Monday, April 18, 2011

Achetez-moi Un Verre?


For something that looks and sounds like a fussy-fuserton, the Brandy Alexander is a pretty simple drink. Like most beverages, the Brandy Alexander is part of a family of drinks. The original is The Alexander, a gin-based cocktail - same ingredients, just a different liquor. Then there is the Panama, which uses brandy and white creme de cacao, instead of brown. Beyond that, there are variations on the recipe (I'll talk about those later).

The drink was born in the early 20th century, possibly at a royal wedding. The longest running story is that the cocktail was created at the wedding of Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood and Viscount Lascelles in London, 1922. All this means is that you're just going to have to hold out your pinky when you drink it.

As with most old school sweet drinks (panty peelers!), the Brandy Alexander found a resurgence in the mid-century and early 1960's. It's an easy drink to knock back and not even realize it's actually your third. Most importantly, it's even easier to make.

The Brandy Alexander
one part Cognac (or any brandy)
one part brown Creme de cacao
one part Half-and-Half or heavy cream (heavy cream, please!)

Shake together in a mixer half filled with ice cubes. Strain into a glass and garnish with nutmeg. Make sure the glass is chilled, duh.

The nutmeg garnish is actually my favorite part. I like nutmeg, so I say the more the merrier. You can dust the drink with grated nutmeg; get a rasp or microplane and grate a fresh nutmeg over the beverage. Really try to use fresh nutmeg here - it makes all the difference. Most grocery stores sell fresh nutmeg in the baking isle and  the container it comes in has quite a bit. It's a good value, especially since you can use nutmeg in all sorts of baking and cooking.
If you want to get fancy, dip the rim of your cocktail glass in some brandy and then dip it in fresh grated nutmeg. Looks wicked cool.

When it comes to variations, there are some stand outs. A Coffee Alexander substitutes coffee liqueur for the gin (which, by the way, is my absolute favorite booze). Blue Alexander's switch blue Curacao for creme de cacao. It's fun but not necessary. You do whatever you want; my philosophy with drinking boils down to: what a man (or woman!) does with his/her drink is between him/her and God.

As I mentioned in the last cocktail post, this is Peggy's favorite drink (though last season she was drinking straight from the hip - Don's protege for sure). It speaks of her: sweet-looking but packs a punch. Panty peeler, yes. Girly drink? Not even close.

"My name is Peggy Olson and I would like to smoke some marijuana"

Next installment, we deal with a classic!

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