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Everyone loves a Brandy Alexander: creamy, sweet and boozy! Mix up this classy dessert drink recipe with brandy and Creme de Cacao.

Brandy Alexander

Want to whip up a Brandy Alexander? Making this creamy, boozy delight is easier than you think. Here at A Couple Cooks, we’re cocktail experts with over 300 cocktail recipes under our belt. But this sophisticated cocktail wasn’t on our radar until we started mixing up dessert drinks along with our regular fare. The Alexander is equal parts creamy, intriguing, and delicious: a mix of Cognac with cocoa liqueur. It’s almost like a grown-up, more balanced version of the White Russian.

Ingredients in a Brandy Alexander

The Brandy Alexander is a dessert cocktail made with equal parts brandy, creme de cacao liqueur, and heavy cream. The first printed recipe for an Alexander was in a 1916 cocktail book, The History of Mixed Drinks by Hugo Ensslin.

The original recipe used gin instead of brandy. Over time, brandy or Cognac became the liquor of choice. It’s now on the list of the International Bartender Association’s IBA official cocktails, meaning that it has an “official” definition. The modern Brandy Alexander recipe is equal parts:

  • Cognac (or other brandy)
  • White creme de cacao
  • Heavy cream

Frozen variation

You can also make a frozen Brandy Alexander with ice cream! Simply substitute 2 scoops vanilla ice cream for the heavy cream and blending it in a blender. This is a traditional variation on sweet drinks like the Grasshopper and Mudslide as well. We prefer the traditional cocktail shaker version.

Brandy Alexander

Why is it called Brandy Alexander?

The exact origin of the Brandy Alexander is unknown. One popular theory is that it was invented by bartender Troy Alexander at a New York City restaurant in the early 1900s. He reportedly created a special white drink to honor of Phoebe Snow, a fictional marketing campaign character invented to promote a clean burning type of coal used in train travel. Her white dress inspired the creamy white look of the drink.

What’s creme de cacao?

Creme de cacao is famous for its use in the Grasshopper and Brandy Alexander cocktails. Despite it’s name, there’s no cream in it at all! Here’s a little more about this specialty liquor:

  • Creme de cacao is a cocoa bean flavored liqueur, available in both white (clear) and dark varieties. It’s possibly one of the first alcoholic beverages, made in the 1600’s by monks after cocoa beans were brought back to Europe from America (source).
  • What does it taste like? Creme de cacao tastes like milk chocolate with notes of vanilla.
  • How much does creme de cacao cost? It costs between $10 to $20 for a 750 ml bottle.
  • Is it worth buying? Yes, if you like dessert cocktails! Use it to make creme de cacao cocktails like the Chocolate Martini, Grasshopper or Bushwacker.
Creme de cacao

More about Cognac

You can use any type of brandy in a Brandy Alexander recipe: but the top of the line is Cognac! Cognac is a type of French brandy, a liquor made from distilling wine. There are several grades of Cognac that designate how long it’s been aged:

  • VS or 3 stars (2 years)
  • VSOP (4 years)
  • Napoléon (6 years)
  • XO (10 years)

Bottles of XO can be upwards of $200! No need to go that high-end, of course. You can use a mid-priced VS or VSOP Cognac for this cocktail. 

How to make a Brandy Alexander (basic steps)

Once you’ve got Brandy Alexander ingredients, it’s simple to make this equal parts cocktail. Simply shake it up in a cocktail shaker and strain it into a cocktail glass.

  1. Place 1 ½ ounces each of Cognac, creme de cacao and heavy cream in a cocktail shaker. Add a handful of ice and shake until cold.
  2. Strain the drink into a stemmed cocktail glass.
  3. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg, which adds a warm-spiced flavor to the drink.

Let us know what you think of this Brandy Alexander recipe and what occasion you serve it for. It’s one of our favorite creamy dessert cocktails.

Brandy Alexander recipe

The inspiration for the Brandy Alexander may go back much further than 1916: it’s possibly related to a drink from the 1680’s: Milk Punch. Milk punch is made with brandy or bourbon, milk, sugar, and vanilla extract. The drink was first written down in 1688 in Scotland, and the first mention in a cookbook was in 1711. It’s even traditionally garnished with grated nutmeg!

The combination of dairy with Cognac and flavors of vanilla and chocolate can’t be disputed here. Milk Punch is a traditional New Orleans drink, so it’s possible that the inventor of the Brandy Alexander took inspiration from sipping on that cool creamy beverage.

More brandy cocktails

Want more with brandy or Cognac? Here are a few brandy cocktails that are full of flavor:

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Brandy Alexander

Brandy Alexander


  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x

Description

Everyone loves a Brandy Alexander: creamy, sweet and boozy! Mix up this classy dessert drink recipe with brandy and Creme de Cacao. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 ½ ounces* Cognac (or other brandy)
  • 1 ½ ounces white Creme de Cacao
  • 1 ½ ounces heavy cream or half and half
  • For the garnish: grated fresh nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Add the ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Add 2 handfuls of ice and shake until cold, about 15 seconds. 
  2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Top with grated fresh nutmeg and serve. 

Notes

*1 ½ ounces = 3 tablespoons

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Shaken
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Brandy Alexander, Brandy Alexander recipe, Brandy Alexander drink

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you’ll want to make again and again.

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