Classic Cocktailing: A Brandy Alexander from Assouline

Do you remember the first drink you ever ordered? Mine was an Amaretto sour — not very adventurous, and though I like them to this day, I’ve been fine-tuning my drink list ever since. I’m now partial to sidecars, although more often than not, a bartender turns me down. So I’ll ask for something easier — a lemon drop, a mojito, or, facing a very limited bar, that girly drink every mixologist knows how to mix: a cosmo. But I’m always embarrassed to utter that word. I am not a cosmo girl. They’ll do in a pinch, but how much lovelier to saunter up to a long bar and order something refined, raising one’s eyebrow and rolling each syllable off the tongue — Bran-dy Al-ex-an-der, or Sing-a-pore Sling? The elegant romance of these classics is evoked by Assouline’s glossy new picture book, Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle Hotel.

With every page, I built up a new drink list filled with deliciously civilized things to order (and utter): Rob Roy, Stinger, Gimlet, Mint Julep, Moscow Mule … Sloe. Gin. Fizz. Now to convince my local bartender to make them. Modern mixologists do cartwheels trying to impress patrons with New and Improved concoctions. I’m all for experimentation, but there’s something about the Old Fashioned. As they say, everything old is new again. Impress the hell out of your Thanksgiving gathering (especially grandma) by serving up the perfect complement to pumpkin pie: the Brandy Alexander. Created in the twenties, this creamy classic John Lennon is said to have called his “milkshake” is sprinkled with the same key spice that makes your pie sing — fresh grated nutmeg. Now you’re one smooth Pilgrim.

Brandy Alexander 1 ½ oz brandy 1 oz dark crème de cacao 1 oz half-and-half ¼ tsp grated nutmeg

In a shaker, combine the brandy, crème de cacao and half-and-half. Add ice and shake well. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with nutmeg. Note: for a delicious spin on this drink, try the Brandy Flip, also in the book.

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