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!

Recipe: Strawberry and Maple Brown Derby


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

Garnish: Strawberry


  • Fill cocktail shaker with bourbon, grapefruit juice, maple syrup, and chopped strawberries
  • Shake mixture then double strain into the serving glass

Yields: 1 serving