Alexander the great
From the holiday songs to the rituals, this month has "classic" written all over it. It seems fitting, then, to find a Brandy Alexander ($8.95) on the cocktail menu at Fleming's (217 Stuart St., 617-292-0808, flemingssteakhouse.com). Many bartenders these days are, thankfully, digging up obscure recipes for classy flips, fizzes, and Alaskas that were once considered Saturday-night staples. But the Brandy Alexander seems to be one of those classics that imbibers seem content to relegate to the land of the lost.
The mahogany bar in Fleming's stately but cozy front room was plenty suitable to indulge. The bartender, Richard Reardon, shot me a knowing look when I asked for one. Reardon, who did what he refers to as two "tours of duty" at the landmark Chart House -- eight years in the 1980s and five years in the 1990s -- said people don't drink Brandy Alexanders anymore. He asked if I wanted some nutmeg (I did) and gladly shook up brandy, crème de cacao, and cream. As Jack Lemmon says of the drink in "Days of Wine and Roses": "It's chocolate."
"What are you drinking?" asked the woman beside me. She was nursing her second White Russian while her husband, enjoying a gin and tonic, took pictures of their cocktails with his mobile phone to send to their teenage kids in New Hampshire. The woman noticed that our drinks had the same pearly opaqueness. "Is there a difference?" she asked. There is. The Brandy Alexander is a bit like her White Russian, but more honest. Nothing is concealed, as the vodka is in her drink. And with the light nutmeg dusting, it's picture perfect.
Barcode runs every Friday. E-mail Liza at firstname.lastname@example.org.