Hard-drinking, right-handed future Hall of Famer Grover Cleveland “Old Pete” Alexander took the mound for the Phillies on Friday, Oct. 8, 1915, for Game 1 of the World Series against the Red Sox. A few miles from National League Park, celebratory preparations were underway at the Racquet Club, where, according to The Inquirer, “The head bartender has even gone so far as to invent an Alexander cocktail, which he is reserving to be served during the World Series.”

“I know the cocktail but had no idea it was potentially invented here,” co-chair of the Racquet Club’s food-and-beverage committee Christian Folkestad says when I share the Brandy Alexander’s alleged origin story. Club bartender Drew Jenkins doesn’t get a lot of calls for this nutmeg-dusted cocktail of Cognac, crème de cacao, and cream. According to Folkestad, most members prefer “what we call the Racquet Club Pour, where the wine glasses are filled [nearly] to the top and the gin and tonics are 99% gin with a splash of tonic.”

Founded in 1889 as refuge for well-to-do Anglophiles, the Racquet Club of Philadelphia is noteworthy for several inventions: the game of squash doubles; the indoor above-ground pool, a rippling 45,000-gallon aquarium braced above the lobby’s coffered ceiling; and (maybe) the Brandy Alexander, if not an Alexander.

“Cocktail history is cloudy, competitive, prone to mythmaking, and dependent on sometimes centuries-old receipts very few folks have kept,” I write in my book The Cocktail Workshop, and the Alexander is no exception. I learned of the connection to Philly and the Phillies — they eventually lost that series, by the way, after Old Pete won Game 1 — while working on the book. Another tale places the Alexander’s creation at the fabled New York restaurant Rector’s, where a bartender named Troy Alexander allegedly came up with the white drink in honor of the fictional, famously spotless Road to Anthracite passenger Phoebe Snow, the Flo from Progressive of her time.

The Inquirer story, however, is definitively the cocktail’s first recorded mention, followed by the 1916 publication of Recipes for Mixed Drinks by Hugo Ensslin, German-born head bartender at New York’s Wallick Hotel and creator of the Aviation cocktail. Ensslin’s Alexander called for gin, not brandy, though post-Prohibition, both versions are recognized in the 1937 cocktail guides New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘em and Café Royal Cocktail Book. By the 1960s, brandy emerged as the cocktail’s de facto spirit, and the Brandy Alexander began its long-term relationship with Midwestern supper club culture, where bartenders often substitute vanilla ice cream for heavy cream.

“This is a Wisconsin thing, using ice cream in drinks, basically boozy milkshakes,” says chef and restaurateur Marcie Turney, who grew up in the small Badger State town of Ripon. When she and her wife and partner, Valerie Safran, were doing research-and-development for Bud & Marilyn’s, their Philly take on a Midwestern supper club, they drank many Brandy Alexanders, including the elaborately garnished version piled into a sundae glass at Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge in Milwaukee. One did not make it onto the menu at Bud & Marilyn’s, “but if it’s coming back, we may have to add!”

Paul MacDonald, whom you’ll find behind the handsome marble bar at Friday Saturday Sunday, sees comeback potential. “We’re definitely getting more calls for dessert drinks in general, and I probably get an order for Brandy Alexander once every two weeks. Which is on par with how often people ordered espresso martinis three years ago.”

MacDonald prefers to use Cognac’s “pointier” relative, Armagnac, in his Brandy Alexander. “It sticks out a little more. The drink is already a whole lot of cream and sugar, so it can use that little bit of angle.” To that he adds crème de cacao from Tempus Fugit, which produces a complex expression of the chocolate liqueur, heavy cream, and a pinch of salt to bring the sweetness into balance. He shakes, strains, and over the foamy ivory surface grates a flurry of nutmeg, which introduces the yuletide fragrance connecting Brandy Alexanders to eggnog and other wintertime drinks.

If you see someone ordering a Brandy Alexander at MacDonald’s bar, there’s a good chance it’s Gene Gualtieri. An applied scientist and software developer, he started serving the drink at his home cocktail parties in Fitler Square. “I love the social aspect of the Brandy Alexander,” he says. “Handing it to friends and watching their eyes light up at this frothy, foamy, a little excessive and decadent [drink]. It looks gorgeous and tastes delicious.”

At Friday Saturday Sunday, “I would usually only have it at the end of a meal,” Gualtieri says. “It’s liquid dessert.” One night, MacDonald created a stirred, dairy-free version, the Post Facto, with velvety Oloroso sherry standing in for the cream. Gualtieri has been hooked since. “Now, I can have a couple of ‘Brandy Alexanders’ earlier in the evening.” Grover Cleveland Alexander would probably approve.

Drew Jenkins’ Brandy Alexander, The Racquet Club of Philadelphia

1½ ounces Cognac

1 ounce crème de cacao

1 ounce heavy cream

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Add ice and vigorously shake for 30 seconds. Strain into a coupe. Garnish with grated nutmeg and serve.

Hugo Ensslin’s Gin Alexander

1 ounce London Dry gin

1 ounce crème de cacao

1 ounce heavy cream

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Add ice and vigorously shake for 30 seconds. Strain into a coupe and serve.

Paul MacDonald’s Armagnac Alexander, Friday Saturday Sunday

1 ounce Armagnac

1 ounce Tempus Fugit crème de cacao

1 ounce heavy cream

Pinch salt

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Add ice and vigorously shake for 30 seconds. Strain into a coupe. Garnish with grated nutmeg and serve.

Paul MacDonald’s Post Facto, Friday Saturday Sunday

1¼ ounce Armagnac

1¼ ounce Oloroso sherry

½ ounce Tempus Fugit crème de cacao

Pinch salt

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass. Add ice and stir for 30 seconds or until well-chilled. Strain into a coupe and serve.