This is my bourbon brown derby cocktail, a timeless classic among vintage Californian cocktails of the 20th century! (Remember the last century?)
Just looking at the brown derby makes one think of the olden days: the time of Hollywood royalty like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and the old Brown Derby diner in Los Angeles, for which it is named. I don’t know if my mother ever drank this cocktail but I’m sure she would have loved it. It was definitely of her era.
The ingredients in this drink are delightfully balanced. It’s a lovely mix of bourbon, grapefruit juice and honey syrup.
Speaking of honey…
Here’s a story that I simply must tell, even though it’s a little embarrassing to admit.
When Christopher and I were first married, we used to take a lot of videos with my folks’s video camera, which they would let us borrow. This was one of the earliest consumer video cameras. It was about the size of a toaster oven. One time, Christopher was taking a video of me making breakfast. Our daily oatmeal.
Well, as I was adding salt to the oatie oats, my hand slipped and a bunch of salt ended up in the uncooked oats in the water.
He asked me, “Is that how much salt you usually put in the water?”
Now, I was embarrassed and newly married. So instead of saying, “Oopsie! Heavens no! My hand slipped because you’re making me nervous filming me making our breakfast,”
I said, “Yes,”
While thinking to myself, And being newly hitched, I want you to love everything I do, even if that means eating a pound of salt with your bowl of oatmeal.
Why, oh why didn’t I just laugh it off and throw the darn thing down the drain and start all over again? I’m sure it was because I was embarrassed.
Not that Christopher fared much better. Come to find out, he too, being newly married, instead of saying, “I think it’s too much, why don’t you start over?”, just kept filming me, awaiting the dreaded moment when he had to eat that pound of salt. (It wasn’t really a pound. I’m exaggerating. A little.)
So, this is where the honey comes in.
We continued to film ourselves, this time, eating the oatmeal.
Why we did that, I have no clue. How much fun is watching people eat oatmeal?
Honey Cuts the Salt
Anyway, we start eating the oats and you can see us continue to pick up the honey stick from the honey pot and add more and more honey to our bowls of oatmeal. I think one of us even said, “The honey cuts the salt.”
Christopher thinks it was me who said that. I tend to agree with him.
All I remember about that video now is how my eyes darted around as I lifted the honey stick, yet again.
We laugh about it today, but I still cringe sometimes when I think about that episode.
On to the recipe.
The ingredients for the Bourbon Brown Derby Cocktail and the Mixing
There are only 3 ingredients in this recipe. The hardest part about making this brown derby cocktail, is boiling the water for melting the honey to make the honey syrup.
So, we have Knob Creek bourbon, grapefruit juice and the honey.
I fill my cocktail shaker half way with ice.
Next, I measure out 2 1/2 ounces of bourbon.
I pour the delicious liquor into the cocktail shaker.
Time to pour out 2 ounces of grapefruit juice.
Into the shaker it goes.
Now, I heat some water and as I wait for it to boil, I squeeze in 1 ounce of honey in the measuring glass. I top it with 1 ounce of boiling water and stir it until the honey is melted.
Now you can either make the honey syrup a half hour before you make the cocktail or you can just pour it in after the honey dissolves in the hot water, as I did. The mixture only melts the cubes a little, so you don’t have to worry about spoiling the temperature.
I pour my honey syrup into the shaker, cap it and shake 10 times.
I grab 2 coupe glasses and strain the liquid into them. I also cut a strip of grapefruit skin, twist it, and drop it in the brown derby cocktail for garnish.
Doesn’t that look yummy?
It’s a nice golden orange color. And as I stated before, it’s a timeless drink. You feel elegant and classy drinking it out of the coupe.
Oh, and it’s delicious as well.
Here’s the vertical view.
And of course, the aerial view.
I hope you enjoyed this recipe as much as I enjoyed sipping the brown derby cocktail!
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A timeless bourbon cocktail that is perfectly balanced.
- 2 1/2 ounces bourbon
- 2 ounces grapefruit juice
- 2 ounces honey syrup (1 ounce of honey mixed with 1 ounce of boiling water)
Garnish and glassware
- Strip of grapefruit rind, twisted
- Coupe glasses
- Fill cocktail shaker 1/2 way with ice
- Add bourbon, grapefruit juice and honey syrup
- Cap shaker and shake 10 shakes
- Strain into coupe glasses and add the garnish
- Pick up glass