The Story Behind The Strawberry And Maple Brown Derby

Today I’m sharing a version of the classic cocktail, the Brown Derby, that really captures the time period between winter and spring. The idea for this version came to me during a recent trip to the supermarket, where I was inspired by all the fresh, bright strawberries on display. Together with the bourbon’s spiciness, the fruit serves to really spring-ify the cocktail.

Instead of the honey that the recipe traditionally calls for, I decided to substitute in maple syrup. Not only did this substitution give the cocktail a deeper flavor, one that perfectly supplemented the delightful burn of the bourbon, but it also made me nostagic for those childhood weekends of fruit-filled pancakes doused in syrup. The grapefruit juice, which is the traditional citrus in this cocktail, balances out all the flavors and adds a bit of bitterness. As the seasons change and more fruits come into season you will have multiple ways to make this cocktail. I know I’ll be trying blueberries as soon as they are available!


  • 1.5 ounces of bourbon
  • 1 ounce of grapefruit juice
  • ½ ounce of maple syrup
  • 3 chopped strawberries plus more for garnish


  1. Fill cocktail shaker with bourbon, grapefruit juice, maple syrup, and chopped strawberries.
  2. Shake mixture then double strain into the serving glass.
  3. Garnish with a strawberry.

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Updated: 2020-04-10

The Strawberry And Maple Brown Derby Recipe