While John Lennon’s favorite cocktail may have been the Brandy Alexander, the most commonly known Alexander was originally made with equal parts gin, white crème de cacao, and sweet cream; shaken with ice, and strained. Today, either Alexander variety is acceptable, whether it’s made with brandy or gin, and is most commonly enjoyed as a dessert cocktail.
There are multiple theories on the origins and naming of the Alexander. Historian Barry Popiklinks the cocktail to a Philadelphia Inquirer article about the 1915 World Series between Boston and Philadelphia. The article suggests that a bartender created the cocktail to honor Philadelphia pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander–though Boston ultimately beat Philadelphia for the World Series title.
Another bit of lore suggests that the Alexander was created by Troy Alexander, a pre-Prohibition bartender from the lobster restaurant Rector’s in New York City. He named the cocktail in honor of Phoebe Snow, a fictitious character in an advertising campaign for the DL&W railway’s change to clean burning anthracite to fuel its locomotives. Phoebe wore a white dress to contrast to how travelers emerged soot covered from coal burning trains.
- 1 ½ fluid ounces of gin or brandy
- ¾ oz white creme de cacao for gin, dark creme de cacao for brandy
- ¾ oz Half and Half
- ⅓ oz egg white
Mix the above ingredients and add ice. Vigorously shake all ingredients together. Strain into a container without the ice and shake again. Strain into glass. Dust with grated nutmeg. Serve straight up, chilled, without ice.
Shaking is key and do not omit the egg white – it gives it the frothiness. Even if you are making multiple drinks, stick to only one egg white.
- Without an egg, the cocktail becomes a Princess Mary.
- The Brandy Alexander uses Cognac, a French brandy from–you guessed it–Cognac, instead of gin.The Coffee Alexander uses a coffee liqueur such as Kahlua in place of crème de cacao.
- The Blue Alexander replaces the creme de cacao with Blue Curaçao.