Create a unique Brandy Alexander cocktail and WIN

Stand a chance of winning a bottle of Van Ryns 10 year old Vintage brandy and two brandy sniffer glasses, valued at approximately R500. Simply tell us a unique Brandy Alexander cocktail of your creation. To enter, read more about Brandy Alexander Day below, and fill in the form. Good luck.

To help us celebrate Brandy Alexander Day on Tuesday 31 January, we went to Shaker Bar School in Cape Town’s trendy Bree Street for a crash course in mixology. Here’s what Anil Sabharwal, one of the directors, had to say.

What, technically speaking, is a cocktail?

The official definition of a cocktail according to the modern Merriam-Webster Dictionary is “an iced drink of wine or distilled spirits mixed with flavouring ingredients”. That’s a broad definition but it reflects the modern practice of referring to almost any mixed drink as a cocktail.

Where was the Brandy Alexander ‘born’?

There’s a great lineage to the Brandy Alexander and it has the typical shrouded past of many vintage cocktails. Reportedly it was created for the 1922 wedding of Viscount Lascelles and Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood. But well-known opera critic Alexander Dragon claimed that it was named after him. Some reports also claim that it was named after Alexander II [Emperor of Russia from 1855 until his assassination in 1881] while others attribute it to Troy Alexander, a bartender at Rector’s restaurant in New York City, who purportedly created it as a drink for a fictitious advertising character called Phoebe Snow.

How do you make a Brandy Alexander?

First, add 37.5ml of good quality brandy or cognac, 25ml of crème de cacao, and 25ml of single cream to a mixing glass. Then shake hard with crushed ice, fine strain into a chilled martini glass, and finish off with a dusting of nutmeg.

Are there any alternative methods?

The variations of the Brandy Alexander are as numerous as the tales of its origin. Some of the most popular are the Dreamy Alexander (equal amounts of crème de cacao and Cointreau, and served with a slice of orange instead of nutmeg), the Mocha Alexander (combination of crème de cacao and coffee liqueur served with a garnishing of cocoa powder), Alexander’s Sister (substitute crème de cacao for crème de menthe), and the Frozen Alexander (adding the ingredients to a blender and replace the cream with a scoop of vanilla ice cream).

What’s the secret to making great cocktails?

The craft of creating a balanced, visually appealing, and thoroughly palatable drink lies in the ability of combining flavours with alcohol. Most bartenders don’t even receive have the training a professional chef receives so it’s important to know your ingredients first, before attempting to mix drinks. Treat all drinks like a work of art and you will be one step closer to becoming a serious professional bartender.