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Alexander No. 1 (Brandy), Cocktail #3

🏠 » Swank Cocktail Guide: 80 cocktails in 80 days

Brandy Alexander

Alexander No. 1 is cocktail number three on the Swank Cocktail Guide. The Swank Cocktail Guide actually contains three Alexander cocktail recipes: Alexander No. 1 contains brandy and Alexander No. 2 and Alexander’s Sister include gin.

Alexander Cocktail History

"Walter Winchell Column, Alexander Cocktail," newspaper article, The Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio), 21 Mar 1929, p. 35, col. 1.
“Walter Winchell Column, Alexander Cocktail,” newspaper article, The Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio), 21 Mar 1929, p. 35, col. 1. (Click article to enlarge)

Many attribute the Alexander Cocktail to being invented around 1910 by Troy Alexander, a bartender at Rector’s in New York City.

In 1929, a reader named Felix wrote to Walter Winchell about the Alexander Cocktail and Winchell featured the response in his column, which ran coast to coast. Felix stated:

“Some years ago, during the period when ‘Phoebe Snow” was being featured in the Lackawanna railroad advertising, the officials of the company arranged for a dinner at Rector’s. Troy Alexander was then associated with the famous place, and to him fell the assignment of planning the dinner in a big way.

He decided to follow the ‘Phoebe Snow’ idea in which white was the predominating note. After getting the dinner pretty well laid out, Alexander found himself stuck when it came to concocting a white drink with a lot more potency than milk. For several days he experimented, and finally hit upon the cocktail that bears his name, and which in case you do not know, may now be had in every country in the world where a mixed drink is available, including, of course, America.”

Phoebe Snow, Lackawanna Railroad
Phoebe Snow, Lackawanna Railroad

If the above account of the origin is accurate, the original Alexander Cocktail was most likely the gin version (Swank Guide number 4, Alexander No. 2), as the brandy turns the drink a bit of a light caramel color.

"Walter Winchell Column, Alexander Cocktail," newspaper article, Reading Times (Reading, Pennsylvania), 16 Apr 1934, p. 4, col. 2.
“Walter Winchell Column, Alexander Cocktail,” newspaper article, Reading Times (Reading, Pennsylvania), 16 Apr 1934, p. 4, col. 2.

Evidently the high caloric count of the drink was packing pounds on the drinkers (but oddly only on the women), as Winchell published about the Alexander Cocktail again in 1934, warning the ladies to not drink it “because the cream in them naturally encourages tonnage.”

So, when did the Alexander Cocktail begin using Brandy as an alternative to gin? Perhaps around the mid-1930, as a newspaper article in 1937 about the high cost of the cocktail references brandy.

"Wise Tipplers Can Ruin Bar," Alexander Cocktail Recipe with Brandy newspaper article, The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 20 Aug 1937, p. 15, col. 6.
“Wise Tipplers Can Ruin Bar,” Alexander Cocktail Recipe with Brandy newspaper article, The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 20 Aug 1937, p. 15, col. 6.

Alexander No. 1 (brandy) cocktail recipe

Cocktail #3, Alexander No. 1 (brandy) cocktail recipe

1/3 Brandy, 1/3 Creme de Cacao, 1/3 Cream. Shake with ice and strain into glass.

Ingredients used:

  • E & J Brandy
  • Hiram Walker Creme de Cacao
  • Light Cream

Alexander No. 1 cocktail review

Our ratings (1-5 🍸) Rating scale

Greg: 🍸🍸🍸🍸🍸
Kim: 🍸🍸🍸🍸🍸

The Brandy Alexander is a delicious, chocolaty after-dinner drink that’s easy to make and easy to drink.

Next up…Cocktail #4, the Gin Alexander

Swank Cocktail Guide: 80 cocktails in 80 days

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