The Brown Derby Cocktail is believed to have been created in Billy Wilkerson’s Vendome Club in Hollywood, California during the early 1930s. Its name was then coined in honour of the Brown Derby restaurant, who’s original location was built in the shape of a Derby hat nearby. Others suggest that it was more generally named after the chain of Brown Derby restaurants located in Los Angeles, having been served as their signature cocktail for many years.
Brown Derby Restaurant, LA
The cocktail first appeared in the book, ‘Hollywood Cocktails’, published in 1933. However, it also featured in Harry Craddock’s earlier book ‘The Savoy Cocktail Book’ under the name of The De Rigueur Cocktail, despite having almost identical ingredients. Nevertheless, today the drink is more commonly referred to as the ‘Brown Derby’.
The cocktail is made using a combination of bourbon, grapefruit juice and honey syrup and then shaken with ice. Due to its simple ingredients, it can be easily created at home and is the perfect, light refreshment for a warm summer’s day. The use of honey, instead of a simple sugar syrup adds mellow undertones, creating a more complex flavour to the drink by perfectly drawing together the slight tartness from the grapefruit juice and spice from the bourbon.
Some variations add herbaceous elements to the drink such as rosemary or sage which can create more interesting, unique flavours. In addition, some recipes use maple syrup instead of honey and can add a touch of lemon juice to brighten the cocktail. Furthermore, for a refreshing brunch cocktail, it can be diluted using soda water to create a highball drink.
Our version of the Brown Derby Cocktail is even simpler than the traditional recipe by using just two ingredients! We like to combine freshly squeezed grapefruit juice with our Beeble Honey Whisky and then shake it with ice to create a delicious, citrusy and subtly sweet drink. For a more sophisticated tipple, garnish with a grapefruit twill!
Brown Derby Recipe
Prep time: 4 mins
Total time: 4 mins
Serving size: 1
· 50ml Beeble Honey Whisky
· 75ml Fresh Grapefruit Juice
· Grapefruit Twill
1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice
2. Add the Beeble whisky and fresh grapefruit juice
3. Shake well
4. Strain into an ice-filled glass
5. Garnish with a grapefruit twill
Written by Hester