The Brown Derby Is A Delicious Cocktail With A Glamorous Hollywood History

As cocktails go, the Brown Derby isn’t a household name. But it has a history as enjoyable as the drink itself—a crisp and surprisingly harmonious blend of whiskey, honey, and grapefruit.

The drink’s origins lie in 1930s Hollywood, during the film town’s “Golden Age,” when the studios were producing some of their greatest classics and movie stars were drinking their way down the Sunset Strip. The man credited for transforming the strip from an unremarkable 1.7-mile stretch between Los Angeles and Beverly Hills into a destination for the rich and glamorous is Billy Wilkerson, founder of the Hollywood Reporter. And the bartenders at one of his well-attended establishments, the Vendôme Club, were the ones who created the Brown Derby.

They named it, curiously enough, for a nearby restaurant, called the Brown Derby. The original, which had a dome that resembled a brown derby hat, opened in 1926, with other Derby locations following, including in Hollywood. That location regularly drew celebrities and other characters to its tables, and became a part of Hollywood lore.