The Derby Cocktail

The Derby

There has always been a certain simpatico correspondence between the cocktail and horse racing. The Mint Julep has become a mascot, of sorts, for The Kentucky Derby. But as witnessed with The Derby, drinks were actually named to commemorate races as well as horses. The Derby had several variations. Three were in the 1947 Bartender’s Guide by Trader Vic. This one is my favorite.–Ted Haigh

LC Name That Derby Note

Bourbon. Curaçao. Sweet vermouth. Fresh lime. We’re sort of sad we didn’t dream up this comforting little number, although we’re grateful somebody did. We’re not certain what the other two aforementioned variations on The Derby from Trader Vic are, though we’re fairly certain that this eminently likable version makes them irrelevant. And hey, if you can’t find orange curaçao, simply swap any orange liqueur. (You could also substitute blue curaçao, although rumor has it you’ll end up sipping something that’s a sort of lurid shade of green. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. We just always appreciate a heads up when our cocktail resembles antifreeze.)

Special Equipment: Cocktail shaker

The Derby Cocktail

  • Quick Glance
  • 5 M
  • 5 M
  • Serves 1
Print RecipeBuy the Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails cookbook

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  • 1 ounce bourbon whiskey
  • 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1/2 ounce orange curaçao
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
  • 1 lime wedge, for garnish
  • 1 mint leaf, for garnish


  • 1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice. Add the bourbon, sweet vermouth, orange curaçao, and lime juice and shake, shake, shake.
  • 2. Strain the concoction into a cocktail glass. Add the lime wedge and mint leaf and sip to your heart’s content. Repeat as desired.

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