It’s easy to find an excuse to drink a Brandy Alexander. It is, after all, delicious. But what do you say? You say it is approaching Napoleon’s birthday? Or his death day? Or you just watched Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and you’ve got Napoleon on the mind? Well, let us offer a twist on the Brandy Alexander, and turn it into a commemoration of one of his greatest tactical victories: the Battle of Austerliz.
So in the early 1800s, when mention of France still induced thoughts of military competency, Napoleon was busy shoving the French Revolution down everybody else’s neck ruff-enclosed throats. Austria and Russia’s sprawling, feudal, multi-ethnic empires were not compatible with Frenchified idees of liberte, egalite et fraternite. Styling themselves the defenders of the Ancien Regieme, Emperors Frances II (Austria) and Alexander I (Russia) joined up with Portugal (headed by…somebody) and joined Britain’s war already in progress with France.
Battle. Of. Austerlitz. By October 1805, Napoleon had already captured more than 60,00 Austrian troops in that year’s campaign, putting him over the legal catch limit and triggering a large fine from the Infantrymen & Artillerymen Gaming Commission. The remaining Austrian forces, led by Emperor Francis II, regrouped and joined Alexander I’s advancing Russian army. Together they met Napoleon on December 2nd, 1805 at a small village called Austerlitz (whose tourism bureau thanked their Roman Catholic saints that something notable was happening in their little shit hamlet).
Napoleon goaded his numerically-superior opponents into attacking his flank, tacticizing (‘tacticizing’ is what you do when you theorize about tactics) that the Allied troops would weaken their center in their zeal to outflank Napoleon. In a fit of haughty confidence befitting a second-rate Hollywood movie, young Tsar Alexander attempted this flanking maneuver against the advice of his one-eyed, hard drinking field commander, Kutuzov. Napoleon meanwhile kept a bulk of his forces back, hidden by topography and mist. Sure enough, the Austro-Russian center was weakened. Napoleon famously exclaimed, “One sharp blow and the war’s over,” and sent his infantry on a totally sweet march uphill out of the mist.
Here’s the takeway: always trust the advice of one-eyed, hard drinking field commanders.
“One sharp blow” turned into hours more of tough fighting, but eventually the Austrian-Russian center broke and the Allied troops were routed. The French suffered 8,500 casualties to the Allied 30,000 (triggering another Gaming Commission fine and the one-year suspension of Napoleon’s Austrian troop hunting license).
Napoleon’s Austerlitz is considered a tactical masterpiece (although some French today are backing away from commemorating it, as if maybe by distancing themselves from tactical brilliance they’ll rediscover it or something). Regardless, you can celebrate a brilliant display of military tactics with the following modified Brandy Alexander. Swap the brandy for the more French-appropriate cognac, add some cinnamon to reference the British hanging out in the background of the conflict (the British controlled Asia’s largest cinnamon-producing estate at the time of the battle), and house some Austrian apple strudel.
Drink: Tsar “Brandy” Alexander
- creme de cacao
- half and half
- apple strudel
- Mix one part cognac, one part brown creme de cacao, and one part half and half in a chilled cocktail shaker.
- Mix and pour into a martini glass.
- Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Serve drink with a warm slice of apple strudel.