Don’t know what a Brandy Alexander is? Well, to be honest – I also wasn’t 100% sure, so it was great to get the opportunity to learn a little more!
Well, there are numerous references to this creamy cocktail in pop culture – from being ordered by Raj in The Big Bang Theory, to references in Mad Men, to a mention in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Mother Night”. In the first episode of “Cheers” (showing my age here) it was the first drink Carla was asked to make and it was also John Lennon’s favourite drink (of course he referred to it as his ‘milkshake’). Imagine that!
(Image found on the internet – of course I wasn’t there 😛 Not sure who to credit, my best investigation skills failed me. But, point is – it is John Lennon – with a table full of Brandy Alexanders).
There are loads of theories of who came up with this cocktail – when it was first made in the early 1900’s. Initially the main ingredient was gin (simply called the “Alexander”). Some say it was named after Tsar Alexander II, the drama critic Alexander Woollcott also laid claim to the name and then – the most obvious, the bartender Troy Alexander, who also had a finger in the pie – so no one is really sure.
As it became more popular in the 20th Century, gin was pimped up with brandy and voila – Brandy Alexander!
So, history lesson over – but it is quite interesting don’t you think? So that is why Brandy Alexander has got it’s very own day – the 31st of January. Recipe to follow, so there’s still enough time to rush out to get the ingredients to make your own!
We were invited to The Landmark Bar in Bryanston to get some first-hand experience and knowledge on this historical cocktail. I’ve visited it before, it is right next door (sharing premises) with the fabulous Café Del Sol Botanico, it can definitely stand it’s own ground.
I always get the feeling that it is a comfortable lounge bar (leather couches, yay), with a bit of quirky steampunk juuuuust beneath the surface.
At first Bar Manager, George Hunter, introduced us to Brandy cocktails by whipping up some Sazeracs. Van Rhyn’s 10 year old brandy, bourbon, sugar, bitters and wait for it – a whiff of Absinth. Poured over a giant block of ice, this was really quite an easy sipping cocktail.
But we were there for the Brandy Alexanders! Some peeps in our group were invited to step behind the bar and try making these decadent little cocktails themselves – very successfully!
Here’s the recipe to share:
“1 parts crème de cacao (alternatively use any good chocolate liqueur such as Klipdrift Black Gold)
1 parts cream
1 part Van Ryn’s 10 year old brandy
Add all the liquid ingredients to a cocktail shaker, fill the shaker halfway with ice cubes and shake for about 30 seconds or until the outside of the shaker is getting nicely frosted. Strain into a glass, traditionally a cocktail glass or martini glass which, ideally, you’ve been chilling in the freezer. Garnish with a sprinkle of nutmeg and your Brandy Alexander is ready to go!
And a great tip we got (as if this can get any better!) – add a scoop of vanilla or chocolate ice cream and transfer to a bowl! Delicious indeed!
We had a great time, thanks everyone! And cheers to Brandy Alexander Day!