The Brandy Alexander Is The Dessert Cocktail We All Need Right Now

The Brandy Alexander is the perfect creamy dessert cocktail. And let’s face it, with Halloween leading into the holidays, we’re all going to be hitting the desserts a little harder than usual. As fall goes from brisk to frosty, who wouldn’t like a creamy and lighter version of eggnog that’s super easy to shake up anytime?

For the curious-minded, the Brandy Alexander has a storied history. The original Alexander was made with gin, creme de cacao, cream, and an egg white. Over 100 years ago, bartenders started making the drink with cognac — the Alexander #2 or Brandy Alexander was born. Both were part of the cocktail boom in the late 1800s/early 1900s in New Orleans. I know, cream cocktails seem antithetical to New Orleans’ intense mugginess and heat (especially pre-air conditioning) but NOLA is famous for several very creamy cocktails from that bygone era.

Fast forward to the 1970s and L.A.’s music scene and the Brandy Alexander resurfaced with a vengeance. It was so popular that both John Lennon and his best bud Harry Nilsson were kicked out of the Troubador one night for being too blasted on Brandy Alexanders. Then the 80s hit with TGIF cocktail culture — creamy cocktails like this, the grasshopper, and various silky milk punches all faded into obscurity (outside of places like New Orleans, where they held on… barely).

As with all things in the cocktail world, creamy drinks have had a resurgence and the Brandy Alexander is back in full force — especially this time of year, as it’s an easier riff on an eggnog-like creamy cocktail that’s rich and indulgent. Let’s get shaking!

Also Read: The Top Five Cocktail Recipes of the Last Six Months

Brandy Alexander

Brandy Alexander
Zach Johnston


  • 2 oz. cognac
  • 0.75 oz. creme de cacao
  • 0.75 oz. heavy cream
  • Ice
  • Nutmeg

So when you go to the liquor store, there’s going to be two different bottles of creme de cacao on the shelf. One will be clear and one will be dark brown. Get the clear one. If you get the dark one, the drink will turn into a glass of chocolate milk. You want the creaminess of the cream to shine through with the cognac adding a light brownish hue.

When it comes to the cognac, use something in the $30-$50 range. I’m using Cognac Park VS, which is excellent for mixing cocktails as it stands up just enough to give a brandy vibe while letting the other ingredients shine.

Quick note, I accidentally grabbed half and half instead of heavy cream at the grocery store. It still works perfectly well but will create a lighter drink in the end. Ideally, you’ll want to use heavy whipping cream for the correct texture.

Brandy Alexander
Zach Johnston

What You’ll Need:

  • Coupe, Nick and Nora, or cocktail glass
  • Cocktail shaker
  • Cocktail strainer
  • Jigger
Brandy Alexander
Zach Johnston


  • Prechill the glass in the freezer.
  • Add the cognac, creme de cacao, and cream to a shaker with a handful of ice. Affix the lid and shaker vigorously for about 15 seconds (until the shaker is ice-cold to touch).
  • Strain the cocktail into the prechilled glass. Garnish with freshly ground nutmeg. Serve.

Bottom Line on the Brandy Alexander

Brandy Alexander
Zach Johnston

This is just delicious, especially if you have a sweet tooth. The vanilla and cacao shine the brightest in the drink like a liquid slice of moist chocolate cake covered in vanilla icing with a dash of nutmeg adding that tiny little bite the drink needs.

The creaminess on my drink was dialed back since I ended up using half and half instead of heavy cream. I do drink enough of these to tell you that heavy cream makes this an incredibly soft and lush cocktail with a deeply sweet vanilla-chocolate vibe that just hits right this time of year. That all said, this was a lighter version that still packed a great flavor punch and for the first time — ever, I think — I can see how John Lennon and Harry Nilsson got drunk on these so often.

It’s hard not to want another one immediately after finishing this one.