Cocktails by Consensus: The Alexander

The Alexander Cocktail

Hugo Ensslin (1915)What To Drink?Diffords GuideFive O'Clock Cocktails
Gin1 part1 oz2 shots1.25 oz.
Creme De Cacao1 part1 oz1 shot.75 oz.
Cream1 part1 oz.1/2shotUse Ciao Bella Mint Chip Gelato
GarnishGrated NutmegFennel Seeds

Here’s a cocktail that has ended up on the short end of the stick here on The Gin is In. I’m Lactose Intolerant. I don’t drink cream, and I especially do not drink cream based drinks in bars.

But why don’t you take those little pills?
A: There is no amount of Lactaid Pills in the world that make me able to digest cream. I take 10 pills just to have a piece of pizza…

The Alexander is a peculiar drink in the gin cocktail canon. It is heavy, thick, and is fabulous at disguising the taste of gin. This contributed to its heydey during prohibition when the Alexander became a speakeasy favorite? The cream is great at disguising the taste of cheap (and bathtub) gin.

Six degrees of Buffalo: The Alexander
This is an interesting footnote. One “origin” story of the cocktail cites a gentleman by the name of Troy Alexander who worked at George Rector’s restaurant in New York City. The cause célèbre? The DL&W (Deleware, Lackawanna and Western railroad) wanted to celebrate their newly launched and wildly successful advertising campaign which featured Phoebe Snow. Miss Snow was used to advertise the new “clean” railroads. They were so clean that she could travel in a white dress and read by electric light on the railroad. And where was Miss Snow going? Her character regularly traveled from New York City to Buffalo, New York.

Phoebe Snow advertisement

About the Cocktail
As this is one of the very few gin cocktails that I do not drink, I don’t have a lot of personal advice to offer you. Despite the drink’s origin and relatively simple recipe (1:1:1 just like the Negroni), modern recipes seem to be a bit all over the place.

It seems that the modern variations have restored gin to a more prominent role in this cocktail, tending to skew the ratio of gin to cream upwards to 2:1.  The modern recipes also tend to use less Creme de Cacao. One particularly interesting  variation speaks to the state of the modern American kitchen. Use Ice Cream in place of Cream? Sure, why not. As long as the ice cream has a flavor which won’t clash with the rest of the cocktail. Mint seems like a great choice, though I’d think that chocolate or vanilla might actually work fairly well too.

Source #1: Wikipedia
Source #2: What to Drink?
Source #3: Diffords Guide
Source #4: 5 o’Clock Cocktails


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5 thoughts on “Cocktails by Consensus: The Alexander


    Aww. Hey, how about lactose-free cream? I know they make that, we have to use it because my father is lactose intolerant.

    Not so much for the sake of the Alexander (which I have tried and which I don’t think is any good..), but because cream is an essential component of the Ramos Gin Fizz which is my very favorite gin drink bar none. I take it you haven’t had one because of the lactose intolerance..? I highly recommend tracking down lactose-free cream and making one of those. It has to be experienced. :3


    I never thought about using the Lactose-Free ice cream in a cocktail, but I will admit to being a huge fan of lactose-free ice cream period.

    I think I will give that a try. I didn’t actually think that ice cream would have made a good substitute in a cocktail, so we’ll give it a shot and see how it comes out.

    I have had several other kinds of Fizzes, but never the Ramos. That’s a good idea, I’ll let you know what what I think!

    // Ramos Fizz
    1 ½ oz gin
    ½ oz fresh lemon juice
    ½ oz fresh lime juice
    1 oz simple syrup
    2 oz heavy cream
    1 egg white
    Few drops of orange flower water
    Top off with soda


    Well, I meant lactose-free actual cream, not ice cream. :p I guess both are worth a shot. I *really* doubt ice cream would be any good in a Ramos though.


    Hmm, I’ve never seen just plain Lactose-free cream before. The highest fat content I’ve seen is Whole Milk. They have to have it somewhere though.


    Really? They have lactose-free heavy cream here. It tastes pretty much identical to regular heavy cream. Spendy, however..

    If we have it here, then by God it has to be in NYC. EVERYTHING is available in NYC. :p

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