How to make a Brandy Alexander, a Frosty for adults

Illustration for article titled How to make a Brandy Alexander, a Frosty for adults
Photo: Charles Wollertz, HaykOhanyan (iStock), Graphic: Emma McKhann
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Welcome to Old Folks Food Week, where we resurrect and celebrate the delicious dishes of yore.


For Old Folks Food Week, we obviously needed to include a cocktail. Yes, I know, the Old-Fashioned was right there. But I couldn’t help recalling a story from my friend Christy, about her mom’s group of Brandy Alexander gal pals. Just a bunch of friends who would go out into the Midwestern evenings to partake of Brandy Alexanders. They even found several bars that would make the drink for them. Sounds delicious, right?

So I looked up the Brandy Alexander, and turns out it’s even more delicious than I would have thought. Basically because it’s made out of brandy (obviously), creme de cacao, and ice cream. I’m even more impressed with my friend’s mom’s friends now: How many bars have slightly melty vanilla ice cream at the ready? Guessing, not many. I also found some more traditional BA recipes with equal parts brandy, crème de cacao, and heavy cream, which seems more like something a bar might have. Also, that combo sounds extremely potent.

But hey, it’s still technically summer, so making an old-fashioned ice-cream boozy drink sounded good to me. What’s more, thanks to my husband the spice freak, we even had whole nutmegs and cinnamon sticks at the ready to grate on top.

As in many instances this week, turns out the previous generation was definitely on to something. The overall Brandy Alexander effect is that of a refreshing, creamy, frosty eggnog (without the egginess) that’s about 100 times easier than making that drink from scratch. Drinking 1/2 of a pint of ice cream is pretty filling though, so one of these is definitely my limit. I wonder how the Brandy Alexander gals fare on their evenings out?

Classic Brandy Alexander

Illustration for article titled How to make a Brandy Alexander, a Frosty for adults
Photo: Gwen Ihnat

Makes 2

  • 1 1/2 cups softened vanilla ice cream (I used a pint of Häagen-Dazs)
  • 2 oz. brandy
  • 2 oz. crème de cacao
  • Freshly grated nutmeg or cinnamon

Combine first three ingredients in blender and mix until just combined. Garnish with grated spices. Drink up. Hooooo boy.


Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.


Never been much of a drinker, myself, but early on I was intrigued by the mystique of ‘adult’ beverages. I started by reading The Bartender’s junior high.

I’ve never heard of using ice cream in a Brandy Alexander. The classic recipe called for ~1 oz. of whole cream. This gives rich texture (’mouth feel’) without added sugar.

To avoid the calories — and cloying sweetness — of ice cream, try using a blender. A few blips should add a satisfying level of thickness, like a Starbucks’ frappuccino.

BTW: even by the mid-’70s, the Brandy Alexander was considered an old lady’s drink -- more precisely, an old barfly’s drink. Right up there with the Grasshopper.