Happy National Brandy Alexander Day!
Brandy Alexanders are a delicious dessert style cocktail made with equal parts cognac, crème de cacao and cream. Served in a Martini glass or on the rocks it's a dessert drink that really hits the spot. Yum!
As with a lot of cocktail recipes, there are several claims to the origin story. Some say it was created to celebrate the marriage of Princess Mary and Viscount Lascelles back in 1922. It sounds plausible. An Alexander Woollcott who was a drama critic and member of the Algonquin Round Table (a New York based literary group) believes it was named after him. And, there are others who believe it was named after a Russian Tsar, Alexander II who was also known as 'Alexander, the Liberator'. There is also a story of a Troy Alexander who was a bartender in New York Restaurant Rector's who allegedly created the drink at an event.
This issue with origin stories is a common problem in drinks writing. Thank goodness we're writing all these things down nowadays!
Brandy Alexander's are simple to make and they taste delicious. Two ingredients of being very easy drinking, John Lennon himself had a night on them and got a little carried away, as apparently they tasted like 'milkshakes'. As a result, there is a story of him being thrown out of the Troubadour, a legendary club based in West Hollywood that was a starting point for many musical greats.
So a Brandy Alexander is made with Cognac. Aren't Brandy and Cognac two different drinks? Well, in essence they are the same in that they are both liquors made with wine. Cognac is actually a subcategory of Brandy, so all Cognac is Brandy, but not all Brandy is Cognac. The difference in the name comes down to the area of production. To be a Cognac, much like Champagne, the drink has to be made in Cognac, to be called Cognac. Cognac is located in the West of France, inbetween Bordeaux and La Rochelle.
So why isn't it called a Cognac Alexander? It's odd, as you'll see in some instances it is...though there's no discernible difference in the recipe. Maybe a Brandy Alexander could include Brandy's that aren't Cognacs if absolutely necessary. All I know is that whatever you call it, I'd like another one please.
Image care of: By Will Shenton - https://bevvy.co/cocktail/brandy-alexander/yrsy, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53162828