The History of the Alexander

  • 22nd May 2014

The Alexander is a dessert cocktail steeped in history that is made using a basic mixology template that every experimental cocktail should start with.

The original drink is made using gin, chocolate liqueur and cream. Although the drink has spawned many variations, all work on the basic premise of 1 part base spirit, 1 part liqueur and 1 part dairy based mixer.

The first Alexander is thought to have been made by Troy Alexander at Rectors in New York. They were celebrating the creation of the fictional character, Phoebe Snow. She was a beautiful cartoon woman used to promote the use of clean-burning coal on the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad. She wore a white dress, white hat and white gloves, and so Alexander wanted to create a white cocktail to commemorate her. He named it after himself.

It was first captured in print in “Recipes for Mixed Drinks” by Hugo Ensslin in 1915.

Around 1922, Princess Mary married Viscount Lascelles in London. Most believe that this was the time when the gin was replaced with brandy in honor of this event. Thus, the Brandy Alexander was born. This is now the most popular version of this drink, with the cocktail cropping up in more lists than the original Alexander. It is slightly smoother and sweeter, and many think, tastier.

The marriage story is widely disputed, however, and there are many other theories as to how it was created. Some think that the Brandy Alexander was not a variation of the original, but a new drink created without any knowledge of its predecessor. The Russian Tsar, Alexander II, believes the drink was named after him, while opera critic, Alexander Dragon, believes it was made with him in mind. Either way, the drink has become extremely popular, appearing in many television programs including the Mary Tyler Moore Show when her character ordered one during a job interview. The show is considered to be one of the most acclaimed programs ever produced, and did a lot to raise the profile of the drink. Ringo Starr and John Lennon were also said to be huge fans of the Alexander, with Lennon referring to it as his milkshake.

Other variations include the Coffee Alexander which swaps the gin for coffee liqueur, and the Blue Alexander which replaces the crème de cocoa with blue curacao. The cream is often substituted with milk or sometimes ice cream to make a really delicious after meal treat.

Cocktails mentioned in this post

Alexander cocktail
Rate me
Added About 5 years ago
3 ingredients
First seen in Hugo Ensslins 1915 book "Recipes for Mixed Drinks", this classic cocktail can now be seen the world over. Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well for 10-15. Strain into cocktail glass.The version shown in the picture is an original Alexander but dusted ...
First seen in Hugo Ensslins 1915 book "Recipes for Mixed Drinks", this classic cocktail can now be seen the world over. Add all ingredients into a ...
Rating: 4.98 / 5

This post was wrote by ....

Suzanna H
Hi, I am Suzanna. I would describe myself as a bit of a foodie with a side-interest in fancy cocktails. Anything sweet and alcoholic and I'm in! I am also an avid writer, proofreader and editor and work freelance through the website People per Hour.


Recent posts

    • goulash-1696569_960_720Cooking With Spirits
      Most of us are familiar with cooking with wine, whether we are making a delicious red wine sauce to complement our beef, or a white wine sauce to go
    • perfect-whiskey-punch-1End of Summer Party Drinks
      September may be here to mark the beginning of Autumn, but the Summer sun hasn’t given up on us just yet. We think that you should make the most of
    • eggsEgg-cellent Cocktail Trends
      Trends in the bartending industry tend to move just as quickly as those in the fashion world. And while we see weird and wacky ideas pop up from time