a/k/a the Alexander, this “chocolate martini” is full of holiday cheer
Crème de cacao with gin in the mix, cream shaken in for a heavenly fix . . . . These are a few of our favorite things.
So of course we love the The Gin Alexander Cocktail. It’s a delightful early 20th century creation that seems particularly appropriate for December.
Mix one up and you’ll be tasting a historical tipple. And getting a darn good drink in the bargain.
Recipe: The Gin Alexander Cocktail
The Gin Alexander Cocktail (originally just called the Alexander) is the parent of the now more famous Brandy Alexander. It may be the first chocolate-flavored cocktail – the original chocolate “martini,” if you will.
We think this cocktail is too sweet for a before-dinner drink. It’s ideal with dessert, though. Better yet, sip one on a lazy afternoon while you’re sampling holiday cookies.
This drink takes about 5 minutes to prepare and serves 1.
- 1 ounce dry gin (or to taste – see Notes)
- 1 ounce white (clear) crème de cacao (you can substitute brown in a pinch; see Notes)
- 1 ounce heavy cream (or half-and-half if you want a lighter drink)
- a dusting of ground nutmeg for garnish (very optional; see Notes)
- Combine all ingredients (except garnish) in a cocktail shaker half filled with ice. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds or more, until the drink is cold. Shaking longer helps increase the foaminess of the cream, which creates a more attractive drink (see Notes).
- Strain into a cocktail glass, preferably one that’s been chilled. Add a dusting of ground nutmeg if desired (freshly ground is better) and serve.
- This drink traditionally is served “up” in a cocktail glass. Either a classic v-shaped “martini” glass or a cocktail coupe will work.
- Our recipe calls for equal parts of all ingredients (a 1:1:1 ratio). This drink originally was mixed with a 2:1:1 ratio (twice as much gin as other ingredients). That works pretty well if you’re using a softer flavored gin like Plymouth. But if you’re using a gin with a more assertive flavor – like Beefeater, our standard gin for mixed drinks – you may want to use less (as we do). But experiment and see what you like.
- You can find crème de cacao in any liquor store (generally in the liqueur/cordial section). It comes in brown or white (clear) versions. The flavor of both is very similar. But brown crème de cacao will tint the drink slightly, which is why we recommend using the white variety.
- Which brand of crème de cacao to buy? We like Marie Brizard, but it’s more expensive than the widely available (and good enough) DeKuyper brand.
- Our usual reminder: We are non-commercial and are not compensated for making brand suggestions. We recommend what we like and buy with our own money.
- This drink should be foamy. That means you’ll need to shake it well – more than most other drinks. We sometimes add the cream to the cocktail shaker without the other ingredients or ice, then shake it for 15 seconds or so to give the cream a head start on creating foam (this technique is called dry shaking). Then we add the ice and other ingredients and shake for another 30 seconds or more.
- Ground nutmeg is the traditional garnish for this drink, but we don’t find it particularly appealing (it works better with the Brandy Alexander). So we usually skip it. But ground nutmeg looks nice (and does add some flavor and visual interest to the drink), so add it if you wish.
- So what’s the history of the Gin Alexander? As is the case with most cocktails, we’re not entirely sure. But here’s the most widely accepted back story: It’s believed to have been created around 1910 by Troy Alexander (hence the name). Alexander, who was serving as bar manager at Rector’s restaurant in New York City, reportedly created this drink for a banquet held at the restaurant by the Lackawanna Railroad.
- At the time, the Lackawanna Railroad advertised their use of “smokeless” coal, which was supposed to create less soot (so passengers riding in the carriages wouldn’t have their clothing soiled). To highlight this riding experience, the company’s advertising featured a (fictitious) young lady named Phoebe Snow who always wore white clothing – presumably to demonstrate what a “clean” ride the Lackawanna provided.
- Troy Alexander wanted to create a pure white drink to riff off their advertising. So the Alexander Cocktail was born. Truth? Fiction? Who knows? Good story, though.
- Programming Note: This is our last post of the year. We’re taking off until the first Wednesday of 2021. See you then!
Good Riddance to 2020
“Gin and chocolate?” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Who knew?”
“Sounds like an unlikely combo,” I said. “But it works.”
“And we definitely need a few more belts of gin to see off 2020,” said Mrs K R.
“Fortunately, things are looking up for 2021,” I said. “Vaccine to the rescue!”
“I’ll drink to that,” said Mrs K R. Drinking to that.
Me too. Hope your holidays are full of fun and joy. Stay healthy, and see you next year!
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