Imagine sitting back and sipping on a deliciously refreshing that embodies the classic flavors of Hollywood’s golden era. With our simple guide, you’ll learn the art of creating the perfect Classic Brown Derby . This timeless blend of bourbon, grapefruit juice, and honey syrup will transport you to a world of old-school glamour and elegance. So grab your shaker and get ready to impress your guests with this iconic drink that never goes out of style. Cheers to the Classic Brown Derby!


To make a Classic Brown Derby , you will need the following ingredients:

Maraschino cherries

Maraschino cherries are a key component of the Brown Derby cocktail. These sweet, preserved cherries add a burst of flavor and a touch of elegance to the drink.

Grapefruit juice

Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice is the star of the show in the Brown Derby cocktail. It provides a refreshing citrusy taste that pairs perfectly with the other ingredients. Be sure to use high-quality grapefruit juice for the best flavor.

Honey syrup

Honey syrup adds a subtle sweetness to the cocktail and helps to balance out the tartness of the grapefruit juice. To make honey syrup, simply combine equal parts honey and hot water, and stir until the honey dissolves.


Bourbon is the base spirit of the Brown Derby cocktail. Its rich and smooth flavors complement the grapefruit juice and honey syrup, creating a well-balanced cocktail. Choose a bourbon that you enjoy drinking on its own for maximum enjoyment.


To make a Classic Brown Derby cocktail, you will need the following equipment:

Cocktail shaker

A cocktail shaker is essential for combining and mixing the ingredients of the Brown Derby cocktail. It allows you to shake the drink vigorously, which helps to blend the flavors together and create a well-mixed cocktail.

Citrus juicer

To extract the fresh grapefruit juice needed for the cocktail, a citrus juicer is a handy tool to have. It makes juicing the grapefruit quick and easy, ensuring that you get the maximum amount of juice from each fruit.


A jigger is a small measuring device that ensures precise measurements of the cocktail ingredients. It is crucial for achieving the perfect balance of flavors in the Brown Derby cocktail.


A strainer is used to remove any ice or other solids from the cocktail when pouring it into the glass. This helps to create a smooth, well-strained cocktail without any unwanted texture or debris.

How to Make a Classic Brown Derby

Preparing the Glass

Before you can mix up your Classic Brown Derby cocktail, you’ll need to prepare the glass. Here’s how:

Chill a cocktail glass

To ensure that your Brown Derby cocktail stays refreshing and cold, it’s best to start with a chilled glass. Place your cocktail glass in the freezer or fill it with ice and water, allowing it to chill while you gather the other ingredients.

Add a maraschino cherry to the bottom

To add a touch of elegance and a burst of flavor, drop a maraschino cherry into the bottom of the cocktail glass. This little detail sets the stage for the delightful experience that awaits when you take your first sip.

Making the Cocktail

Now that you have all your ingredients ready, it’s time to mix up the Classic Brown Derby cocktail. Follow these steps:

Measure 2 oz grapefruit juice into the shaker

Using your jigger, carefully measure out 2 ounces of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice. Pour it into the cocktail shaker, making sure to pour every last drop to capture the full flavor.

Add ¾ oz honey syrup to the shaker

Next, measure out ¾ ounce of honey syrup and add it to the cocktail shaker. The honey syrup provides a subtle sweetness that balances the tartness of the grapefruit juice, providing a harmonious flavor profile.

Add 2 oz bourbon to the shaker

Now it’s time to add the star of the show – 2 ounces of bourbon. Choose a bourbon that you enjoy sipping on its own, as the quality of the bourbon greatly affects the flavor of the final cocktail.

Shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds

Securely place the lid on the cocktail shaker, ensuring it’s tightly sealed. Hold the shaker with both hands and shake it vigorously for about 10 to 15 seconds. This will thoroughly mix the ingredients, creating a perfectly blended cocktail.

Strain the cocktail into the prepared glass

Place a strainer on top of the shaker and carefully pour the cocktail into the chilled glass, ensuring that any ice or solids are left behind in the shaker. The strainer helps to create a silky smooth texture, allowing you to fully enjoy the flavors of the cocktail.

How to Make a Classic Brown Derby


For that finishing touch of visual appeal and added flavor, consider garnishing your Classic Brown Derby cocktail with the following:

Add a grapefruit twist for garnish

Take a fresh grapefruit peel and twist it gently, expressing the oils. This will add a fragrant citrus aroma to the cocktail, enhancing the overall experience.

Optional: add a cocktail cherry on top

To enhance the visual aesthetics and add a pop of color, you can also place an additional maraschino cherry on top of the cocktail. This little touch of garnish adds a delightful finishing touch.

Serving Suggestions

The Classic Brown Derby cocktail is a versatile drink that can be enjoyed in various settings. Here are a few serving suggestions:

Serve the Brown Derby cocktail immediately

The Brown Derby cocktail is best enjoyed fresh and immediately after preparation. The flavors are at their peak, and the cocktail is at its most refreshing when served right away.

Enjoy it as an aperitif or with a meal

The Classic Brown Derby cocktail can be enjoyed as an aperitif before a meal. Its crisp and refreshing character helps to stimulate the appetite and set the tone for a delightful dining experience. Alternatively, it can also be paired with a meal, particularly dishes that complement its flavors, such as grilled seafood or citrus-infused salads.

How to Make a Classic Brown Derby


To put your own twist on the Classic Brown Derby cocktail, consider these variations:

Try substituting bourbon with rye whiskey for a different flavor

If you’re looking to experiment with different flavors, try using rye whiskey instead of bourbon. Rye whiskey has a spicier and more robust flavor profile, which can add an exciting twist to the cocktail.

Experiment with different ratios of grapefruit juice to honey syrup for desired sweetness

If you prefer a sweeter or less sweet cocktail, feel free to adjust the ratio of grapefruit juice to honey syrup. Adding more grapefruit juice will make the cocktail a bit more tart, while increasing the honey syrup will make it sweeter. Play around with the ratios until you find your perfect balance.


Here are a few tips to consider when making your Classic Brown Derby cocktail:

Use freshly squeezed grapefruit juice for the best taste

Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice is always the best choice for cocktails, as it provides superior flavor and freshness. Avoid using bottled or pre-packaged grapefruit juice, as it may contain additives and preservatives that can affect the taste of the cocktail.

Adjust the honey syrup amount according to personal preference

Honey syrup adds sweetness to the cocktail, but the level of sweetness desired can vary from person to person. Feel free to adjust the amount of honey syrup according to your personal taste preferences. If you prefer a sweeter cocktail, add a bit more honey syrup. If you prefer a more balanced or tart cocktail, use less honey syrup.


The Brown Derby cocktail has a fascinating history that dates back to the 1930s. It was created at the iconic Vendome Club in Los Angeles, which was known for its innovative and creative cocktails. The cocktail was named after the Brown Derby hat-shaped restaurants that dotted the California landscape during that era. These restaurants were popular meeting places for Hollywood stars and other influential figures, and the Brown Derby cocktail quickly became synonymous with the glamour and allure of the golden age of Hollywood.


The Classic Brown Derby cocktail is a delicious and refreshing drink with a rich history. With its blend of grapefruit juice, honey syrup, and bourbon, it offers a perfect balance between sweet, tart, and robust flavors. Whether you’re sipping it as an aperitif or enjoying it with a meal, the Classic Brown Derby is sure to impress your taste buds and transport you to the glamorous days of old Hollywood. So gather your ingredients, mix up a cocktail, and raise a glass to timeless elegance and classic cocktails. Cheers!