Brandy Alexander Day
annually on January 31st
Today we celebrate the Brandy Alexander, an alcoholic drink made with crème de cacao, cream, and brandy, most often of the cognac variety. The drink can also simply be called an "Alexander," although an Alexander is also the name given to a gin-based cocktail that predates the Brandy Alexander. Brandy Alexanders are often imbibed as after-dinner drinks.
It is not known exactly when the drink was created or who created it, but there are a few different theories. One story says it was thought up in 1922 for the wedding of Viscount Lascelles and Princess Mary, the oldest daughter of King George V and Queen Mary. Alexander Woollcott of the Algonquin Round Table said it was named after him. Some believe it was named after Russian Tsar Alexander II. Still another story says it was created by, and named after, Troy Alexander, a bartender from Rector's, a restaurant in New York City. According to this story, Alexander created the drink so a white drink could be served at a dinner celebrating Phoebe Snow, a fictional character used in advertisements for railroads. No matter which of these stories is true, "Brandy Alexander" first appeared in print in 1925.
The drink was seen as a "ladies cocktail" for a long time, as it did not have as much liquor as some other drinks. In Days of Wine and Roses, a 1962 film starring Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick, Lemmon buys his wife, played by Remick, a Brandy Alexander because she doesn't like liquor. His plan to give her a light drink leads her into a downward spiral, however, as she likes the drink so much that it helps lead to her alcoholism.
But, in the decades after the drink's creation, it has come to be enjoyed by both men and women. It became one of John Lennon's favorite drinks, having been introduced to him by Harry Nilsson on March 12, 1974. Lennon and Nilsson famously got wildly drunk, so much so that they got kicked out of the Troubadour in Los Angeles for heckling the Smothers Brothers.