Brown Derby Cocktail Recipe

Brown Derby Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

August 9, 2023


The Brown Derby cocktail is a classic cocktail that originated in the 1930s in Hollywood, California. It was named after the famous Brown Derby restaurant, which was shaped like a derby hat and frequented by many celebrities of the time. The cocktail quickly gained popularity and became a favorite among the Hollywood elite.

  • The Brown Derby was often enjoyed by actors, directors, and producers during the Golden Age of Hollywood
  • The cocktail's popularity spread beyond Hollywood and became a staple in bars and cocktail lounges across the country
  • Today, the Brown Derby is considered a classic cocktail and is enjoyed by people who appreciate its rich history and delicious taste

How Brown Derby Tastes?

The Brown Derby cocktail is a well-balanced mix of sweet, sour, and strong flavors. The bourbon provides a rich, warm base, while the grapefruit juice adds a tangy, citrusy note. The honey syrup brings a touch of sweetness to balance out the sourness of the grapefruit and the strength of the bourbon.

Interesting facts about Brown Derby

  • The Brown Derby is sometimes referred to as a 'Hollywood classic' due to its origins in the famous Hollywood restaurant
  • The cocktail is often served in a chilled coupe glass, which was a popular glassware choice during the 1930s
  • The Brown Derby is sometimes garnished with a grapefruit twist or a cherry, adding an extra touch of elegance to the presentation


Recipe. How to make Brown Derby Drink

  1. Prepare honey syrup by combining equal parts honey and warm water, stirring until fully dissolved. Allow to cool.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the bourbon, grapefruit juice, and honey syrup.
  3. Add ice to the shaker and shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds.
  4. Strain the cocktail into a chilled coupe glass.
  5. Garnish with a grapefruit twist or cherry, if desired.

Pro Tips

  • Use fresh grapefruit juice for a brighter, fresher flavor.
  • Chill your glass before pouring the cocktail to keep it cool longer.
  • Double strain the cocktail to remove any pulp from the grapefruit juice.

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What you could change in Brown Derby

  • Bourbon: Can be substituted with another type of whiskey or rye.
  • Grapefruit juice: Can be substituted with another citrus juice, like orange or lemon.
  • Honey syrup: Can be substituted with simple syrup or agave syrup.

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Frequently Asked Questions on Brown Derby

What type of bourbon is best to use in a Brown Derby cocktail?

The best bourbon for a Brown Derby is generally a higher-quality, aged bourbon. Woodford Reserve, Bulleit, and Maker's Mark are some popular options.

What other cocktails can I make with these ingredients?

Bourbon, grapefruit juice, and honey syrup are also ingredients in cocktails like the Gold Rush, the Bees Knees, and the Old Fashioned.

I can't find honey syrup. Can I use honey instead?

Yes, you can use honey, but it might not dissolve as well as honey syrup, which can affect the cocktail's texture. If you want to use honey, try warming it up first, so it's easier to mix in.

What's a coupe glass, and can I use a different kind of glass?

A coupe glass is a stemmed glass with a broad, shallow bowl. It's used for many traditional cocktails. If you don't have a coupe glass, you can use a martini glass or an Old Fashioned glass instead.

What alternatives to cherries can I use for garnishing?

Besides cherries, you can garnish your Brown Derby with a slice of grapefruit or lemon, or even a sprig of fresh mint.

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Extra information to help you make Brown Derby

Add your ingredients to the shaker first, then ice. Fill it up to ¾ of its capacity to ensure enough space for shaking. Hold the shaker with both hands (one on the top and one on the bottom) and shake vigorously. The shake should come from your shoulders, not your wrists.

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Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

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Insert the spoon into the glass until it touches the bottom. Keep the back of the spoon against the inside wall of the glass, and stir in a smooth, circular motion. The goal is to swirl the ice and ingredients together without churning or splashing.

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Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

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