Alexander – David Embury

1 part sweet cream

1 part crème de cacao

4 parts gin

Shake with cracked ice,

The above is a modified Alexander that can be consumed with reasonable safety before a meal, although why anyone should take it if dry cocktails are available, I wouldn’t know. Reference has been made several times to the original Alexander consisting of equal parts of the three ingredients – a nice mid-afternoon snack in place of half a pound of bon-bon’s, but deadly as a pre-prandial drink. If brandy is substituted for the gin this drink becomes the Brandy Alexander or Panama. If made with gin and cognac, half and half, it is known in Paris as La Negresse Blonde.

Today is apparently Brandy Alexander day, so I thought this would be appropriate. The above passage from Embury is classic grumpiness, and one reason why I love his book. Asking professor Wiki about the drink they attribute it to a bartender at rectors in New York, last name Alexander (surprise) who created the drink at a dinner celebrating Phoebe Snow, a character in an advertising campaign. Their recipe is the equal parts version, and uses the brown version of the crème de cacao and nutmeg grated on top.

Phoebe Snow was advertising a railway that used a cleaner burning coal, so peoples clothes wouldn’t get covered in soot, she was always pictured sitting or standing outside a carriage dressed in a snow white dress. Amusingly if you use their recipe the drink comes out a muddy brown colour. Phoebe would not have been pleased.

We decided to use Embury’s recipes, and do a cocktail off with a Alexander versus a Panama, with the brown crème de cacao, and he is very right. Embury’s version where the cream is just a small part is much better, you can taste the spirits clearly, and after you don’t feel like you’ve just finished a small meal. The gin based Alexander was light, and almost a little fresh tasting, the Panama was rich, with the cognac flavour to the front. We were split equally on which we preferred, these versions of the classic drinks are far better than others I’ve tried, I might even be able to enjoy one again in the future.