A Pie with a Punch: Brandy Alexander Pie

Dessert, Recipes
on April 29, 2007
Brandy Alexander Pie
Mark Boughton Photography / styling: Tersa Blackburn

Brandy Alexander Pie is a dessert that never lets you down. The soup may not be piping hot, the roast overcooked, and the salad dressing heavy on Dijon, but when everyone gets up from the table, the only thing they remember is the pie. You’ll be asked how you got the filling so billowy, the crust so crisp, and the chocolate curls so perfect. It’s that kind of recipe.

The pie is named for Brandy Alexander, a cocktail with a fuzzy history, which was created almost a hundred years ago. In 1930, the drink made its debut in print in a book by Harry Craddock, a bartender at the Savoy Hotel in London who was a master at mixing cocktails. Originally made with gin and called an Alexander, Brandy Alexander was a sweet and creamy concoction popular with women. Some people called it a “girl drink.” Possibly because it tasted more like a milkshake than a real drink, it was listed as one of the 10 worst cocktails by Esquire magazine in 1934.

But Brandy Alexander Pie is another story. It was probably first made in the early 1930s when Prohibition was lifted and people could resume adding liqueurs to their cooking. Although the ingredients in the cocktail and the pie are similar—brandy, creme de cacao and cream—the end products are completely different. In the hands of even a novice pie maker, they are transformed into a mousse-like filling lightened with whipped cream and flavored with exactly the right amount of liqueur. We have seen versions with everything from Irish whisky to creme de banana, but the one with creme de cacao and brandy is the pie we love.

— By Jean Kressy, a food writer in Ashburnham, Mass.

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