Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Brandy Alexander--Always Gets Me Into Trouble

A few years ago, Heather bought a Feist album and it contained a song called "Brandy Alexander." It's a mellow little slow jam that has kind of a groovy feel. Heather liked the song so much that she became fixated on getting a brandy alexander. She would wake up in the morning and want a brandy alexander for breakfast. When I told her that cereal would be better, she asked if she could pour a brandy alexander over it instead of milk. She would speak of a perfect world--one with no wars, no hunger and brandy alexanders as far as the eye can see. I found her speech idealistic and psychotic. Kind of like Glenn Beck. I wanted to give her the cocktail. The problem was that neither of us knew what it was. I deduced that it was some sort of brandy concoction crafted by a man named Alexander.
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.

Brandy Alexander
-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.


zencefil said...

This drink looks great!

pTsaldari said...

Getting into trouble is well worth the rewards of a great Brandy Alexander!

Thank you for sharing. Well done.
Cheers, PT

Remember to visit me @

bonnie said...

This drink looks awesome, thanks for sharing!!

Claudia said...

Breing older, I can say that that is a blast from my past! Fond memories! Grand vintage drink! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Half the fun of the drink is the trouble!

shaogo said...

We make a brandy alexander with half creme de cocoa and half Tuaca liqueur (vanilla with a little orange) instead of only creme de cocoa.

It's the kind of drink that, when someone orders it at the bar, a few others follow suit.

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