SHANE’S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: Moon’s brandy and Lennon’s Brandy Alexander, with other less interesting milkshakes and frappes.


Full Moon is a book written by Dougal Butler, who served with distinction as legendary rock drummer Keith Moon’s personal assistant and de facto handler. It was published in 1981. Moon’s maniacal dissipation had caught up with him three years earlier, when he died at the age of 32 — but what a life it was.

Moon remains my favorite drummer, if not the all-time best. It’s probably Neil Peart of Rush, now retired from music.

The Who was on hiatus after the release of Quadrophenia in 1973, not to record again until The Who By Numbers in 1975.  During this time Moon the Loon rented a house in Malibu, and Butler was dispatched to watch over him.

This tenure of Moon’s in SoCal (he adored surfing music) coincided with John Lennon’s 18-month separation from Yoko Ono, occurring between 1973 and 1975, which has become known in music lore as the lost weekend.

Lennon went to Los Angeles at various times during this period, inevitably disappearing into rabbit holes with the likes of Moon and Harry Nilsson — professional drinkers who sometimes paused to work briefly as musicians. The partying was hearty, to say the least, but Lennon eventually caught himself and reconciled with his wife.

However, no such luck for Moon, and the lost weekend was a breaking point for Butler, who famously phoned The Who’s manager to say that unless Moon was brought back to England, one of them was going to die — and it wouldn’t be Butler. They were prophetic words, although Moon was staying in London at the time of his death.

I’ve had more than one lost weekend, with perhaps the first coming just after completing college. Of course, it may have included college. I worked meaningless jobs and drank a lot, often in the company of my friend Bob, with the result that our act achieved immortality as The Bob and Rog Show — and it was a spectacle at its peak.

We both devoured Butler’s book about Moon, in the process being introduced to two entirely novel drinking concepts entirely alien to corn-fed Southern Indiana boys. One was the simple mix of brandy and ginger ale, and the second a cocktail known as the Brandy Alexander — not to be confused with the porn star who later used this as a stage name.

And don’t ask me how I know that.

“Brandy and ginger” was the preferred stuff of Moon’s daily sustenance; eventually, he took to consuming two bottles of brandy and two more of champagne each day. This is alcoholism writ large, and the drummer’s actual cause of death was an accidental overdose of a drug being administered to help him get sober.

Brandy Alexanders were Lennon’s preference.


2 oz Cognac or other fine aged brandy
1 oz Dark crème de cacao
1 oz Cream

Garnish: 1 Freshly grated nutmeg


Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

It should suffice to say that The Bob and Rog Show’s budget was not sufficient to justify using (read: wasting) cognac in such a creation. Rather, dirt cheap, grappa-like E & J was just fine.

This column’s namesake has plenty enough money to buy the good stuff, but I digress.

Our true innovation, which we may or may not have have purloined from the book, was combining quadrupled or quintupled Brandy Alexander ingredients in a blender with vanilla ice cream, yielding an alcoholic milkshake with more calories than the 57-year-old “me” even dares to contemplate.

Ah, those were the days. We drained them seemingly by the gallon.

Today’s new words were to have been “milkshake” and “frappe,” or the continuation of a discussion Diana and I were having in late February following our return from Portugal. She’s from Maine, and there’s a difference, as explored in the following post.

Exactly where these long-suppressed memories of Brandy Alexander milkshakes and/or frappes derive, I couldn’t tell you. Age plays tricks with one’s memory. I’ll say this: while the recipe for a Brandy Alexander remains lodged firmly in my cranium, I likely won’t be able to recall the New England milkshake vs. frappe breakdown.

This can only mean it’s time for a beer — and hold the ice cream.

The Difference Between a Milkshake and a Frappe
, by Aimee Tucker (New England Today)

Do you know the difference between a milkshake and a frappe? How about a cabinet? Read on to learn the New England frappe drink definition.

When is a milkshake not a milkshake? In New England, of course, when it’s a frappe (or a cabinet). Confused? Let’s break down the delicious difference between a milkshake, frappe, and cabinet.

According to the American Heritage College Dictionary, a milkshake is a “a beverage that is made of milk, ice cream, and often flavoring and is blended or whipped until foamy.” Unless you live in New England, where a milkshake would never include ice cream. Adding ice cream makes it a “frappe” drink.

Asa teenager, I worked for a popular ice cream stand, Kimball Farm, in my hometown of Westford, Massachusetts, and like most jobs dealing with food and/or “visiting” customers, I spent a decent amount of time explaining things on the menu. Some questions relating to New England ice cream flavors were normal (What’s in Frozen Pudding ice cream? You don’t want to know) but others were uniquely regional – the kinds of things a local might know (What are jimmies?), but had others feeling puzzled.

The number one “from away” question? “What’s a frappe?”

Sometimes it got very “Who’s on first” kinds of confusing. Here’s a typical re-creation:

Customer: “I’d like a chocolate milkshake, please.”
Me: “Do you mean a milkshake or a frappe?”
Customer: “I mean a milkshake – with ice cream.”
Me: “If you want ice cream, you want a frappe. A milkshake just has milk and syrup.”
Customer: “Uhm…I’d like whatever has the ice cream.”

Today I’ve made a classic chocolate frappe with 3 scoops of chocolate ice cream, a generous splash of milk, and thick drizzle of chocolate syrup. I put all of my frappe ingredients into a tall glass fridge jug with an opening that perfectly fits my immersion blender (or “stick” blender), and then pulsed away until I had a thick and rich concoction – namely, a chocolate frappe.

I don’t know why we call the delicious mix of ice cream, milk, syrup, and sometimes malt powder a frappe (pronounced “frap”) here in New England, but when you really think about it, a milkshake shouldn’t be anything other than shaken (NOT stirred) milk and syrup. And a frappe, which sounds funny and looks elegant with those double p’s, must (of course) be the fancier of the two, meaning the one with the ice cream. It makes perfect sense.

Now for those who wonder if a chocolate milkshake in New England is basically just a glass of chocolate milk, the answer is a resounding NO. Chocolate milk is the casual stirring of chocolate syrup into a glass of milk. A chocolate milkshake is the vigorous shaking (or blending) of the two until the consistency is perfectly creamy and a frothy head is formed. I used the same stick blender is a tall glass pitcher to make this drink as well.

Finally, to make matters even more confusing, if you’re from certain parts of Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts, you order a cabinet.

What is a cabinet? Basically it’s the same thing as a frappe (usually coffee-flavored and made with Autocrat Coffee Syrup), but it got its name because that’s where the blender was kept. We like to keep milkshake-loving tourists on their toes here in New England!

So, readers…which name do you prefer? Milkshake, frappe, or cabinet? And which flavor is best?