1 1/2 oz Rye Whiskey [Cali Distillery]
3/4 oz Grapefruit liqueur [Giffard]
3/4 oz Honey liqueur [Barenjager]
Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with grapefruit twist.
There are lots of ways I come up with cocktails. The ol’ switcheroo, mashups, and even actual food dishes. Today I’d like to talk about another method we’ll call cocktails on steroids. The idea is simple, take a drink that usually has some elements of fruit juice and/or syrups, then replace those with actual liqueurs to make a boozy version of the original. The first time I can remember doing this is when I turned my guilty pleasure, the Bay Breeze, into the Offshore Wind.
This time around, we’re starting with the Brown Derby. This classic was created at the Vendôme on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, named after a nearby restaurant that was actually built in the shape of the namesake hat. It combines bourbon, grapefruit juice, and honey syrup, and is a lovely throwback drink on its own.
However, I decided to beef it up. Instead of bourbon, it’s 100 proof Rye (courtesy of my friends at Cali Distillery). Out went the soft drink elements of grapefruit juice and honey syrup – replaced by grapefruit liqueur and Barenjager honey liqueur, respectively. What was already a formidable drink now really packs some punch.
The nose is full of floral aromas from the grapefruit and honey, but more concentrated than the original. On the sip, more grapefruit and plenty of sweetness, all of which is nicely balanced by the spicy rye. Don’t overlook a strong rye here, even with swapping in a honey liqueur instead of honey syrup, there is still plenty of sweetness in the glass. The rye does a great job of cutting through it all, and the spiciness compliments the zesty citrus notes nicely. The finish is silky smooth, with one last punch from the base spirit.
Next time you’re looking for some inspiration, just think of some shaken drink and see if you can make a stirred version. Even if the flavors aren’t one to one (as was the case here) switching one out can make a difference. The point is, find a drink you like, and try to make another (stronger) version.