Brown Derby Cocktail Recipe from Sylvie Shirazi - 1600x400

Girls Night: The Brown Derby from Sylvie Shirazi

Published On February 21, 2013 | By The Editors | Bourbon, Cocktails, Girls Night

It all started back in December; the bartender handed me a pretty, light pink drink that all the ladies were having that night.  I asked him what it was, and he firmly insisted I try it before he would tell me.  I cautiously took a sip, afraid of the mysterious concoction I had just been handed, while simultaneously determining whether I was willing to trust his recommendation. I felt the tart hit of grapefruit on my tongue as it gently gave way to a smooth honeyed heat that lingered long after.  It was good, very good.  I asked again what it was that I was drinking, and he replied, “a Brown Derby.”

It’s interesting how some drinks become so entrenched in cocktail history.  Bartenders everywhere are mixing, shaking and stirring up living history every night, many from decades passed.  The Brown Derby–a combination of bourbon, grapefruit and honey–is one of those cocktails. History has it that this particular cocktail was invented at the Vendome Club in Hollywood in the early 1930s. It was named after the famous hat-shaped restaurant on Wilshire Boulevard called the Brown Derby, a popular celebrity hangout at the time, and the place to be and to be seen.

Regardless of the cocktail’s origins, it’s a classic worth revisiting.  The bourbon merges nicely with the honeyed grapefruit base, giving the drink depth and structure; it’s a result that’s much greater than the sum of its parts.  The beauty of this drink is in its simplicity. There’s no liqueurs or hard-to-find ingredients, just pure, clean flavors.

I mixed up another Brown Derby the other night, which only makes me wonder why it took me so long…

Sylvie Shirazi is the writer and photographer of the blog Gourmande in the Kitchen.


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sometimes come together to share a post of such boozy decadence that just one person can't take credit for it all.

13 Responses to Girls Night: The Brown Derby from Sylvie Shirazi

  1. Carolyn says:

    This is so my kind of cocktail!

  2. MikeVFMK says:

    Love this Sylvie! The story and the concoction. So pretty!

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  4. I do happen to have a pink grapefruit in my fridge, and after a long hot day celebrating a little launch I might just mix myself one up! After I pick up my son from scouts though… 20 minutes and counting. Although I’m not a big drinker, I like your blog. Will definitely come back for party inspiration.

  5. I wish a bartender would hand me this drink. I love pink grapefruit and this is an elegant cocktail.

  6. Amy says:

    Totally gotta make this one! And soon!

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  8. marla says:

    Lovely cocktail Sylvie ~

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