Recipe: The Derby

Derby Day Cocktail | Melbourne Cocktails

Derby Day Cocktail

It’s Spring Racing season in Melbourne and the first day to kick off Melbourne Cup Carnival is Derby Day. Tomorrow nearly 100,000 finely dressed racegoers will head to Flemington Racecourse looking stylish in black and white. What they look like by the time they leave is irrelevant.

Cocktails won’t just be served in the exclusive marquees in the Birdcage, but also in the Members and in the car park parties where good friends gather to enjoy the day together. Whether it’s a party out of a car boot or more sophisticatedly styled and catered, there’d be space for a cocktail or two.

Cocktails & The Races

For as long as horse racing and cocktails have been around, cocktails have been named to commemorate races and race-days. This one first appeared in the 1947 Bar Guide by Trader Vic and was republished by Ted Haigh, a.k.a. Dr. Cocktail, in his book ‘Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails’.

In Dr. Cocktail’s own words: “There has always been a certain simpatico correspondence between the cocktail and horse races… The Derby had several variations.” (Excerpt from ‘Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails’)

Victoria Derby Day Cocktail

This recipe is based on the classic Derby Cocktail.


  • 30ml Canadian whisky
  • 20ml sweet vermouth
  • 20ml triple sec
  • 20ml fresh lime juice
  • 3 mint leaves (save one for garnish)


Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, add ice, seal tightly and shake. Strain into a coupe cocktail glass and garnish with a mint leaf.

Note: The original recipe from the 1947 Bar Guide by Trader Vic used bourbon and orange curacao. I switched the bourbon for Canadian Club because it’s a smoother whisky, and I chose to use triple sec in my recipe instead of the curacao to achieve a little less sweetness.

Recipe The Derby_insta_2


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