I feel like since we moved to New York, our knowledge of mixology has grown exponentially, but at the time we were neophytes. Let me put it this way: Back then, the most interesting thing in our liquor cabinet was hypnotiq. It's fruity and turns your drink blue. So Heather set out on her task. Every time we went out to a bar, she would ask for a brandy alexander. We soon found out that many bartenders either don't know how to make one, don't have the ingredients, or both. It was getting a little frustrating.
I know what you must be thinking. At this point, couldn't we have just looked up the ingredients, bought them and mixed it ourselves. I should tell you that moving to New York--one of the most expensive cities in the United States--is a money draining undertaking. We were feeling like a couple of miserly broke-asses so at the very least, I was unwilling to blow money on liquors and liqueurs that we didn't even know if we liked. You might then ask why we were going out to various bars and such. Well, considering we were hanging out at establishments that can't make fancy drinks like brandy alexanders, we weren't running up astronomical tabs. I digress.
Cut to Restaurant Week (Heather's favorite time of the year): Winter '08. Heather scores reservations at a place called Osteria del Circo, an Italian circus themed place. We enjoy a lovely dinner and afterwards decide to check out the bar area. I order a scotch and Heather once again asks for a brandy alexander and braces for heartbreak. The bartender nods and gets cracking. Success. Heather takes a taste and is very pleased. It's a sweet, creamy, chocolatey delight that is not entirely unsophisticated. Heather enjoyed it to the last drop.
As we moved from completely broke to just bohemianly poor, we started finding out and amassing the ingredients in our attempt to recreate the drink. We settled on a cognac--Courvoisier-- for our brandy. The rest of the ingredients were easy. A basic creme de cacao runs about ten to twelve dollars and will last a very long time; as for the cream, we already keep half and half in the fridge for our coffee. The recipe calls for heavy cream but I think half and half works just as well, and when I don't use heavy cream in a drink Heather spends less time following me around with the calorie information and talking about expanding waistlines. It's win win.
-1 1/2 oz brandy
-1 oz creme de cacao
-1 oz half and half (heavy cream if desired)
Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass and add chocolate shavings for garnish.
And voila. A nice sweet cocktail to chase away the winter blues. An added bonus is that if you get good at making this drink, you will know something that many New York bartenders don't.