The Story Behind The Brandy Alexander
The Brandy Alexander, also known as Alexander #2, is an evolution of the original Alexander, a drink that called for a mix of gin, crème de cacao, and cream. The original is thought to have existed in the early 20th century, as it was initially published in 1916 in the book, Recipes for Mixed Drinks.
Post-Prohibition in the 1930s, brandy came back into vogue as the favored spirit for the Alexander cocktail as it was once again available, reliable, and of quality, and thus the cocktail as we know it was born. It is commonly served as an after-dinner cocktail as it is rich, sweet, and practically dessert in a glass with its chocolate, dried-fruit profile balanced with cream. As soon as the cold weather hits, this cocktail and its many variations begin to appear on bar menus around the world.
What Type Of Cream
Well leave this one to your personal taste but a single cream also called light cream or non-whipping cream is what weve used and found works best. If you really want a creamy, more deserty finish then you could try double cream, or even finishing the drink with a creamy top layer before adding the nutmeg.
Is It Possible To Make This Cocktail Dairy
Yes, you can make the Brandy Alexander with dairy-free cream options.
But keep in mind that the cocktail will drastically change. Dairy-free cream substitutes tend to have a very different flavor than regular cream.
However, weve also got great results with this Brandy Alexander recipe when we used coconut milk. So dont be afraid to try different options!
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The 15 Best Brandy And Cognac Brands To Try In 2022
A snifter glass filled with a beautifully complex and delicious brandy has long been associated with luxury and decadence, however, the spirit offers plenty across all price points.
Brandy is a spirit of distilled wine or fermented fruit juice but usually refers to grape juice. Other mash recipes reference the fruit that theyve been made from, such as peach, apricot, or apple brandy.
The most recognizable brands come from the Cognac and Armagnac regions of France and offer terroir similar to wine, with the brandy price tag to match.
Brandy from other European countries, the United States, and South Africa, along with Pisco from South America, are now increasingly popular and accessible, with a range of flavor and regional signatures.
The collection below of the 15 best brandy and Cognac to try features a mix of the most famous expressions sprinkled in with a range of other bottles from across the globe.
If youd like to learn more about brandy and the regions its grown in, .
A Whole Set Of Custom Brandy Snifters
Make nosing your favorite brandy or cognac a fun and easy experience with this set of engraved tasting glasses! Originally designed to be the official tasting glasses of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, the unique shape of these glasses enhance the flavors and direct the aromas to your nose so that you can enjoy your bourbon or cognac to the fullest. This set of four is great to take out for brandy or cognac tasting parties too!
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What Is Crme De Cacao
Crème de cacao is a sweet chocolate flavored liqueur that comes in dark and white varieties.
Although some sources say that you can substitute the coffee liqueur Kahlua for crème de cacao in a pinch, the two liqueurs are not the same. Youd be better off substituting a high quality dark chocolate syrup!
You can use either dark or white crème de cacao in a Brandy Alexander. I recommend the wonderful Crème de Cacao à la Vanille by Tempus Fugit.
Brandy Alexander Drink Recipe
The Brandy Alexander is a dessert drink: chocolatey, sweet, creamy and smooth. Because the alcohol taste is so light, you might think of it as a spiked milkshake. But its more subtle and grown-up than that.
Dont be fooled by the taste. Far from being weak, this drink contains a standard serving of brandy, plus an ounce of liqueur.
And that means its actually a little bit on the strong side. Its a popular choice for occasional drinkers, but its also beloved by many veteran cocktail drinkers. It just tastes so good.
The only mixer is an ounce of half-and-half .
Cream gives this drink a wonderful texture smooth and silky, and just a little bit thick. It feels luxurious, like a Grasshopper.
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The Singularity Of Cognac
Cognac is a protected place of origin, meaning it has a very specific way of making its brandy, wholly unique to its location. Distilled at least twice in copper stills, Cognac is then aged for a minimum of two years in French oak. Again, like wine, theres a perennial nature to it and the spirit-making closely follows the winemaking calendar. It begins just as the wines wrap up primary fermentation, roughly in early October in the northern hemisphere.
Many argue that its in the blending where Cognac takes on its nuanced nature and complexity of flavor. Experienced blenders will settle on an ideal harmony of flavors and let the batch integrate together for a spell prior to bottling. Per the Cognac guide above, there are several classes of the stuff, differentiated by aging times and more. There are also subregions within Cognac , six to be exact.
Three grape varieties are allowed in the production of genuine Cognac. Ugni Blanc is the most common, followed by Colombard and Folle Blanche. Theyre all white wine grapes and can offer distinctive flavors, textures, and more depending on how theyre farmed, what soils they reside in, the climate, etc. Again, its best to equate brandy, and Cognac especially, with fine wine.
Does It Matter Which Type Of Cognac
It can be awfully confusing the first time you find yourself standing in a liquor store looking that vast array of spirits thinking what on earth should I pick! Simply put, that labelling on cognac bottles helps the buyer determine the minimum age of the eau de vies used to make the cognac.
For mixing in recipes like this, A V.S. or V.S.O.P should be fine, you only want a Napoléon orX.O. if youre drinking your cognac neat youll soon work it out from the price labels!
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Why Use Brandy With Eggnog
Using brandy with eggnog is not the usual choice, but it is certainly one of the best options other than the usual rum. Brandy, particularly cognac, is infused with complex flavors during aging.
The best eggnog recipes contain the most flavorful ingredients, and brandy will complement the taste. Adding a liquor with an overpowering smell or taste like vodka may not be a good option. So whats the best way to drink brandy?
The Best Drinks To Mix With Brandy Ranked
Brandy is a distilled spirit, delivering an ABV of 40 to 50% ABV, which is equal to 80 to 100 proof, according to Food Network. That puts brandy into the same category as whiskey and other hard liquors. Nevertheless, brandy has acquired something of a staid reputation, associated in popular culture with tweedy fireside after-dinner quaffing from enormous snifters, which concentrate brandy’s various scents and flavors as they waft toward the nose . Brandy can be distilled from just about any fruit that has been fermented, including grapes, peaches, apples, cherries, and apricots. However, references to brandy are almost invariably to a spirit that has been distilled from fermented grapes. That could help explain why some people may describe brandy as an aged spirit that’s been distilled from wine. While true, it’s a bit of an oversimplification.
Brandy can be made in any country, but if it is called Cognac or Armagnac, it must come from one or another area within southwest France and meet a litany of other requirements . Although many countries and regions have their versions of brandy, this particular ranking of the best drinks to mix with brandy will focus on grape-based brandy, including Cognac and Armagnac.
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Best For Cocktails: Bertoux Brandy
Courtesy of Reserve Bar
Region: California | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Nuts, honey
Bertoux is nice and clean, easily sippable, and has these nutty and honey notes that make a perfect end to an evening, says Allmond. Understandable considering the bottles provenance: The blend was crafted with insight from PDTs Jeff Bell and The NoMads sommelier Thomas Pastuszak.
As such, Bertoux is designed to stand up well in cocktails, from classic brandy drinks to more modern creationseven the name is a nod to Jean Bertoux, the inventor of the sidecar. The American-made brandy is composed of a blend of three- to seven-year-old pot-distilled brandies aged in French and American oak. Sip it on the rocks, or use it as an excuse to stir up some classic cocktailsperhaps a sidecar?
“I love turning whiskey drinkers on to brandy. It seems like the next evolution for someone looking to expand their palate away from grain spirits. Brandies can be rough and rugged or they can be soft and elegant. The joy is discovering which personality will be in your glass. Shawn Lickliter, bar director for Republique and Petty Cash
Region: California | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Bright red berry, vegetal, funk
In cocktails, it adds unbelievable depth. We love to use this as a daiquiri base instead of rum, along with lime juice and simple syrup because it shows off the flavors.”
What Kind Of Brandy To Use
Brandy, if you’re unfamiliar, is a liquor made from grapes. It’s produced by distilling wine. Cognac is the name for brandy that’s produced in the Cognac region of France, which means that Cognac is to brandy as Champagne is to sparkling wine.
I’ve seen recipes that call for cognac here, but I think a nice mid-range brandy works perfectly well. I used Korbel, which is a California brandy. E & J is also a good choice.
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Best For Sangria: Cognac Park Vsop
Region: Cognac, France | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Ripe citrus, Salted caramel, Stone fruit
VSOP, or very superior old pale, refers to cognac in which the youngest brandy in the blend is at least four years old. This one from fourth-generation master blenders Lilian and Jérôme Tessendier has the orangey flavor that meshes with citrus and other fruit in a classic Spanish punch. Its not too creamy or cumbersome. Instead, its lithe and zingy, which is just the flavor profile you want when you’re making a pitcher of Sangria. Plus, the cognac is flavorful enough that a little goes a long way.
Garnish With Fresh Ground Nutmeg
Nutmeg is a traditional garnish for this cocktail. Its sophisticated enough that it needs very little extra. To compliment the creme de cacao, you could also garnish with chocolate shavings, but the nutmeg was absolutely perfect with the cognac.
This cocktail would be absolutely wonderful for a swanky Christmas cocktail party, or for a delicious after-dinner drink on Christmas day. I personally loved this cognac cocktail for a little cocktail party of my own. Cheers to you this holiday season! ~Erin
If you loved this classic cognac cocktail, be sure to check out some of my other recipes:
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Best Apple Brandy: Osocalis Apple Brandy
Region: California, USA | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Crushed apple, Orange zest, Vanilla bean
Some apple brandies can be cloying, while some too tart. But this bottle from distiller Dan Farber is the perfect balance between the two. An American brandy pioneer, Farber studied in Cognac and other regions back in the 1980s before he founded Osocalis Distillery in Santa Cruz, Calif.
Desoblin describes this bottle as having a very, very calvados-like nature. In a blind tasting, you would think this is a 20-year-old brandy from Normandy, he says. He likes its blending of richness with vibrant, fruity, crushed-apple aromas, and the many-layered complexity that comes in waves of apple expression.
How To Make It Recipe
Youll need three key ingredients to prepare this indulgent cocktail, with a little nutmeg garnish to finish off if youre feeling fancy. Its traditionally served in a standard cocktail glass, and the ingredients listed below should fill one glass.
- 1 oz of cognac
- 1 oz of creme de cacao
- 1 oz of cream
- Grated nutmeg to garnish
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Best Brandies For Eggnog
Last Updated on July 28, 2022 by Lydia Martin
Eggnogs are really fit for the holiday season. But we can upgrade it with a twist other than the usual rum. Using brandy is a good addition because of its complexity in taste.
Lets find out what is the best brandy for eggnog and what recipes you can follow to bring a more delicious treat to the table.
History Of The Brandy Alexander
There are a lot of different stories concerning the origin of this creamy cocktail, and well probably never know the exact who, where, and how of its creation. One story says it was made for a royal wedding in London back in the 1920s, while another story claims it was named after Alexander II, Emperor of Russia in the 1800s.
Another story says that the drink was named after New York bartender Troy Alexander, who claims to have created the drink to celebrate the fictional advertising character of Phoebe Snow. While we cant be sure which story is true, we do know that the drink is an alteration of an earlier cocktail, known simply as the Alexander, which uses gin as its primary alcohol, as opposed to brandy.
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Best Spanish: Lepanto Brandy Solera Gran Reserva
Region: Jerez, Spain | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Dried fruit, Toasted nuts, Dark cocoa
To be called a Brandy de Jerez, a spirit must be made in the Jerez area of Andalusias famed Sherry Triangle,” aged in American oak that previously held sherry, and matured via a solera system. This bottle is made using wine from estate-grown palomino fino grapes distilled in centuries-old copper alembic pots, then aged for a minimum of 12 years.
Dan Nicolaescu, beverage manager at New York’s Copper and Oak, describes it as concentrated and alluring with a rich mahogany color with golden sparkles, intoxicating flavors of nuts, dried fruit and cocoa, and a long, fulfilling finish. He says the Lepanto brandy works well in stirred drinks like an Old Fashioned, where it plays beautifully with the Angostura bitters.
Region: California, USA | ABV: 40% | Tasting Notes: Meyer lemon, Grapefruit, Baking spices, Luscious finish
California is an emergent region for the spirit nowadays, but Germain Robin has been making luscious brandy there for nearly 40 years, since the day when one of the founders picked the other one up hitchhiking.
The Original Alexander Was Made With Gin
The first Alexander cocktail was made with equal parts gin, crème de cacao and cream.
Gin isnt typically my first thought when I think dessert drinks, so its not a huge surprise that the Brandy Alexander eventually overtook the original in popularity.
Initially known as the Alexander #2, its a mystery who first swapped the gin for brandy.
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A Brandy Glass For Stogies
Use this cognac and cigar glass to never again have to worry about being able to hold both your cognac glass as well as your stogie at the same time. The edge of the glass is indented so that you can easily fit your cigar in the notch while also holding onto your glass. While some people may be concerned about how much you pour into a glass, what a cognac glass is called, or what size the glass for brandy should be, youve got your priorities straight by using the perfect brandy glass for a drink and a cigar!
Best Brandies For The Brandy Alexander
While the brandy Alexander is spirit-forward, you don’t need to splurge on decadent, expensive bottles to enjoy this cocktail. Consider a brandy that is smooth, with notes of vanilla or caramel to complement the crème de cacao and cream.
- Argonaut Fat Thumb is driven by notes of toasted oak, nutmeg, and vanilla that would make an excellent cocktail.
- Fundador Brandy has a slightly nuttier taste, which makes it a great pairing with the grated nutmeg garnish.
- Deau Cognac VS has a subtler vanilla flavor but a silky smooth body.
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Classic Snifter Set For The Cigar Smoker
A nice cigar and a glass of brandy go together like rum and Coke.This sophisticated set is perfect for lighting up a stogie and pouring a glass of brandy for a friend or loved one. The snifters are perfect for sipping a warm brandy whether its heated on an actual warmer like the ones above or just through your natural body heat. These snifters fit snugly and securely in your hand and are designed to allow plenty of heat to be absorbed to warm your drink. This set even comes with a cigar cutter, lighter, and a personalized gift box where you can store your snifters for safekeeping when not in use, making this complete set a must-have for any cognac connoisseur.