The Brown Derby cocktail is a classic bourbon cocktail made with the addition of fresh grapefruit juice and honey syrup. It’s the unknown, but super delicious, brunch cocktail for every bourbon fan.
This cocktail’s origin is about as shifty as some of the gangsters who hung out at the Brown Derby restaurant in old Hollywood.
Dale DeGroff claimed in his classic cocktail tome, The Craft of the Cocktail, that it was invented at Los Angeles’s Vendôme Club on Sunset Boulevard in the early 1930’s. It has also appeared in print as The Brown Derby recipe, in Hollywood Cocktails by George Buzza, Jr., also published in the 1930’s
However, a cocktail with same ingredients popped up in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book. This one had a different name, the De Rigueur cocktail. Who knows exactly when the cocktail was invented, we do know that it tastes great!
What goes into a Brown Derby
The Brown Derby cocktail recipe is made using only three simple ingredients which act as a perfect balance to each other!
- Bourbon: Bourbon is the base spirit of this whiskey cocktail. You can choose any premium brand.
- Fresh Grapefruit juice: The flavor combination of tanginess, sweetness, and bitterness works so well with bourbon and balances out its sweetness. I suggest using only freshly squeezed sweet grapefruit juice for this recipe.
- Honey syrup: As the name indicates, the honey syrup is made from two simple ingredients, honey and water. It adds the sweetness to your cocktail and is so easy to make. You can always use simple syrup as well.
- Grapefruit twist: It is a perfect garnish for this recipe. The oils from the grapefruit skin add so much flavor to this cocktail.
What tools you need to make Brown Derby
With only three ingredients, it’s super very easy to make. You will have to follow these simple steps to enjoy this refreshing cocktail recipe. You can make the honey syrup beforehand by adding equal parts honey to hot water and stir until you have a syrup.
- Step 1: Fill a shaker with ice cubes and pour bourbon, grapefruit juice, and honey syrup into it.
- Step 2: Seal the shaker and start shaking for a few seconds or until the drink is chilled.
- Step 3: Strain the drink into a chilled cocktail glass.
- Step 4: Garnish the drink by dropping a grapefruit twist in it. Bottom’s up!
- 🍸Top Tip(le):
- Irish whiskey: If you don’t want to add bourbon to this recipe, use Irish whiskey instead. It has a fruitier and smoother flavor than bourbon and therefore works well with grapefruit juice.
- Rye whiskey: Rye whiskey is very similar to bourbon. The only difference is that where bourbon uses corn, rye whisky uses rye. Rye whiskey will add spicy and peppery notes to it.
- Sweeteners: You can use maple syrup or simple syrup as well, if you want a change from the honey.
- Juices: You can always try playing around with some fresh lemon juice or lime juice. Even orange juice or orange bitters, can give you a different flavor that you might love.
- Rocks Glass: You can always serve this on ice in a rocks glass to make more of a long drink.
Where to find more bourbon cocktail recipes
Here are a few of my favorites:
- The Manhattan
- Whiskey Sour
- Mint Julep
- Bulleit Bourbon Kentucky Meadow Hot Toddy
- New York Sour
Plus more grapefruit cocktails here
Disclaimer: Some of these posts contain affiliate links and as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. That means that I may receive compensation if you click on these links and buy something, but, don’t worry, it won’t cost you a dime!
Where to find ingredients for Brown Derby cocktails
Here is the recipe!
- 1 1/2 ounces Bourbon
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
- 1/2 ounce honey syrup make this with 1:1 water & honey
- Grapefruit peel
Pin it for later
Love this recipe?
Follow me on Pinterest for loads of great recipes and much more!! Just click the little red pin button at the top of the recipe card!