Brown Derby Cocktail

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The brown derby cocktail is an old Hollywood cocktail made with bourbon and grapefruit juice with a splash of honey syrup. If you’re looking for an interesting new bourbon cocktail to shake up your next party? Look no further than the brown derby!

Whether you’re looking for an elegant drink to serve at your next dinner party or just want to enjoy something delicious and refreshing, this recipe is sure to please. Give it a try!

brown derby cocktail in a coupe glass

Brown Derby Cocktail’s Origin

The original cocktail recipe hit the scene in 1930 at the Vendôme Club on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.

According to Brown Derby Cocktail history the name Brown Derby name stuck because the Vendôme Club was located near a hat-shaped diner on the Sunset strip.

This refreshing cocktail recipe is a perfect alternative if you’re a bourbon fan looking for a bourbon cocktail other than the classic Old Fashioned.

You can also find this popular cocktail recipe listed under the name “De Rigueur” in popular cocktail books like the ultimate authority on classic cocktails, Savoy Cocktail Book.

Don’t forget to pin this recipe to save it for later!

What Does The Brown Derby Cocktail Taste Like?

When I had this cocktail for the first time, my tastebuds said Bam! This cocktail tastes like sultry bourbon wrapped in a honey-flavored hug and slapped with a bright burst of grapefruit.

Its flavor is simple yet truly spectacular.  

What You’ll Need

To make a proper cocktail, you’ll need a few things.

  • A jigger to measure the alcohol.
  • A cocktail shaker or a cocktail mixing glass.
  • Coupe glass or martini glass. Make sure you have a well-chilled cocktail glass.
classic coupe glass used for champagne cocktails and daiquiri-style cocktails

What Goes Into A Classic Brown Derby Cocktail

This bourbon and grapefruit cocktail is ultra-refreshing. The brown derby cocktail recipe is the perfect brunch cocktail with a perfect balance of sweet and citrusy tang.

  • Bourbon whiskey.
  • Fresh grapefruit juice. You’ll want to use freshly squeezed sweet grapefruit juice. Texas Red grapefruits are a good choice for this recipe.
  • Honey syrup. Dilute honey with a little bit of warm water and let it cool completely before using. [see directions below]
  • Garnish with a grapefruit twist

How to Make Honey Syrup

Honey Syrup is a simple syrup made with honey. It’s super easy to make. Mix equal parts honey and hot water. Mix until the honey is completely dissolved. You can store honey syrup in the fridge for up to a month in an airtight container, like a mason jar.

When to Serve a Brown Derby Cocktail

The citrusy burst of grapefruit and the subtle honey sweetness makes the brown derby a perfect choice as an aperitif. This classic bourbon cocktail is refreshing enough to be served in the afternoon or for a brunch cocktail.

If you’re looking for a bourbon cocktail that’s on the lighter, more refreshing side of the cocktail spectrum, give this recipe a try.

While you can serve this cocktail any time of the year, winter is ideal when the citrus is at its peak of ripeness.

Thirsty For More Cocktail Recipes?

Try a few more of our favorite cocktail recipes.

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brown derby cocktail recipe

Brown Derby Cocktail

The brown derby is an old Hollywood cocktail made with bourbon and grapefruit juice with a splash of honey syrup. The original cocktail recipe hit the scene in 1930 at the Vendôme Club on Sunset Blvd.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Cocktail
Cuisine American
Servings 1
Calories 289 kcal



  • 3 oz bourbon whiskey
  • 1 ½ oz fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice , [note 1]
  • ¾ oz honey syrup

How to make honey syrup

  • ½ cup honey
  • ½ cup water


  • grapefruit slices, dehydrated grapefruit slices are gorgeous with this cocktail


Make The Honey Syrup

  • Add the honey and water to a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until the honey is dossolved.
  • Allow the syrup to cool and store in an airtight containier. Syrup will keep for about 1 month in the refregerator.

To Make Dehydrated Grapefruit

  • Slice a grapefruit into thin rounds and place into your dehydrator. Dehydrate util they are completely dried out.
  • Store in an airtight container and use to carnish grapefruit baed cocktails.

Make a Brown Derby Cocktail

  • Add the ingredients to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously and then strain into a chilled martini or coupe glass.

Laura’s Tips + Notes

The best cocktail glass for a derby cocktail is a coupe glass. 


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Serving: 1 cocktailCalories: 289kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSodium: 13mgFiber: 1gSugar: 20gCalcium: 6mgIron: 1mg
Keyword bourbon, grapefruit, honey syrup
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