Australia is home to many Big Things, such as the Big Lobster (which looks like it should be near the Giant Saucepan but isn’t), the Big Potato (which looks like a giant turd but isn’t) and of course this hugely popular website (which looks like it should be earning its writer millions of dollars but isn’t). Not to be outdone, America is also home to many Big Things, such as the World’s Largest Talking Cow (which sounds like it should be a snarky talk-show host but isn’t), another Big Potato (which also looks like a giant turd but isn’t) and a giant bowler hat (which, because it’s America and they talk funny over there, is called a derby). All of this proves two things: (1) These once popular but now kitsch roadside attractions were once Big Things in more ways than one, and (2) You cannot build a giant potato without it looking like a massive poo. But I digress.
The aforementioned giant bowler (derby) hat was once home to an LA restaurant called – can you guess? – the Brown Derby. Though there is some debate as to its origins, this week’s cocktail was named after it, and it’s so good we here at 52 Cocktails take our hat off to it….although with some reservations (see below).
This is a nicely balanced drink – tart yet sweet, smooth yet tangy. 52 Cocktails first made it as a bulk batch of the recipe found here so we’d have enough for pre-dinner drinks with friends. We recommend you do the same regardless of if you’ve got friends round or if you’re drinking alone, as it’s so good you’ll want more than one anyway. The following quantities serve four generously or six less-generously.
200ml bourbon (we used Old Virginia)
100ml grapefruit juice (we used freshly squeezed ruby grapefruits)
100ml honey syrup (2:1 ratio)
Should be a coupe glass. If a picture tells 1000 words, we f*cked up here. Oops.
First, make the honey syrup. Combine 65ml honey with 35ml boiling water and stir to dissolve. Let it cool.
Next, squeeze your grapefruits. No, not those grapefruits, pervert, we mean the giant citrus fruit. Strain.
Now combine all ingredients in a giant cocktail shaker, if you have one, or in a clean glass bottle or jar. Shake with ice, strain into a glass and garnish with a strip of grapefruit peel.
OK, remember the “…with some reservations” mentioned above? Here we go.
The first time we made a Brown Derby we used fairly cheap bourbon and very cheap honey, the kind that is probably just sugar syrup flavoured with honey, and the result was delicious.
The second time we (foolishly) decided to use higher quality (read: more expensive) ingredients in a vain attempt to improve on an already great drink, opting for yellowbox honey and Buffalo Trace bourbon.
What a mistake.
The second batch somehow tasted dirty, and not in a good way. The honey’s flavour was cloying and the bourbon was almost lost beneath it, leading us to conclude:
There is little point in using fancy bourbon in a cocktail like this one; all you’ll taste is the regret that you wasted a bourbon that should be drunk on ice.
And please, please, do not use artisan honey harvested by hipsters on a rooftop in this drink. Its flavour will be too strong; it will overpower the cocktail and muddy the whole thing. And besides, you don’t want to encourage the hipsters.
DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY
Use cheap ingredients and it’ll be the next Big Thing.
This version is based on the one that appears on punchdrink.com
PS If you’re wondering why there’s a horse on the cocktail in the photo – that’s because in Melbourne, proud home of 52 Cocktails, derby equates to Derby Day, a horse race that ushers in the Spring Racing Carnival. The SRC is such a Big Thing here that Melburnians get a day off work for the major event, the Melbourne Cup, which is one of the biggest of the Big Things in international horse racing. Yep, that’s the reason. Honest. It is not because we got drunk on the second round of not-as-good-but-we-still-had-to-drink-them Brown Derbies and ended up playing a game of “which plastic object balances best on this glass”. Not at all…