Derby Cocktail

Derby Cocktail

The Spruce / S&C Design Studios

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 cocktail
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
162 Calories
0g Fat
5g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 162
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 2mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 8mg 39%
Calcium 8mg 1%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 13mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The name "derby cocktail" has been used for a number of cocktails over the years. Most often, it is made with bourbon whiskey—most likely due to an association with the Kentucky Derby—though there is one common variation that features gin. They're all fascinating drinks that are worthy of a taste and, with options so diverse, there's sure to be a derby cocktail for any mood you find yourself in.

The (arguably) most popular derby cocktail has a Manhattan style, though it uses Benedictine instead of sweet vermouth. The liqueur's honey and herb flavor is a delightful switch, transforming the popular whiskey aperitif into more of an after-dinner drink.


  • 2 ounces bourbon whiskey

  • 1/4 ounce Bénédictine Liqueur

  • 1 dash bitters

  • Lemon twist, for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Pour the whiskey, liqueur, and bitters into a cocktail shaker filled with ice.

  3. Shake well.

  4. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

  5. Garnish with a lemon twist. Serve and enjoy.


  • Choose top-shelf liquor for all the derby cocktails to get the best-tasting drinks.
  • With any of these cocktails, you'll find them most enjoyable when served in a chilled glass. If you forget to freeze one beforehand, place a few ice cubes in the glass while you're mixing up the drink. Dump them before straining.

Recipe Variations

  • The other popular whiskey derby cocktail has more of a whiskey sour style. It comes from Trader Vic's 1947 "Bartender's Guide", though even he could not agree on a single recipe because the book includes three different derby cocktails. This version combines 1 ounce of bourbon with 1/2 ounce each of sweet vermouth and orange curaçao, and 3/4 ounce lime juice. It's shaken and strained into a cocktail glass, then garnished with a lime wedge and/or mint.
  • A gin-based derby cocktail is listed in "The Unforgettables" category on the International Bartenders Association (IBA) website, though its origins are not entirely clear. To make it, stir 2 ounces of gin with 2 dashes of peach bitters and 2 sprigs of mint (no muddling, which is unusual for the herb) in a mixing glass with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass. A sprig of mint is used as the garnish.

How Strong Is a Derby Cocktail?

The Benedictine and gin derby cocktails weigh in at a hefty 32 percent ABV (64 proof), placing them among the strongest cocktails you can mix up. That's with an 80-proof whiskey or gin, too. If you're inclined to choose a stronger spirit the drinks could easily top 80 proof. In contrast, the sour derby cocktail's alcohol content should be in the 19 percent ABV (38 proof) range.