Brown Derby Cocktail Drink

Brown Derby

If you’re after a classic, look no further than the Brown Derby Cocktail recipe! This tasty drink is packed with delicious ingredients and is a breeze to whip up – it’s every cocktail enthusiast’s fantasy.

Brown Derby Cocktail Recipe

Fall calls for this easy Brown Derby cocktail recipe! The mix of bourbon, fresh grapefruit juice, and maple syrup make it a great match for chilly autumn evenings.

Prep time:

1 minute

Mixing time:

1 minute

Servings:

1

Calories:

149 kl

Ingredients

  • oz Bourbon
  • 1 oz fresh grapefruit juice
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • Grapefruit twist, for garnish, optional

Equipment

  • Cocktail Shaker
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Cocktail Strainer
  • Fine strainer
  • Coupe Glass

Instructions

  • Fill a cocktail glass with ice and set it aside.
  • In the shaker, pour in 2 tsp maple syrup.
  • Add 1 oz fresh grapefruit juice.
  • Finally, add 1½ oz Bourbon to the mix.
  • Fill the shaker with ice, cap it, and give it a good shake (10-15 seconds).
  • Discard the ice inside the cocktail glass. Using both the cocktail strainer and the fine strainer, strain the mixture into the chilled glass.
  • Express the grapefruit zest on top of the glass. You can either discard it after or place it on the rim of the glass for an added citrus touch.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Bourbon: If you don't have bourbon, rye whiskey can be a good substitute. It has a spicier profile than bourbon, but it still works well in this cocktail.
  • Fresh Grapefruit Juice: You can use bottled grapefruit juice if you run out of fresh grapefruits. However, I recommend using fresh juice whenever possible for the best flavor.
  • Maple Syrup: If you're not a fan of maple or don't have it available, you can use honey syrup (2:1 - two parts honey to one part water) as a substitute.

Making a Pitcher of Brown Derby:

  • Scale: To make a pitcher that serves 8, multiply all the ingredients by 8. That would be 12 oz of bourbon, 8 oz of fresh grapefruit juice, and 3 ounces of maple syrup.
  • Mix: Combine the bourbon, grapefruit juice, and honey syrup in a large pitcher. Add ice and stir well.
  • Serve: Strain to remove the ice, serve immediately into chilled cocktail glasses, and garnish with grapefruit zests. Serve immediately.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Bourbon Substitute: Use a non-alcoholic bourbon substitute. Several brands are available that mimic the flavor of bourbon without the alcohol. If you’re feeling crafty, you can also make your own bourbon substitute by infusing together rooibos tea and a bunch of spices of your liking (vanilla and cinnamon are always a good way to start). Mix all the ingredients together, add hot water, cover, and let it infuse for at least 3h (the stronger the better, so if you have time let it infuse overnight. In that case, you can either let it rest in the fridge once the liquid has cooled down). Give it a taste, adjust the spice level if necessary, and strain it once you’re happy with the result. Stored properly (in an airtight container in the fridge), this “tea whiskey” can be kept for up to a week.
  • Proceed As Usual: Use these non-alcoholic substitutes instead of the regular ingredients, follow the original steps, and enjoy a non-alcoholic version.

Making it Vegan:

The Brown Derby cocktail is naturally vegan as it doesn't contain any animal products. Most spirits, including bourbon, are vegan-friendly. However, some brands may use animal products in their production process, especially if a filtration process is involved (it is sometimes done over bone char). Always check the brand's labels and website to ensure their products are vegan.

Nutrition Facts

Calories
149
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
0.03
g
0
%
Sodium
 
2
mg
0
%
Carbohydrates
 
13
g
4
%
Fiber
 
0.03
g
0
%
Sugar
 
12
g
13
%
Potassium
 
78
mg
2
%
Protein
 
0.2
g
0
%
Vitamin A
 
2
IU
0
%
Vitamin C
 
8
mg
10
%
Calcium
 
18
mg
2
%
Iron
 
0.1
mg
1
%

 

Brown Derby Cocktail Drink

Brown Derby Cocktail Recipe

Gavin Wrigley Written by Gavin Wrigley
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Fall calls for this easy Brown Derby cocktail recipe! The mix of bourbon, fresh grapefruit juice, and maple syrup make it a great match for chilly autumn evenings.
Prep time: 1 minute
Mixing time: 1 minute
Servings: 1
Calories: 149

Ingredients
 

  • oz Bourbon
  • 1 oz fresh grapefruit juice
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • Grapefruit twist - for garnish, optional

Equipment

  • Cocktail Shaker
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Cocktail Strainer
  • Fine strainer
  • Coupe Glass

Instructions

  • Fill a cocktail glass with ice and set it aside.
  • In the shaker, pour in 2 tsp maple syrup.
  • Add 1 oz fresh grapefruit juice.
  • Finally, add 1½ oz Bourbon to the mix.
  • Fill the shaker with ice, cap it, and give it a good shake (10-15 seconds).
  • Discard the ice inside the cocktail glass. Using both the cocktail strainer and the fine strainer, strain the mixture into the chilled glass.
  • Express the grapefruit zest on top of the glass. You can either discard it after or place it on the rim of the glass for an added citrus touch.

Notes

Substitutes:

  • Bourbon: If you don't have bourbon, rye whiskey can be a good substitute. It has a spicier profile than bourbon, but it still works well in this cocktail.
  • Fresh Grapefruit Juice: You can use bottled grapefruit juice if you run out of fresh grapefruits. However, I recommend using fresh juice whenever possible for the best flavor.
  • Maple Syrup: If you're not a fan of maple or don't have it available, you can use honey syrup (2:1 - two parts honey to one part water) as a substitute.

Making a Pitcher of Brown Derby:

  • Scale: To make a pitcher that serves 8, multiply all the ingredients by 8. That would be 12 oz of bourbon, 8 oz of fresh grapefruit juice, and 3 ounces of maple syrup.
  • Mix: Combine the bourbon, grapefruit juice, and honey syrup in a large pitcher. Add ice and stir well.
  • Serve: Strain to remove the ice, serve immediately into chilled cocktail glasses, and garnish with grapefruit zests. Serve immediately.

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Bourbon Substitute: Use a non-alcoholic bourbon substitute. Several brands are available that mimic the flavor of bourbon without the alcohol. If you’re feeling crafty, you can also make your own bourbon substitute by infusing together rooibos tea and a bunch of spices of your liking (vanilla and cinnamon are always a good way to start). Mix all the ingredients together, add hot water, cover, and let it infuse for at least 3h (the stronger the better, so if you have time let it infuse overnight. In that case, you can either let it rest in the fridge once the liquid has cooled down). Give it a taste, adjust the spice level if necessary, and strain it once you’re happy with the result. Stored properly (in an airtight container in the fridge), this “tea whiskey” can be kept for up to a week.
  • Proceed As Usual: Use these non-alcoholic substitutes instead of the regular ingredients, follow the original steps, and enjoy a non-alcoholic version.

Making it Vegan:

The Brown Derby cocktail is naturally vegan as it doesn't contain any animal products. Most spirits, including bourbon, are vegan-friendly. However, some brands may use animal products in their production process, especially if a filtration process is involved (it is sometimes done over bone char). Always check the brand's labels and website to ensure their products are vegan.

What is a Brown Derby Cocktail?

A Brown Derby Cocktail is a bourbon-based classic cocktail of maple syrup, fresh grapefruit juice, and bourbon whiskey. It’s not difficult to make as it only requires mixing these three ingredients in the correct proportions.

A side shot of a Brown Derby cocktail in a cocktail glass on a wooden board on a wooden table surrounded by a green cloth, a strainer, two orange wedges, and a shaker.

What is a Brown Derby Cocktail made of – The ingredients

You will need these ingredients to mix a Brown Derby Cocktail:

  • Bourbon Whiskey: This is the base spirit of the Brown Derby cocktail. It provides a rich, full-bodied flavor with notes of vanilla and caramel.
  • Fresh Grapefruit Juice: Adds a tangy citrus note to balance out the sweetness of the bourbon and honey. It also gives the cocktail a refreshing quality.
  • Maple Syrup: Sweetens the cocktail and complements the bourbon’s natural flavors. It also adds a smooth texture to the drink.
  • Grapefruit Twist (for garnish): Enhances presentation and adds a subtle hint of citrus aroma to stimulate the senses before each sip.

Bourbon, grapefruit juice, maple syrup, and grapefruit laid out on a white bar table

How do you make a Brown Derby Cocktail?

Follow along with our guide to easily create your own Brown Derby Cocktail:

1
<p>Start by chilling your cocktail glass. This can be done by filling it with ice and letting it sit while you prepare the cocktail.</p>

Start by chilling your cocktail glass. This can be done by filling it with ice and letting it sit while you prepare the cocktail.

2
<p>Then, pour 2 tsp of Maple Syrup into the shaker.</p>

Then, pour 2 tsp of Maple Syrup into the shaker.

3
<p>Squeeze half a grapefruit to get about 1 ounce of fresh juice and pour it into the shaker as well.</p>

Squeeze half a grapefruit to get about 1 ounce of fresh juice and pour it into the shaker as well.

4
<p>Finally, pour 2 ounces of bourbon into the shaker.</p>

Finally, pour 2 ounces of bourbon into the shaker.

5
<p>Fill the shaker with ice cubes.</p>

Fill the shaker with ice cubes.

6
<p>Cap the shaker and give it a good shake (10-15 seconds).</p>

Cap the shaker and give it a good shake (10-15 seconds).

7
<p>Using both the cocktail strainer and the fine strainer, strain the mixture into the chilled cocktail glass (this is called a “double strain” and will ensure no shards of ice or citrus pulp goes into your drink, leaving only a smooth and clean cocktail).</p>

Using both the cocktail strainer and the fine strainer, strain the mixture into the chilled cocktail glass (this is called a “double strain” and will ensure no shards of ice or citrus pulp goes into your drink, leaving only a smooth and clean cocktail).

8
<p>Finally, garnish the cocktail with a grapefruit twist. To do this, cut a thin slice of grapefruit peel and twist it over the glass to release its oils. You can either discard it after, place it on the rim of the glass or simply drop it into the drink for an added citrus touch and a pop of color.</p>

Finally, garnish the cocktail with a grapefruit twist. To do this, cut a thin slice of grapefruit peel and twist it over the glass to release its oils. You can either discard it after, place it on the rim of the glass or simply drop it into the drink for an added citrus touch and a pop of color.

History and Origin of the Brown Derby Cocktail

The Brown Derby Cocktail, a tasty mix of bourbon, grapefruit juice, and maple syrup, has a fascinating story. This cocktail comes from the bright lights of Hollywood in the 1930s.

You might recognize the name “Brown Derby”. It was a group of restaurants in Los Angeles, California. These places were famous for their food and unique buildings. One even looked like a brown derby hat!

Movie stars and big names in the film industry often hung out at these restaurants, which were very close to the movie studios; that’s where the Brown Derby Cocktail first showed up. Interestingly, the Brown Derby restaurants didn’t say they actually invented the cocktail. They said it actually came from the Vendome Club, another popular place in Hollywood then located only a few blocks away.

A Brown Derby cocktail, shot from above, in a cocktail glass on a beige table surrounded by Bourbon, grapefruit juice, maple syrup, two grapefruit wedges and half grapefruit.

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FAQ

How many calories does a Brown Derby cocktail contain?
A standard serving of a Brown Derby cocktail contains approximately 160 calories. However, this can vary slightly depending on the specific brands of ingredients used.
How strong is a Brown Derby cocktail?
The strength of a Brown Derby cocktail typically falls around 17% ABV (Alcohol by Volume), which translates to 34 proof. This makes it a moderately strong cocktail but not as potent as others.
What type of alcohol is used in a Brown Derby cocktail?
The primary alcohol used in a Brown Derby cocktail is bourbon whiskey. The choice of bourbon can significantly influence the overall flavor profile of the drink.
In what kind of glass is a Brown Derby cocktail served?
Traditionally, a Brown Derby cocktail is served in a coupe glass.
What does a Brown Derby cocktail taste like?
A Brown Derby cocktail offers a balanced blend of sweet and sour flavors. The sweetness comes from the maple syrup, while the grapefruit juice provides a tangy counterpoint. The bourbon adds depth and complexity with its characteristic smoky and oaky notes.
What is the ratio of ingredients in a Brown Derby cocktail?
The typical ratio for a Brown Derby cocktail is 1 ½ part maple syrup, 2 parts fresh grapefruit juice and 3 parts bourbon. This ratio ensures no ingredient overpowers the others, resulting in a harmonious blend of flavors.
How is a Brown Derby cocktail served with respect to ice?
A Brown Derby cocktail is usually shaken with ice and then strained into the serving glass, with no ice this time. This process chills the drink without diluting it excessively, ensuring it remains flavorful and refreshing.
Who invented the Brown Derby cocktail?
The Brown Derby cocktail was reportedly invented at the Vendome Club in Hollywood in the early 1930s. The drink was named after a famous chain of restaurants in Los Angeles, known for their distinctive hat-shaped buildings.
Is there a specific time or occasion to enjoy a Brown Derby cocktail?
While there are no hard and fast rules about when to enjoy a Brown Derby cocktail, its refreshing nature makes it an excellent choice for late afternoon or early evening. It's also a popular choice for celebratory occasions.

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