Brandy Alexander Cocktail

4.96 from 24 votes

The Brandy Alexander is a classic after-dinner cocktail that will elevate your next dinner party. Made with brandy, cream and crème de cacao and topped with freshly grated nutmeg, this drinkable dessert is a great way to end a delicious meal.

Two Brandy Alexanders on a silver tray with nuts.

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Brandy Alexander cocktail recipe

A good dessert drink makes the ultimate nightcap to cap off a great meal. There is perhaps no better choice than the Brandy Alexander.

This creamy  cocktail features sweet cognac, chocolatey crème de cacao and thick cream to make a decadent, luxurious cocktail.

It’s finished off with a sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg for a  garnish that adds the ultimate spiced aroma to every sip.

You’ll love this easy, three-ingredient drink with classy vibes — it feels like a step back in time.

More brandy recipes: Sugar Plum SidecarTangerine SidecarWassail

Two Brandy Alexanders with chocolate and nutmeg on a tray.

Why you’ll love this recipe

The Brandy Alexander is the perfect drink for your next dinner party.

  • It tastes like melted chocolate ice cream — in the best way.
  • It’s easy to make with just three ingredients.
  • The Brandy Alexander is a great classic cocktail every home bartender should know.
A Brandy Alexander in a martini glass.

What is a Brandy Alexander drink?

The Brandy Alexander is a sweet, creamy dessert cocktail made similar to a chocolate martini. It’s made by shaking heavy cream, crème de cacao and brandy, specifically cognac. It is usually finished with a sprinkle of nutmeg on top.

The result is a thick, indulgent drink perfect for ending the night on a good note. It tastes like grown-up chocolate milk. Or, “like milkshakes,” as John Lennon of the Beatles put it — it was one of his go-to drinks.

Brandy Alexander Day is celebrated on January 31, but you can drink this boozy milkshake any time. It makes a lovely after-dinner cocktail. 

History of the Brandy Alexander

Like many cocktails, the true origin of this drink is a little muddled. Chilled Magazine explains that the first version of this drink, the Alexander, was created through marketing efforts for Lackawanna Railroad in the early 1900s.

At a time when train travel was considered dirty and would leave riders covered in soot, the railroad began using clean-burning anthracite and advertised clean train travel. In advertisements, they introduced a character named Phoebe Snow, who wore a snow-white dress and drank the snow-white drink, the Alexander. 

Invented by New York bartender Troy Alexander for an event for the railroad, the drink made with gin, cream and crème de cacao. The train company advertised that you could order the drink on board in honor of Phoebe Snow. 

The brandy version of the gin-based cocktail, the Brandy Alexander, arrived on the scene in 1937 in Cafe Royal Cocktail Book by William J. Tarling, and grew in popularity ever since. 

The drink has seen its fair share of pop culture, too, appearing in The Mary Tyler Moore Show and a James Bond short story. The drink even has its own song, “Brandy Alexander” by Feist, which debuted in 2007, with the lyrics, “He’s my Brandy Alexander, always gets me into trouble, but that’s another matter, Brandy Alexander.” (It’s one of my very favorite songs.)

Two Brandy Alexanders with nutmeg on a tray.

Tools & glassware

To make the Brandy Alexander recipe, you will need a basic bartending set, including a jigger for measuring, a shaker for combining the ingredients and a strainer for preventing ice from entering the cocktail.

A microplane or seater is needed for grating the nutmeg garnish on top of the drink.

Finally, to serve the drinks, you’ll want a martini glass, coupe glass or stemless martini glass. A stemmed cocktail glass, to me, adds to the sophistication and delicate nature of this drink.

A half-full bottle of arrow brand creme de cacao sits on a white marble surface

Ingredients

You only need three ingredients to make this perfect dessert cocktail:

  • Brandy or cognac: This aged spirit is sweet and fruity. Cognac is aged a bit longer than brandy, so its flavor is a bit more complex, which is why it’s the top choice for this cocktail, but you can use either type of brandy here.
  • Crème de cacao: This chocolate-flavored liqueur comes in two ways: in clear form (light crème de cacao) and in a dark brown color (dark crème de cacao). I prefer the dark crème de cacao here, but if you want more of a snowy look, you can use white crème de cacao. 
  • Heavy whipping cream: Use heavy cream or whipping cream here. Half-and-half will work, too, but it won’t be quite as thick and will lack some of that milkshake quality.
  • Whole nutmeg: Use a piece of nutmeg and grate it on a microplane or zester to get the freshly grated effect. You can also use a pinch of ground nutmeg.

Variations and substitutions

Mix things up with one of these simple cocktail variations:

Frozen Brandy Alexander: You can make this an actual boozy milkshake in the blender. Use a few scoops vanilla ice cream instead of heavy cream. Freeze a big batch and then scoop it into glasses, à la the frozen grasshopper, for holiday parties or dinner parties. 

Amarula Brandy Alexander: Use the South African spirit Amarula instead of crème de cacao for a spiced and fruity twist.

Baileys Alexander: Try Irish cream instead of the crème de cacao to bring in flavors of coffee and vanilla.

Virgin Brandy Alexander: You can make a non-alcoholic Brandy Alexander with chocolate syrup instead of crème de cacao and a zero-proof spirit instead of brandy. There’s not a solid brandy alternative on the market that I’ve found, but a zero-proof whiskey like Ritual whiskey alternative would work well.

How to make a Brandy Alexander

Making a Brandy Alexander is quick and easy. You’ll love this simple recipe! 

A person pouring coffee liqueur into a metal cup.
A person pouring brandy into a metal cup.
A person pouring cream into a metal cup.

First, fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the equal parts of Brandy, cream and crème de cacao. Cover and shake it up well.

A Brandy Alexander being poured into a martini glass.
A Brandy Alexanders martini in a martini glass with sprinkles of nutmeg.

Then, strain it into a martini glass. Over top, grate a piece of nutmeg or sprinkle on a pinch of ground nutmeg.

Tips & tricks

Here are some tips for making this drink

  • Don’t shake too hard — you want the drink to be thick, but you‘re mot making whipped cream!
  • Use real grated nutmeg on top for the best aroma.
  • Level it up with a top shelf cognac.
Two Brandy Alexander martinis on a silver tray.

What to serve with a Brandy Alexander

This chocolate cocktail is perfect with dessert after a great dinner.

Have it alongside red wine brownies or Baileys chocolate chip cookies.

They’d also be great at a Christmas party with a dessert like rum balls.

FAQ

What’s a Brandy Alexander made of?

A Brandy Alexander contains crème de cacao, heavy cream and brandy. The brandy that is usually used is cognac.

What kind of alcohol is crème de cacao?

Crème de cacao is a sweet and syrupy liqueur with chocolate flavor. It means “chocolate cream” in French, but the cream does not refer to actual cream, as there is none in crème de cacao. Instead, it refers to the richness of the chocolate flavor. Crème de cacao comes in a dark brown version and a clear version.

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Two Brandy Alexanders with nutmeg on a tray.

Brandy Alexander Cocktail

Yield: 1 drink
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
The Brandy Alexander is a creamy classic cocktail that tastes like a boozy milkshake.
4.96 from 24 votes
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ingredients

  • 1 ounce brandy ideally cognac
  • 1 ounce heavy cream
  • 1 ounce crème de cacao
  • pinch freshly grated nutmeg

instructions

  • Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the brandy, cream and crème de cacao.
  • Cover and shake well. Strain into a martini glass.
  • Grate whole nutmeg over top of the drink to garnish.

notes

In lieu of freshly-grated nutmeg, you can sprinkle on ground nutmeg. However, fresh nutmeg has the best aroma and flavor. 
Don’t shake too hard — you want the drink thick, but you‘re not making whipped cream!
Level up this drink with cognac, which has a more complex flavor. 

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nutrition information

Yield: 1 drink

amount per serving:

Serving: 3ounces Calories: 266kcal Carbohydrates: 16g Protein: 1g Fat: 11g Saturated Fat: 7g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g Monounsaturated Fat: 3g Cholesterol: 32mg Sodium: 8mg Potassium: 31mg Fiber: 0.2g Sugar: 9g Vitamin A: 418IU Vitamin C: 0.2mg Calcium: 21mg Iron: 0.1mg
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