There are few cocktails that feel more iconic and Oscars-night-worthy than the old-school Hollywood classic, The Brown Derby. The cocktail dates back to the heyday of the Golden Age of Hollywood and the Brown Derby restaurants at the heart of the scene back in those days. It’s also an easy three-ingredient shaker that you can make at home very easily.
The deep Hollywood history of this refreshing cocktail aside, it’s also delicious. The mix balances bourbon, fresh grapefruit juice, and honey syrup that delivers boozy whiskey vibes with a bright explosion of sweet citrus with just the right amount of bitterness and soothing honey. Once you sip this one, it’s super easy to see why this cocktail became so famous and beloved in old Hollywood — and why it remains a stone-cold classic to this day.
Okay, let’s dive in and shake up the perfect Oscar Night cocktail!
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The Brown Derby
- 2 oz. bourbon
- 1.5 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
- 0.5 oz. honey syrup
- Grapefruit peel
I’m using Michter’s Small Batch Bourbon for this one. It has that absolute classic bourbon vibe that shines in an equally classic cocktail like this. You get deep notes of spice, caramel, and dark fruits that balance well with the sharpness and sweetness of the grapefruit and the smoothness of the honey. It all just works.
What You’ll Need:
- Coupe, cocktail, or Nick and Nora glass (prechilled)
- Cocktail shaker
- Cocktail strainer
- Fine mesh strainer
- Paring knife
- Prechill your glass in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight.
- Add the bourbon, honey syrup, and freshly squeezed and sieved grapefruit juice to a cocktail shaker. Add a large handful of ice, affix the lid, and shake vigorously for about 15 seconds or until the cocktail shaker is ice-cold to touch.
- Fetch the glass from the freezer and strain the cocktail into it.
- Express the oils from a grapefruit peel over the cocktail and rub it around the edge of the bowl and stem of the glass.
- Drop the peel in the cocktail and serve.
This pops! The bright citrus and honey really meld well with the deep and classic bourbon. You get a hint of that Kentucky bourbon spice and cherry with a hint of oakiness that’s accented by sharp grapefruit (it almost feels healthy!). It’s almost glazed by the soft honey notes, tying the whole drink together nicely.
The best is that you can shake these put in about 30 seconds if you’ve already squeezed the grapefruit juice. It’s super easy and quick. That makes it the perfect drink to shake up while you watch the awards roll in on Sunday night.