Maple Brown Derby

Maple Brown Derby cocktail

Recipe: Maple Brown Derby (serves two)

  • 3 oz. bourbon
  • 1 1/2 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 oz. maple syrup
  • grapefruit wedges for garnish

Shake ingredients in a shaker with ice. Pour into ice-filled rocks glasses. Garnish each drink with a grapefruit wedge.


We first tried the Brown Derby cocktail at The Craftsman in Santa Monica. It’s essentially a whiskey sour with grapefruit juice in place of lemon juice and (in many recipes) honey syrup instead of simple syrup. The name comes from the Brown Derby restaurant, a local chain founded in LA in the 1920’s whose flagship location was shaped like a derby hat.

The bourbon. We use Maker’s Mark 46. We like it a lot, and it’s fairly affordable.

The grapefruit juice. Half of a red grapefruit is more than enough for the juice and the garnish. We’ve also made this drink with bottled juice, and it’s good that way too.

The maple syrup. Whenever a recipe calls for a sweet syrup, we tend to reach for our maple syrup bottle — it’s always handy and doesn’t require any separate heating or mixing. Plus, we love that maple taste. Going by a recommendation from Dave Arnold’s Liquid Intelligence, we start with 2/3 ounce maple syrup for 1 ounce simple syrup, and fine-tune the amount for each cocktail (we tend to like our drinks less sweet).

The ice. We have a tray that makes big cubes of ice. We like to use that in our cocktails because it melts more slowly than regular ice, and looks snazzier.

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