The Brown Derby is a simple yet delicious drink that has been a favorite of cocktail enthusiasts for decades. Made with bourbon, grapefruit juice, and honey syrup, it’s a refreshing and easy-to-make cocktail that’s perfect for any occasion.
According to legend, the cocktail was first created by a bartender at the Vendôme Club in Hollywood, and it quickly became a hit with the local crowd. Soon, it was being served at the Brown Derby restaurant chain, and it even appeared in the Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930s London. Today, the Brown Derby cocktail is still a popular choice at bars and restaurants around the world, and it’s a must-try for anyone who loves whiskey cocktails.
The Brown Derby cocktail has a rich history that is steeped in Hollywood lore. It was reportedly created in the 1930s at the Vendôme Club on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles, which was owned by Hollywood Reporter founder Billy Wilkerson. The cocktail was created by bartender George Buzza Jr. and was named after the hat-shaped diner, The Brown Derby, located nearby.
The cocktail was a hit among the restaurant’s clientele, which included many famous actors and actresses of the time. It was considered a brunch cocktail in that it is “tart enough to wake up the palate, but not tangy enough to jolt. The original recipe called for bourbon, grapefruit juice, and honey syrup, which was shaken with ice and strained into a chilled cocktail glass.
The Brown Derby cocktail was immortalized in the 1933 book, “Hollywood Cocktails” by Harry Craddock, which featured many of the popular cocktails of the time. The Brown Derby was also the house cocktail of the Los Angeles-based Brown Derby, a chain of formal high-end restaurants shaped like derby hats.
Today, the Brown Derby cocktail remains a popular cocktail in California and beyond. Many variations of the original recipe have been created, including substituting bourbon with other types of whiskey or adding additional ingredients such as bitters or citrus juices. The cocktail is often served at Hollywood-themed parties and events, and is a favorite among cocktail enthusiasts and Hollywood history buffs alike.
How to Make It
- 2 oz. bourbon whiskey
- ¾ oz. fresh grapefruit juice
- ½ oz. honey syrup (1:1)
- Ice cubes
- Grapefruit twist for garnish
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
- Add 2 oz. of bourbon whiskey, ¾ oz. of fresh grapefruit juice, and ½ oz. of honey syrup to the shaker.
- Shake the ingredients vigorously for about 10-15 seconds.
- Strain the mixture into a chilled cocktail glass.
- Garnish with a grapefruit twist.
The Brown Derby cocktail is a classic bourbon-based cocktail that has been enjoyed for decades. However, there are many variations of this cocktail that you can try to add a new twist to this classic drink.
If you’re looking for a more complex flavor profile, you can try a spiced variation of the Brown Derby cocktail. This variation typically includes spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, which add warmth and depth to the drink. You can also experiment with adding different types of bitters to the cocktail to enhance the spiciness.
The Brown Derby cocktail is a perfect brunch cocktail, and there are many variations that are specifically designed for this occasion. For example, you can try a Brown Derby Mimosa, which combines the classic cocktail with orange juice and champagne. Another popular brunch variation is the Bourbon Grapefruit Fizz, which adds soda water and simple syrup to the mix for a light and refreshing drink.
If you’re a fan of whiskey cocktails, there are many variations of the Brown Derby cocktail that you can try. For example, you can substitute the bourbon whiskey with rye whiskey to create a spicier version of the cocktail. You can also try adding a splash of vermouth to the mix for a Manhattan-inspired twist.