Eric: You know we have to pour it fast now. To see what happens.
Brian: As fast as possible.
Eric: What could go wrong?
We discuss which gin will work the best in this cocktail and decide that something a little less ginny might be in order. Brian digs out a small bottle of San Francisco based Distillery 209’s gin. Even though this modern New American gin is probably not historically accurate in this cocktail—it should be a London dry—we have high hopes for it. And in the end we do pour slowly, actually.
Eric: Wow, this one looks respectable. This one looks good!
Brian: (drinks) It is good. That was right of us to not choose an overpowering gin. If I were to use Hendricks or that Two James that I have in there it would have been way too floral.
Eric: (drinks) It’s delicious.
Brian: It’s great. Next time maybe we should end the day with cream drinks to coat everything that came before it.
Eric: Are you tasting the gin or is it buried in there?
Brian: I’m not getting any juniper or anything.
Eric: Hmm, then maybe we should have gone with something a little more forward. This is very desserty. It’s evocative of a white Russian in a way, but even dessertier for me because of the heavy cream and the crème de cacao.
Brian: This was one of John Lennon’s favorite drinks apparently. Because it reminded him of a milkshake!
Eric: The powerful Brandy Alexander lobby would have you believe that you can make music like the Beatles if you drink enough of these.
Brian: I’d say this is a solid 7.
Eric: Wait, are you ranking each drink as it compares to others or to the idealized form of itself? What is Plato’s idealized form of a cream and coffee or cocoa and neutral spirit drink? Because if you look at it in that context, it’s an 8.
SCORES: Brian 7, Eric 7.5, Plato 8
At long last, a good cocktail. Sweet as your last kiss. Thank God for little miracles! I can go on with life now.