Derby Cocktail

Benedictine is one of those products which often is gathering dust at most bars across the country. Typically they will even have just a bottle of “B&B” instead of Benedictine, which only shows that they don’t really know how to use this product. So I am always on the lookout for great cocktails which can illustrate the value that Benedictine can bring to a drink. There are a few different cocktails going by the name of “Derby”, but the version I show here is one which I think is an excellent drink to introduce people to the potential that Benedictine provides.


2 oz bourbon

1/4 oz Benedictine

dash Angostura Aromatic Bitters


Stir with ice.

Strain into a cocktail glass.

Garnish with lemon twist.


blair frodelius 28 Apr 2009
5:48 am

I really enjoy benedictine with Rye and Bourbon.  It works well as a replacement for rich simple syrup in drinks like a Mint Julep for instance. 

Here in New York State, we are lucky to have Benedictine readily available.  One thing we can’t find is Amer Picon, but that’s anther story altogether.


Garretto 28 Apr 2009
11:09 am

My guess is that in your travels you’re able to acquire a bottle of Benedictine here and there when needed. I say this because I really love the stuff and if here in AZ it wasn’t available due to the whim of some bureaucrat I’d be enraged! All those great bars in the Seattle area, do they have to go buy it in Portland?
It’s a great ingredient! I love the Vieux Carre and La Louisiane you introduced me to via The Cocktail Spirit. Also, the Bulls Manahattan by Dale Degroff is a fantastic use of Benedictine.
I shall try the Derby, like it, and savor each bottle of Benedictine.

Robert Hess 28 Apr 2009
11:14 am

Bars here in WA can still “Special Order” Benedictine, although they either have to order an entire case, or wait until there are enough “Special Orders” from other bars stacked up so their store can order a case. There are some bizzaro laws up here.

I fortunately picked up a couple bottles when I heard they were “delisting” it, and I also know how to use my web-browser, so it won’t be difficult to restock when I run out :->

Garretto 28 Apr 2009
12:08 pm

I am familiar with this “web-browser” you speak of. This is where AZ laws get “bizarro.”
My family tried to ship some wine to us from a winery out of state and they had to ship it to a liquor store for us to pick up, they couldn’t ship it directly to our door.
For this reason I have never considered (or had the need to due to the availability of most booze) ordering liquor on line. This law may have changed for all I know.
It is bizarro that in WA you can have booze delivered to your door via mail, but can’t pick up a bottle of gin at the grocery store. 
Glad to hear you have a convenient method of acquiring your Benedictine.
You certainly have better bars in your neck of the woods regardless of the State’s grip.

SiMcGoram 28 Apr 2009
12:51 pm

Thanks Robert!

I enjoyed this one, but in fairness I am already a big fan of ‘monastery’ liqueurs. I also love the Derby variation found in Ted Haigh’s fantastic book ‘Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails’ which he in turn sourced from Trader Vic’s ‘Bartender’s Guide’ (1947 version).

This one employs (I’ve adpated it slightly):
1 oz Bourbon
1/2 oz sweet vermouth
1/2 oz orange curacao
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
and 1 mint leaf thrown in the shaker.

Shake & Strain into a chilled coupette garnish with a ‘slapped’ mint leaf. Delicious!

Turroflair 1 May 2009
7:14 am

Hello Robert,

I know the same recipe (just 1/2oz of simple syrup more) called a American Sazerac, i drank this cocktail and the original sazerac, with cognac(many time, maybe too many to be in thesame nite), the original has no rivals!!!!
By the way i know a recipe for a derby cocktail:

2 dash Peach bitter
2 spring fresh mint
1 glass (50ml) Dry
Shake and Strain in cocktail glass (Henry Craddock, The Savoy cocktail book)


The Brown Derby cocktail
50ml Bourbon
25ml Fresh Grapefruit juice
10ml Honey Water
Shake n Strain into cocktail Glass(The craft of the cocktail, Dale DeGroff)

i didn’t try ur recipe yet but i will soon, i love MAKER’S MARK

Tony Harion - Mixing Bar - Brazil 4 May 2009
6:47 pm

Great drink!
I also think that fresh rosemary and cardamom (tincture) play very well with Benedictine. Give it a try, I recommend!

IanRafferty 6 May 2010
1:50 am

Holding Bourbon as a favourite, whilst still not having found the perfect cocktail to truly appreciate Benedictine, I am very excited by this drink.  Maybe this will open my eyes to such a historic product.  Celebrating its 500th year, its definately one I would like to be using more frequently.

Ginty 9 Jul 2011
5:57 am

Robert and Co., I feel your pain!  I’m up in Ontario, Canada and whoever runs our government-run liquor stores should be FIRED!  I’ve been harassing them for a year and they JUST stocked Luxardo Maraschino!  Hahaha!

JT Thomas 11 Mar 2013
8:34 pm

Question, Sir: When you’re doing a long spiral twist, like the one in this drink, what do you consider long enough?  Until the channel knife cuts through? (Which would have to be, then, wouldn’t it?) Or what? 3 Inches (looks like what you have here)? 4? Twice around the lemon? 7 inches (Looks impressive as hell to me.)

Just curious.  Early engineer training before my mixological avocation arose will tell.

Robert Hess 11 Mar 2013
9:08 pm

Length of Twist… here, you raise a very good question, as well as a good point. Technically, everything you do to a drink should be specifically designed to improve the drink, or at the very least not damage it in any way. The citrus twist is a garnish which actually provides a certain level of enhancement, specifically through the essential oils which are imparted. Too energetic of a twist, on the wrong drink, can overpower it with too much citrus oils. To meager of a twist, or one which has been precut and stored, can not add enough for what the drink actually needs.

Usually, the twists I use on the show, are done with a channel knife, and I typically try to get enough so that not only are enough oils imparted into the drink, but the spiral is long enough to provide an eye appealing twist.

As you experiment at home, I might recommend trying a few different lengths and see at what point you think the essential oils are getting properly balanced within the drink, and then also try something more robust and see at what point it drives it off of the cliff.


Zakhia 27 Dec 2013
11:16 am

Just got a bottle of benedictine “Hurray” and is it really good tried this libation and it was excellent, this is now my favorite variation on a manhatten.

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