The Brown Derby is a simple classic cocktail that perfectly highlights its ingredients: your favorite whiskey, fresh grapefruit juice, and honey syrup (made from equal parts honey and warm water, mixed together).
Nobody knows who invented it, but it’s typically attributed to the Brown Derby restaurant in Los Angeles, which opened in 1926. It’s shown up in at least a half-dozen cocktail books since then, with all sorts of ratios and calling for anything from scotch to blended whiskey. We’re partial to the recipe found in Dale Degroff’s The Craft of the Cocktail. We think it’s best with bourbon, but feel free to use any whiskey you like.
We always recommend that you use fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, but in the Brown Derby that advice goes double! The bottled stuff is simply too acrid and artificial-tasting for a drink like this, where grapefruit plays a central role. If you use white grapefruit, you may wish to add just a bit more honey syrup to offset the added bitterness.
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail our coupe glass.
- The Craft of the Cocktail by Dale Degroff