Derby Cocktail Tropicál
This gem was unearthed by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, in his book Potions of the Carribean. It’s attributed to Max Bilgray’s Tropic Bar in the Ithsmian Canal Zone, a U.S. territory in Panama where the canal was built. Dwight Eisenhower, a junior officer stationed in the Canal Zone in 1922, often cashed his paychecks at the Tropic Bar, and we like to think that perhaps he might have sipped on a Derby Cocktail Tropicál one hot summer afternoon.
The Derby Cocktail Tropicál is basically a julep with some fruit juice added in. It’s unusual for being a recipe that originated in the tropics that doesn’t use rum; when the recipe was printed in the South American Gentleman’s Companion in 1950, bourbon distilleries in the US were up and running again after prohibition.
The original recipe called for granulated sugar, which needs to be stirred with the lemon juice to create a slurry before other ingredients are added, to ensure that it evenly mixes into the drink. We prefer simple syrup for its superior incorporability, so we’ve listed it as the preferred ingredient here. If you do use granulated sugar, use half the amount listed.
If using granulated sugar, add it and the lemon juice to a shaker and stir to fully mix. Add remaining ingredients (or all ingredients, if using simple syrup) and shake with ice. Strain into a short glass filled with crushed ice and garnish with a profusion of freshly-slapped mint sprigs.
- Potions of the Caribbean by Jeff “Beachbum” Berry